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A district court dismissed on Thursday a petition seeking a provisional injunction to halt operations at the No. 3 reactor of Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime Prefecture.

Seven residents of Ehime Prefecture and Hiroshima Prefecture filed the petition with Hiroshima District Court in March last year.

They plan to file a complaint against the ruling with Hiroshima High Court.

The case focused on whether Shikoku Electric set a reasonable design basis earthquake ground motion — or the level of shaking used as a standard in designing earthquake-resistant structures — for the reactor.

Presiding Judge Shigeyuki Yoshioka said that in order for him to issue an injunction, the residents needed to come up with evidence that there is a tangible risk of an earthquake larger than the design basis earthquake ground motion occurring.

Looking at a simple comparison of past examples of shaking in the country and the reactor's design basis earthquake ground motion without adjustments made in line with the ground structure of the Ikata plant, it cannot be said that there is such a tangible risk, the judge said.

The residents had claimed that the earthquake ground motion for the reactor, set at 650 gals, is underrated in the light of records of past earthquakes.

Shikoku Electric argued that the Nuclear Regulation Authority's screenings confirmed that the design basis earthquake ground motion was set appropriately.

Operations were halted at the No. 3 reactor in December 2019 due to regular checkups.

The reactor was slated to be reactivated in October this year after the completion of an antiterrorism facility, but the restart was postponed following a violation of safety rules in which emergency response staff at the plant neglected night duty.

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