Reactor Restarts Threatened By New Legal Precedent


BMI View : The decision by the Fukui District Court to disallow Kansai Electric Power from restarting the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant highlights the risk local communities pose to reactor restarts. This decision by the court was due to opposition from local communities, and increases the risk to future reactor restarts as it could create a legal precedent for future lawsuits.

On May 21, the District Court of the Fukui Prefecture ordered Kansai Electric Power (Kepco) not to restart the No. 3 and 4 reactors at its Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui. The lawsuit to block the reactors from being restarted was filed by 189 plaintiffs in Fukui, and the court's rationale for the decision was that the safety of the idled reactors has not been ensured. This decision comes at a time when the government plans to restart idled nuclear reactors across the country once the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) confirms their safety. This is the first court order in Japan to ban nuclear plant operations since the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

We had previously highlighted the risk local communities and governments pose to reactor restarts, and see this risk coming to the fore. The general public remains extremely wary towards nuclear energy, with polls showing that roughly half of the population are wary of all (or even partial) nuclear restarts (see 'Rising Fuel Import Costs To Drive Nuclear Restarts', January 21). This is a major risk to reactor restarts as the local authorities must give their approval for reactors in their jurisdiction to be restarted.

Not All In Favour Of Restarts
Japan - Survey On Local Governments Opinions On Nuclear By Yomiuri, January 2013

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Related sectors of this article: Power, Nuclear - Power
Geography: Japan