Fukui court blocks Oi nuclear reactor restart, in landmark ruling

Operations halted pending verdict of ongoing NRA safety probe


The Fukui District Court on Wednesday ruled that it will not allow the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant, which is currently under safety examination by the country’s top nuclear watchdog.

It is the first time since the Fukushima nuclear crisis erupted in March 2011 that a Japanese court has ordered a power supplier not to bring a nuclear plant online.

In the lawsuit, a group of 189 people from Tokyo, the plant’s host prefecture of Fukui and 20 other prefectures contended that the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi plant had resumed operating in August 2012 even though their safety had not been certified.

The resumption took place after all reactors across the country were shut down amid strong public concern over nuclear safety, in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by the quake and tsunami in March 2011.

The two reactors at the four-unit Oi plant on the Sea of Japan coast are now offline after being suspended again in September 2013 for regular checkups.

The reactors located in Fukui Prefecture are under examination by the Nuclear Regulation Authority to determine whether they can resume operations under new safety standards introduced nationwide last July.

None of Japan’s 48 reactors are allowed to resume operating unless they meet the new safety regulations, which for the first time oblige utilities to put in place specific countermeasures against severe accidents such as reactor core meltdowns triggered by huge tsunami — the direct cause of the Fukushima crisis.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reiterated that his government will push for the restart of reactors that have satisfied what it calls the world’s toughest regulations.

There are 14 nuclear reactors in Fukui — the most among the nation’s 47 prefectures.

“I have nothing to say about the legal judgment. We will just continue our examination of the Oi plant,” said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday in response to the court ruling.

Earlier this month, the Osaka High Court turned down a similar lawsuit filed by a group of residents in the Kinki region seeking to suspend the planned resumption of the two Oi reactors, upholding a lower court decision. The high court said it was inappropriate for a court to block the resumption before the Nuclear Regulation Authority decides whether to give a nod to the reactors.

  • Since this judge ruled based on the premise that the Constitution guarantees all inalienable human rights, including the rights to life and happiness, and that there were no 100% guarantees that there would not be an accident at Oi, and that if there was such an accident it would deprive people of those inalienable human rights so that therefore the court had a responsibility to issue an injunction against a restart which might, potentially, deprive people of their rights in violation of the Constitution…

    I hope that the judge’s next action will be to issue an immediate injunction against ANA, JAL, Peach and all other airlines from conducting flights as, in the event of an accident and as there are no 100% guarantees there will not be one, people would be deprived of their rights under the Constitution.

    I further hope the judge issues an identical injunction against all train, bus and ferry lines, as there are no guarantees there won’t be accidents there either, and we can’t run the risk, however slight, of a commuter having their fundamental rights placed at risk in the event of an accident.

    Perhaps the judge can continue by issuing injunctions against Nissan, Toyota, Honda and others for producing, on a daily basis, weapons of death and destruction directly responsible for over 2,000 people per year being permanently and irrevocably denied their fundamental human rights, not to mention the violation of the rights of their surviving family. How can we allow car makers, or knife makers, or industrial equipment manufacturers to continue to potentially violate the Constitution?

    And finally, if there is a brownout this summer due to insufficient electrical generating capacity, and someone dies due to heat stroke as a result of being unable to use their air conditioner, I sincerely hope this judge issues an injunction against himself for violating that person’s fundamental, Constitutionally-guaranteed right to life and happiness through his short-sighted and ignorant injunction of today.

    • qwerty

      blah, blah – I even further hope he issues an injunction against vending machines (have apparently caused about 35 deaths)

  • No, they do not. However the decision didn’t deal with whether land would be made uninhabitable, accept as tangential to the ability of the people on that land to enjoy their rights to life, liberty and happiness.

    To date not a single person has lost their right to life and liberty due to the Fukushima disaster on March 11.

    During that same period, over 6,000 Japanese lost their right to life and liberty due to motor vehicle accidents. And 2,000 more or so will continue to lose their right to life, liberty and happiness every year for the foreseeable future. This is not some abstract possibility, such as this ruling was based on, this is a daily reality.

    So which is a greater threat to our inalienable Constitutional rights? The Oi reactors, or motor vehicles and public transportation?

    This is not a ruling based on law, logic or reason, this is a ruling based on fear, ignorance and emotion.