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Kansai Electric’s Ohi Nuclear Reactors Restart Barred by Court

A Japanese court ruled against restarting two Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear reactors, accepting plaintiffs’ arguments that an accident at the plant could endanger surrounding residents.

The Fukui District Court said the need for nuclear power does not trump individuals’ right to safety in its ruling today against the restart of Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric’s Ohi atomic plant, Kyodo reported.

Kansai Electric, Japan’s second biggest utility and the most reliant on nuclear-generated power, has had three years of net losses from increased fossil fuel costs following the idling of its nuclear fleet.

The utility had applied to Japan’s atomic regulator for safety checks needed to restart the two Ohi reactors in Fukui prefecture. All of Japan’s 48 operational reactors are offline for safety checks following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“While nuclear reactors are important to society, they are but one method of creating electricity, and so are subordinate to personal rights,” the court said in its decision.

Kansai Electric spokeswoman Momoko Bano said the utility will appeal the ruling. Tetsuen Nakajima, the lead plaintiff in the case, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The plaintiffs argued that Japan was susceptible to quakes that the reactors may not be strong enough to withstand and that their spent fuel pools were not adequately protected. They also said the reactors could be damaged in landslides that may occur during an earthquake.

The Ohi units were the final reactors to be taken offline when they were idled in September 2013. A separate lawsuit seeking an injunction against the plant’s restart was rejected May 9 by Osaka High Court.

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