Japanese court rejects petition to close Ikata NPP

3 April 2017

The Hiroshima District Court on 30 March rejected a petition by a group of residents for a temporary injunction against the operation of unit 3 at Shikoku Electric Power Company’s Ikata NPP in Japan's Ehime prefecture. The decision comes days after another court removed an injunction against the operation of units 3 and 4 at Kansai Electric Power Company's Takahama NPP. Ikata 3 was taken offline for a periodic inspection in April 2011. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) approved its restart in April 2016 and the unit was declared back in commercial operation in September.

Four residents from Matsuyama and Hiroshima filed a request for the injunction with the Hiroshima District Court on 11 March 2016, the fifth anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, charging that Shikoku Electric had underestimated the potential size of an earthquake. Shikoku argued that it has taken safety measures at the plant "based on the latest scientific knowledge" of the maximum magnitude quake likely to strike the area. The company said it has also made safety upgrades at the Ikata plant based on lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

The judge ruled that Shikoku had used reliable measures in calculating the basic earthquake ground motion at the site and said NRA had been reasonable in its decision that the unit meets the more stringent post Fukushima safety standards.  Kyodo news agency reported that similar lawsuits and other injunctions seeking to halt operation of Ikata 3 have been filed with other district courts in nearby Matsuyama, Yamaguchi and Oita.

Five of Japan's 42 operable reactors, have already cleared inspections confirming they meet the new regulatory safety standards and have resumed operation. However, only Kyushu Electric's Sendai 1 and Shikoku's Ikata 3 are currently online. Another 19 have applied to restart. 

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