Ikata restart ruling prompts Kepco to raise threat of countersuits

by

Staff Writer

Kansai Electric Power Co., angered by the decision earlier this month by the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture to slap a provisional injunction on restarting two reactors at the Takahama nuclear power plant on safety grounds, is lashing out at its critics and threatening to sue them for lost revenue.

“As a general rule, seeking damages against such people is a possible target for discussion, although we’ve not decided anything,” Kepco President Makoto Yagi said at a new conference on March 18.

Kepco said it was desperate to have Takahama reactors 3 and 4, which are in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, back online before April 1 so it can offer more competitive rates when full deregulation of the electricity market takes place. The utility loses about ¥10 billion a month when the reactors are offline.

The plaintiffs in the Shiga case, however, fired back at Yagi last week.

“Such comments are a threat to others who don’t want to see another nuclear accident and want to go to court to seek provisional injunctions against other possible restarts throughout Japan,” two groups involved in the Shiga case said in a formal letter of protest to Kepco.

With anti-nuclear citizens and their lawyers energized by the court ruling, Kepco and other nuclear advocates in Japan fear a flood of new lawsuits will emerge from residents near any reactor that gets the green light to restart.

Just a couple of days after the Otsu ruling, 67 plaintiffs including atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki announced they had filed a lawsuit at the Hiroshima District Court to prevent the restart of three reactors at Shikoku Electric Co.’s Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Some of them also filed a separate suit seeking a provisional injunction to effectively block Shikoku Electric from restarting the Ikata plant’s reactor 3, which has already cleared new safety inspections and received local political approval, paving the way for its restart as early as this summer.

  • jimhopf

    There should be a counter-suit in response to that horrible decision, not just against the plaintiffs, but the judge who made the decision (and apparently thinks he should be able to substitute his judgment for the technical regulatory agency, and the great majority of all technical experts in the field).

    That said, although KepCo has been (financially) harmed by a wrongful legal decision, they may not be a very sympathetic figure.

    The real concern should be for the Japanese people, who are actually being greatly harmed by the indefensible decision to close all of the reactors and then take an inordinate amount of time to restart them. Japan has used fossil fuels (including coal) in place of its nuclear plants. Scientific consensus is that the public health risks and environmental impacts of fossil generation are vastly greater than those associated with nuclear, even including the possibility of accidents.

    Air pollution from that fossil generation has, over just the 5 years since the accident, likely caused thousands of Japanese deaths (i.e., far more than the total eventual deaths, if any, from the meltdowns themselves). Those fossil fuels have also greatly increased Japan’s CO2 emissions, forcing it to give up on most of its global warming commitments. And finally, the cost of using the additional expensive, imported fossil fuel, over just the last 5 years, has already exceeded the total cost of the meltdowns themselves (including plant decommissioning, land cleanup, and generous public compensation).

    The real victims of this judge’s decision are all the people who will be harmed by all those fossil fuel emissions and (further down the road) increased global warming. Who speaks for them? The anti-nuclear plaintiffs only seem to recognize the potential impacts of nuclear, and are completely blind to the (much worse) impacts of fossil fuels (as though they think electricity just comes from the wall). There should be away to file some kind of class action suit on behalf of all the people who will likely be harmed by all the fossil fuels Japan has decided to use in place of nuclear.

    This court decision amounts to an environmental crime, and it should be responded to accordingly (somehow).