Lawsuit-leery opponents drop restart petition against reactors in Kagoshima

Kyodo

Some of the people seeking a court injunction to halt the restart of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s nuclear plant in the town of Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, have dropped their petitions, their lawyers said.

Around 10 of the 23 people who sought the injunction last May have decided not to proceed after learning that the utility could sue them for massive damages, the lawyers said Saturday.

In addition to the residents’ petition with the Kagoshima District Court, a larger group of plaintiffs filed in 2012 a lawsuit with the same court against Kyushu Electric and the state to prevent the restart of two reactors at the Sendai plant due to safety reasons.

The 23 residents are part of this larger group and reside in Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki prefectures.

If the plaintiffs win the case, it would delay the utility’s efforts to restart the reactors. If they lose, Kyushu Electric could demand compensation from those who petitioned for the injunction to recoup the damages incurred by the stoppage, the lawyers said.

In one of the hearings, Kyushu Electric informed the court in writing that if the restart is delayed, it would mean losses worth ¥550 million per day.

The utility has also urged the court to order the plaintiffs to prepare to put up cash as collateral in the event such compensation is required. The court has not issued such an order but some of the plaintiffs decided to back out anyway, the lawyers said, adding that a ruling on the injunction is expected in February at the earliest.

The units are the first to clear the tougher safety tests introduced by a new regulator following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.