A Japanese high court in Hiroshima on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, revoked a lower court decision that allowed Shikoku Electric Power Company to continue operating unit 3 of its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture. The unit is one of five reactors that have so far restarted after Japan shut down all of them in the wake of March 2011 disaster at Fukushima NPP.
The high court suspension order is the first in a series of similar injunctions, according to The Japan Times. It mandates that the plant operator shutter the No. 3 unit at the Ikata power plant until the end of September 2018. The ruling blocks the planned resumption in January of the unit, which is currently offline for regular checks after it was restarted in August 2016.
The high court questioned a decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority that potential risks associated with volcanic eruptions would not breach the stricter regulations introduced following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The plaintiffs, four residents from Matsuyama in Ehime and Hiroshima, claimed that in calculating the size of a potential earthquake, the utility had underestimated the fact that the reactor lies above the epicenter of an anticipated Nankai Trough mega-quake, and that it is located near a geologic fault.
Shikoku Electric said the court’s decision is 'unacceptable' and plans to file an appeal.
After the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, Japan ordered shut down of all its 54 nuclear reactors for safety checks. Five have so far cleared inspections: Kyushu's Sendai units 1 and 2; Shikoku's Ikata unit 3; and Kansai's Takahama units 3 and 4.
As of April 2017, 30 countries worldwide are operating 449 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 60 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries.
Featured image: Ikata Nuclear Power Plant. Credit: Amake