Fukui District Court on Friday rejected petitions to suspend aging nuclear reactors at two Kansai Electric Power (Kepco) plants in Fukui Prefecture.

The petitions were filed by local residents who claimed that safety measures were inadequate for the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama nuclear plant and the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant.

If an injunction had been granted, it would have been the first for a nuclear reactor whose operating period has exceeded 40 years.

In the petitions, the plaintiffs claimed that the design basis earthquake ground motions for the Mihama and Takahama plants are unreasonably low, given past past earthquakes observed in Japan.

However, Presiding Judge Yasushi Kato pointed out that it is necessary to fully consider regional differences when evaluating earthquake ground motions, and found no problems with Kepco's survey or the Nuclear Regulation Authority's (NRA) screening.

The court also found that the plant operator's checks on the aging of facilities were reasonable.

The court rejected the plaintiffs' claim that evacuation plans are inadequate, saying that they did not sufficiently explain the specific dangers that would prompt evacuation.

The No. 3 reactor at the Mihama plant started operation in 1976, and the Takahama plant's four reactors between 1974 and 1985. The Mihama reactor and the Takahama No. 1 and No. 2 reactors have been restarted with the NRA approval for operation beyond 40 years.

Kepco has also applied to operate the Takahama No. 3 and No. 4 reactors for beyond 40 years and the Takahama No. 1 reactor beyond 50 years.