Friday 23 March 2018

Japan court gives go-ahead for restart of two nuclear reactors

The nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui prefecture, western Japan (Kyodo News via AP)
The nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui prefecture, western Japan (Kyodo News via AP)

A Japanese court has given the go-ahead for two nuclear reactors to be restarted after their operator said in an appeal that they were safe.

The western Fukui District Court in April accepted an injunction request by a group of residents saying that a massive earthquake exceeding the facility's quake resistance standards could cause a disaster similar to the Fukushima crisis following the March 2011 quake and tsunami.

The lifting of the injunction on Thursday paves the way for a resumption of the Takahama No 3 and No 4 reactors, operated by the Kansai Electric Power Co.

The firm had already obtained the approval of safety regulators and the town and prefectural assemblies. Two of Japan's 43 workable reactors are currently back online.

The utility company plans to go ahead with loading fuel rods into the No 3 reactor within days, and go through final safety checks before putting the reactor back online in late January.

The Takahama reactors could be the third and fourth to restart, while prospects for a fifth one, the Ikata reactor in Shikoku, south-western Japan, are uncertain due to strong local opposition over evacuation plans in case of an emergency.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-business government wants to restart as many reactors as possible. The government says nuclear energy should remain key for resource-poor Japan.

Mr Abe is also pushing to export Japan's nuclear technology and recently signed a nuclear agreement with India.

Press Association

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