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article imageJapanese court allows restart of nuclear reactors

By Karen Graham     Apr 22, 2015 in World
Kagoshima - Kagoshima District Court on Wednesday dismissed a resident's injunction that would have halted the restart of two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Japan, giving a boost to the government's plans to bring back nuclear energy.
After suffering a huge setback last week, pro-nuclear proponents are cheering the latest court ruling that will allow the restart of two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant, owned by Kyushu Electric Power, in western Japan in July.
As reported in Digital Journal on April 14, a district court judge known for his anti-nuclear leanings thwarted an attempt to restart two reactors at the Takahama plant owned by Kansai Electric Power (Kepco).
It was hoped that this latest petition submitted to the court in Kagoshima Prefecture, on Japan's southern island of Kyushu, would also put a halt to plans to restart the Sendai reactors. The Sendai reactors have one last obstacle to overcome, and that is a final inspection of the reactors safety regime. That decision could come in June.
On Wednesday, presiding Judge Ikumasa Maeda said in his decision, “No unreasonableness is evident in new regulatory standards set by the NRA for nuclear power generation." According to the court's ruling, there was no reason to doubt the Nuclear Regulatory Authority's conclusions that the two reactors at the power station in the city of Satsumasendai did not meet safety standards.
The primary focus in the latest trial centered on the degree of maximum seismic vibrations" predicted by the company. This was the basis for the facility's "earthquake resistant" design. Reactor No. 1 started up in 1984, and Reactor No. 2 began operations in 1985.
In the court's decision, the presiding judge said: “Kyushu Electric conducted detailed investigations into earthquakes occurring in areas surrounding the grounds of the power plant and the geological features of the region, and then determined the maximum seismic vibrations by considering a certain measure of uncertainty involved in the prediction of natural phenomena."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for a restart of Japan's nuclear power plants, despite overall public opinion being against the planned restarts. Abe has repeatedly warned that the country's economy is at risk because of the high cost of imported coal and natural gas.
When all 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were online, they supplied 30 percent of the Japan's electric power needs. With the country's increasing dependence on fossil fuels and with plans to build more coal-fired power stations, it begs the question of Japan's ability to meet CO2 emission targets.
More about Kagoshima district court, rejected petition, Sendai nuclear power plant, Nuclear Regulation Authority, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
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