Plans to bring Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama No. 3 and 4 nuclear reactors back online were dealt a severe setback Tuesday when the Fukui District Court approved an injunction against restarting them, citing safety concerns.
It marks the first time in Japan’s nearly half-century of commercial atomic power operations that a court has ordered an injunction against firing up reactors.
The decision comes despite the Nuclear Regulation Authority appraising the reactors against technical and safety criteria and clearing them for restart last November.
The injunction, which took effect immediately, is expected to push back Kepco’s schedule — it originally envisaged restarting the reactors this November — but the longer term impact is unclear.
Part of the reason for the lack of complete surprise was that Nishimura and those seeking the injunctions felt that Higuchi, at least, might be on their side. So did Kepco, which undertook legal efforts to remove him. Those attempts failed last week when a high court rejected an appeal to overturn a lower court’s dismissal of a move to unseat them.
In a statement, Kepco expressed regret over the decision but said it remained determined to restart the Takahama reactors.
“We’re preparing to file the necessary papers to get the injunction lifted at the earliest possible date and will make efforts to stress the safety of the reactors,” the utility said.
Pro-nuclear Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, who was elected to a fourth term on Sunday, had no comment on the ruling and only addressed the safety issue in a written statement.
Kyoto-based anti-nuclear activist Aileen Mioko Smith said the ruling would likely have a huge political impact on restart plans elsewhere. But she added that she hoped the injunction will also influence nuclear safety policy at the NRA.
“The (injunction) ruling is a preventative measure. Seismologists have warned this area could see another big earthquake. To have an injunction will, hopefully, prevent another nuclear disaster like Fukushima, or worse,” she said.
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