• Kyodo

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Shikoku Electric Power Co. said it won’t appeal a high court injunction against operating the No. 3 reactor at its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture, at least for the time being.

“It is not the right time to appeal the injunction,” Shikoku Electric President Keisuke Nagai told Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura as he apologized Monday for a series of problems at the facility, including a temporary loss of power Saturday.

Meeting with Nakamura in Matsuyama, Nagai said the company still sees some problems with the decision handed down Jan. 17 by the Hiroshima High Court.

The court ordered the utility to suspend operation of the plant’s No. 3 reactor, determining that rules and risk assessments by Shikoku Electric and the Nuclear Regulation Authority regarding an eruption of the Mount Aso volcano, about 130 kilometers away, are inadequate.

The No. 3 reactor, currently not in operation for regular maintenance and inspections, restarted operations in 2018 under strict safety regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima crisis led to a nationwide halt of nuclear power plants.

The injunction dealt a blow to the government’s bid to bring more reactors back online.

On Saturday afternoon, the nuclear plant was hit by a blackout while a periodic inspection of the No. 3 unit was underway.

Power was restored in about 10 seconds as an emergency diesel generator and units were activated, but Shikoku Electric revealed “almost all power sources were temporarily lost.”

That was not the only recent problem at the nuclear power station.

On Jan. 12, a control rod was mistakenly removed from the reactor and remained outside for about seven hours during maintenance work that included the country’s first removal of spent mixed-oxide fuel.

The rod, which controls the fission rate of the nuclear fuel, was accidentally lifted out of the containment vessel when the upper part of the apparatus that holds fuel assemblies in place was lifted by crane.

On Jan. 20, a warning indicating a fall in nuclear fuel in a spent fuel pool was activated.

Shikoku Electric said Saturday it has suspended regular checkups of the reactor, under way since Dec. 26, in the wake of the series of problems.

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