National

Court rules a third time against Takahama reactors

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

The Otsu District Court ruled against Kansai Electric Power Co. for the third time in five months Tuesday, in a decision that will keep its Takahama No. 3 and 4 reactors in Fukui Prefecture shut down indefinitely.

Both sides are now gearing up for an appeal by Kepco to the Osaka High Court, where a decision could come next year, while the plaintiffs are expected to file further suits.

The utility had filed an objection to the Otsu court’s March decision, which granted a temporary injunction on the reactors, forcing Kepco to shut them down about two months after they had been restarted.

The court reaffirmed its decision in June and again made the same ruling on Tuesday after Kepco fought the June decision.

“The utility was not arguing that both reactors were safe based on expert evidence and reasonable safety standards, but that they were safe due to detailed assertions directly related to their safety and prima facie evidence,” said presiding Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto, the same judge who has twice ruled against Kepco. “However, the new safety standards haven’t drawn the limits of what dangers should be accepted by society.”

Representatives for the plaintiffs welcomed the ruling.

“Once again, the Otsu court has ruled against the safety of restarting the reactors, especially with Lake Biwa nearby, even though Kepco has said it’ll likely appeal to the (Osaka) High Court,” said Yoshinori Tsuji, one of the chief plaintiffs.

The case boiled down to the basic question of what determines adequate safety for a nuclear power plant. It has raised questions about the way the Nuclear Regulation Authority is handling safety inspections for restarts.