Japan Court Bars Operation of Two Kansai Electric Reactors

  • Kansai Electric's nuclear unit to begin shutdown on March 10
  • Government stands by plan to have nuclear part of energy mix

A Japanese district court issued an injunction preventing Kansai Electric Power Co. from operating two nuclear reactors at its Takahama plant in western Japan, undermining Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s effort to promote a return to nuclear power.

The Otsu District Court cited safety concerns in a decision that applies to the plant’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, according to court documents. The utility will abide by the order and begin shutting its No. 3 unit on Thursday, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The injunction runs against the government’s goal of having nuclear power account for as much as 22 percent its electricity mix by 2030. The court decision will have no impact on the nation’s policy of promoting reactor restarts, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters after the ruling.

The No. 4 reactor, which restarted in February, was placed in cold shutdown on March 2 following the triggering of an alarm. Takahama No. 3 resumed operations in January under a new safety regime introduced after the Fukushima disaster five years ago, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1985.

Kansai Electric, Japan’s second-largest power utility, will seek to have the court injunction overruled, it said in a statement. The utility also said it will do its utmost to prove the safety of the Takahama reactors.

The Fukui District Court, based in a nearby area that could be exposed in an accident, had previously prevented a resumption of operations at Takahama last year on safety concerns. The court removed that injunction in December.

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