Power companies and the government should not be under the illusion that the safety of nuclear power plants under the new standards of the Nuclear Regulation Authority has been endorsed by the judiciary. While last week’s decision by the Fukui District Court paves the way for Kansai Electric Power Co. to restart reactors No. 3 and 4 at its Takahama Nuclear Power Plant as early as next month, the court urged the utility and the NRA to make constant efforts to aim higher for safety in the operation of nuclear plants.
The Abe administration has pushed for restarting nuclear power plants idled in the wake of the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No.1 plant once they clear the new safety regulation introduced by the NRA — which the government has touted as the “world’s most stringent.” But as the court said last week, there is no “absolute safety” in nuclear power — as the Fukushima disaster has proven. The court decision does not rule out the risk of severe accidents at nuclear power plants.