Reuters reported today:
A Japanese court on Tuesday issued an injunction to prevent the restart of two reactors citing safety concerns, in a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to return to atomic energy four years after the Fukushima crisis.
It is the second court ruling in less than a year against reactors operated by Kansai Electric Power, the country’s most nuclear-reliant utility before Fukushima.
The ruling is seen as a major setback to Japan’s nuclear industry:
The ruling is a snub to Japan’s beefed up nuclear safety after Fukushima and threatens to set back government plans to restart reactors deemed safe by the atomic regulator.
Kansai’s reactors, located on the coast of Fukui prefecture in western Japan, have met basic safety regulations set by Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA) and were expected to be restarted some time this year.
“The fact that the court ruled in favor of the injunction after regulators had already given the go-ahead carries weight and will have an impact,” said Hiroshi Segi, a former judge who is now critical of the judicial system because he feels it is often reluctant to challenge government policy.
The decision constitutes a significant loss for Kansai Electric:
Kansai Electric said it would appeal the decision, but it could mean months, even years of delays and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the utility, which is about to report a fourth annual loss since Fukushima.
More legal actions are pending against the industry:
Judges are now considering injunctions that could halt the restarts and indefinitely extend the countrywide shutdown of Japan’s 43 operable reactors.
A ruling on a similar injunction against a Kyushu Electric Power Co plant in southern Japan is scheduled for April 22. Kyushu Electric’s Sendai station is “very close” to being approved for restart, an official at the regulator told Reuters last week.