Japanese court says Takahama NPP to remain closed

22 June 2016

Japan's Otsu District Court on 17 June decided to maintain the ban on operation of units 3 and 4 at the Takahama NPP in Fukui Prefecture. The units were shut down when the court issued an injunction in March ordering closure of the two 830MWe pressurised water reactors after local residents had filed for the injunction on safety concerns. The court said then there are "problematic points" in planned responses for major accidents and "questions" on tsunami countermeasures and evacuation planning, in light of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Kansai Electric had asked to court to temporarily halt the shutdown order arguing that "there is no specific or realistic risk" associated with its operations of the reactors. Kansai said in a statement that its request followed approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority of an engineering work plan for the extensions. The revised application includes additional results of seismic safety evaluations with maximum acceleration increased from 550 centimetres per square second (gal) to 700 gal. New, more stringent safety rules were introduced in 2013 in the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011. In April the reactors had met new NRA safety requirements. However, the court said it "cannot conclude that (the reactors) are safe, merely because they have met new regulatory standards on nuclear power plants". Kansai has separately requested that the court revoke the injunction, and a decision on that is expected in July.

"It is very regrettable that the petition for stay of execution was not approved," Kansai Electric said in a statement, adding that it hoped that the court would cancel the injunction soon. If Kansai Electric loses this legal fight, it will have to appeal to a higher court, which could mean months, or possibly a year, of delays and extra purchases of oil, gas or coal to replace nuclear power generation. A Kansai Electric spokesman said the losses from the shutdown of the two reactors amounted to JPY10bn ($96m) per month.

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