KANSAI Electric Power was banned from reopening two nuclear reactors in western Japan yesterday on safety grounds.
Fukui District Court judge Hideaki Higuchi ordered the firm to keep its No 3 and No 4 reactors offline at Takahama plant in Fukui prefecture, home to some 12 reactors.
The court criticised Nuclear Regulation Authority safety standards for being too lax, even with stricter requirements imposed after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, which saw a major earthquake partly destroy reactors at Daichi.
The court ruling said that meeting the new standards does not guarantee the safety of Takahama’s reactors.
It noted that four of Japan’s 17 nuclear power plant complexes had suffered through earthquakes exceeding their anticipated seismic motions in the past decade and suggested Takahama could be next.
“Excluding the Takahama plant from the risk of such earthquakes is merely groundless optimism,” it ruled. “An accident at the plant could cause irrevocable damage.”
The judge cited spent fuel storage pools without proper containment and a moratorium on a compulsory radiation-free emergency command centre as examples of regulators’ “lack of rationality.”
A group of residents requested the injunction in December, saying that a massive earthquake exceeding the facility’s resistance standards could cause damage similar to the Fukushima crisis.
Kansai Electric said that it plans to appeal against the ruling, calling it “extremely regrettable and unacceptable.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-business government has been pushing for a restart, saying that prolonged stoppages are bad for the economy.