Saga District Court rejects bid to suspend restart of nuclear reactors at Genkai plant

Kyodo

The Saga District Court on Tuesday rejected a request by local residents to suspend the planned restart of two nuclear reactors over safety concerns.

Some 70 people sought an injunction to halt the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant, questioning safety standards and citing the risk of a volcanic eruption in the region. The No. 3 reactor is scheduled to restart on Friday, with the No. 4 unit following in May.

Presiding Judge Takeshi Tachikawa said the utility’s safety measures are “reasonable” and the court found “no specific risk of (the reactors) causing serious damage.”

The decision was in sharp contrast with a Hiroshima High Court ruling in December to halt the planned restart of a reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant based on the possible eruption of Mount Aso.

As the 1,592-meter volcano is located some 130 kilometers from the Ikata plant, roughly the same distance as from the Genkai plant, attention focused on how the Saga court would evaluate the risk.

During the trial, plaintiffs from Saga, Fukuoka, Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Yamaguchi prefectures expressed doubt about the credibility of new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, saying they were compiled when the crisis had yet to be resolved.

The plaintiffs also claimed that there are no measures in place to respond to a catastrophic volcanic eruption, which cannot be forecasted.

Kyushu Electric argued it has taken safety steps and that there is no imminent danger of a serious accident.

In June last year, Tachikawa dismissed a similar request from a different group of residents for an injunction to stop the restart of the two Genkai reactors.

Separate from the lawsuits seeking injunctions, some 10,000 people in Japan and abroad have filed a suit demanding suspension of the Genkai reactors.