National

Activists seek public hearings in Shiga on Takahama reactor restarts

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Anti-nuclear activists on Thursday urged the governor of Shiga Prefecture to hold formal public hearings on the potential economic, social and environmental risks from two reactors in neighboring Fukui Prefecture that are moving toward restart.

Representatives of the Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy, a group of scholars, engineers, lawyers, and activists, met with Gov. Taizo Mikazuki, who was elected on an anti-nuclear platform in July 2014, to discuss concerns over the restart of the No. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant and what impact a disaster would have on the prefecture.

“It’s important to have a place where Shiga residents can discuss the technical, economic, and social problems related to the restart of the Takahama reactors and a disaster response system in case of an accident,” said Hitoshi Yoshioka, chairman of the citizens’ commission and a professor at Kyushu University.

Parts of the northern Shiga city of Takashima, which has a population of 52,400, lie within 30 km of the Takahama reactors. The prefecture has long been concerned about the central government’s disaster response plans and wants to be consulted by both Kepco and the central government about the restarts.

In addition, the group called on the governor to seek a wide variety of expert advice about the cost of restarts, and to consult economists who are skeptical of claims by the pro-nuclear camp about the economic and financial benefits of restarts.

Mikazuki, they said, expressed a desire to sponsor a public hearing, probably sometime after local elections in April. Both the governor and his predecessor have long worried about the impact of an accident on Lake Biwa, which provides water to about 14 million Kansai residents.