KANAZAWA, Ishikawa Pref. (Kyodo) The Nagoya High Court on Wednesday overturned a lower court’s order to shut down the nation’s second-largest nuclear power station because of its lack of earthquake resistance.
The high court’s branch in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, rejected the argument of a group of people living near the reactor that they could be exposed to radiation in the event of an accident triggered by a major earthquake.
The residents and other people who brought the lawsuit said they will appeal to the Supreme Court.
“We cannot recognize the specific dangers to residents being exposed to radiation due to an accident, as the assessments of active fault and seismic shaking are appropriate,” presiding Judge Nobuaki Watanabe said.
Watanabe said safety measures by Hokuriku Electric Power Co. for the No. 2 reactor at its power plant in Shika, Ishikawa Prefecture, are in line with the government’s earthquake-resistance guidelines, which were revised after the lower court ruling.
The Kanazawa District Court supported the plaintiffs’ case in a March 2006 ruling. They had argued that the quake resistance data for the reactor were not adequate because it had been built based on the old government safety guidelines.
The lower court ordered Hokuriku Electric to close the No. 2 reactor in the first ruling calling for a halt to operations of a commercial power reactor.
The plaintiffs, 128 residents from 16 prefectures, including Tokyo and Ishikawa, have been claiming the government’s new guidelines were not adequate because an earthquake that struck the area in 2007 shook the nuclear plant twice as hard as predicted when the facility was designed.
Hokuriku Electric argued that it has taken all necessary measures to secure the safety of the reactor’s operations based on the new guidelines, including reinforcement work to the reactor, after expanding the assessment areas of active faults running near the plant.
The utility also insisted the old guidelines were adequate.
The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit with the lower court in May 2005.
The two-reactor Shika nuclear plant sits on the western side of the Noto Peninsula along the Sea of Japan coast.
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