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Takamatsu High Court rejects calls from residents to halt Shikoku Electric's Ikata nuclear reactor

Kyodo

A high court Thursday rejected calls from local residents to suspend the operation of a nuclear reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant that was recently restarted.

In upholding a lower court decision from July last year, the Takamatsu High Court said the No. 3 unit of the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture poses no danger, as it meets stricter safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

While the residents had claimed the new safety standards underestimate the risk of earthquakes and the reactor faces the threat of a nearby volcanic eruption, presiding Judge Ryuichi Kamiyama said the standards created by the Nuclear Regulation Authority “cannot be concluded to be unreasonable.”

“We consider it an appropriate decision. We will ensure safe operation, keeping in mind that there is no end to improving safety,” Shikoku Electric said in a statement following the high court ruling.

Last December, the Hiroshima High Court issued a provisional injunction ordering the utility to suspend the operation of the reactor, citing the risk of an eruption at a volcano some 130 km away.

It was the first such ban by a high court since nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 complex triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

But the same Hiroshima court revoked the decision in September, saying worries over a volcanic eruption damaging the plant were “groundless.” The decision allowed the unit to reboot the Ikata reactor on Oct. 27, with commercial operation expected to begin Nov. 28.

In July last year, the Matsuyama District Court turned down the residents’ plea to halt the Ikata unit, saying the reactor design was based on a reasonable earthquake projection, and it has been sufficiently proven that there is no risk of a volcano eruption damaging the plant during its operating time.