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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Court ruling scuppers Japan's nuclear restart programme

Shikoku Electric Power Co told to keep its Ikata No 3 clsoed and the plant off-line as Abe pushes to fire up atomic stations post-Fukushima

Hiroshima decision is a blow to Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe's hope to restart nuclear facilities. Kazuhiro Nogi /AFP
Hiroshima decision is a blow to Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe's hope to restart nuclear facilities. Kazuhiro Nogi /AFP

A Japanese court overturned a ruling that allowed a nuclear reactor in the country’s south to operate, frustrating the government’s push to bring online dozens of plants shut in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The decision by Hiroshima High Court reverses a lower ruling that had cleared the way for Shikoku Electric Power Co to operate its Ikata No 3 unit, according to the company on Wednesday. Siding with local citizens, the court told the utility to keep the plant off-line. The reactor, which restarted last year under stricter post-Fukushima safety regulations, has been shut for maintenance and scheduled to go back online January 20.

Shikoku Electric fell as much as 11 per cent in Tokyo, the biggest intraday decline since May 2013.

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The injunction is a blow to the prime minister Shinzo Abe’s goal of having nuclear power account for as much as 22 per cent of the nation’s electricity mix by 2030. Public opposition through local courts and municipal governments has emerged as one of the biggest obstacles to that plan. Just four of Japan’s 42 operable nuclear reactors are currently online.

The Hiroshima District Court sided with the utility in March in deciding not to issue a temporary injunction. No high court in Japan has overturned a lower court ruling regarding nuclear restarts since the Fukushima disaster.

The company said the ruling was “unacceptable” and it is seeking its reversal. The injunction is effective through September 30, 2018, according to Nikkei.

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