2017/03/28 Japanese court caves to nuclear industry

2017/03/28 Japanese court caves to nuclear industry

28 March 2017 – Today, the Osaka High Court caved to Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO) in overturning an injunction barring the restart of the Takahama 3&4 nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture. On 9 March 2016, the Otsu District Court issued a landmark injunction against the operation of the two reactors, stating that their operation with current unresolved safety concerns would violate citizens’ constitutionally protected human rights. It was the second time a court had ruled against the operation of Takahama 3&4. The previous injunction by Fukui District Court in 2015 had just been overturned and the unit 3 reactor restarted when the Otsu Court issued its ruling. The 2016 decision was the first known case in Japanese history, and likely globally, wherein a court ordered the shutdown of an operating nuclear reactor.

“While the overturning of the injunction was not wholly unexpected in the notoriously nuclear-friendly Japanese legal system, it clears the way for KEPCO to restart reactors that have serious unresolved safety issues. The fact that the lower courts have twice barred these reactors from operating due to the risk they pose to the public clearly shows the significance of the problems. The landmark decision on 17 March that holds both the Japanese government and TEPCO liable for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster should give KEPCO and the Nuclear Regulation Authority pause about moving forward with restarting these risky reactors,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

The Otsu Court action was brought by citizens in Shiga prefecture, parts of which are as close as 30km to the Takahama reactors. The plaintiffs argued that there was a risk of radiological contamination of Lake Biwa in Shiga, the drinking water source for 14 million people in the Kansai  region of western Japan. The significant outstanding issues include major seismic fault lines,  the use of plutonium MOX fuel in the reactors, and the weakness in emergency planning in the event of a severe accident, which remain unaddressed by both KEPCO and the regulator.

There are now three reactors operating out of the 54 that were available in 2011.  Currently, there are legal challenges pending against the operation of reactors throughout Japan. These legal challenges result in significant delays and cost increases for Japan’s crippled nuclear industry, even when injunctions are overturned years later.

Media contacts:
Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Japan kendra.ulrich@greenpeace.org, phone: +81 90 6478 5408

Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, chisato.jono@greenpeace.org, phone +81 80 6558 4446