10 Mars 2016
March 11, 2016
FUKUI (Kyodo) -- Kansai Electric Power Co. halted on Thursday a reactor at its Takahama nuclear power plant a day after a court ordered the utility to shut it down.
The other reactor at Takahama subject to the court order, the No. 4 unit, was already offline.
The No. 3 unit, which was reactivated Jan. 29, is the first active reactor in Japan to be suspended under a court injunction. The utility cannot reactivate the two units unless the order is overturned.
The No. 4 unit was restarted Feb. 26 but automatically shut down three days later due to an equipment problem. It was brought into a state of cold shutdown to investigate the cause of the trouble.
On Wednesday, the Otsu District Court ordered that the two reactors be halted as requested by local residents, citing "problematic points" in planned responses for major accidents, and "questions" on tsunami countermeasures and evacuation planning.
The ruling was a blow to the government's push for nuclear power under stricter safety requirements introduced after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the government will continue to seek the restart of reactors that have cleared the new safety regulations to ensure stable power supply in resource-poor Japan.
"I hope Kansai Electric will provide further explanations about the safety (of the reactors), and the government will also give guidance," Abe said at a press conference on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
The order came as Japan was on course to become reliant on nuclear power again after two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture were brought back online last year, followed by another two at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture earlier this year.
The government looks to derive 20 to 22 percent of the country's electricity from nuclear power in 2030 by bringing reactors back online after the Fukushima disaster led to a nationwide shutdown of nuclear plants.
The No. 3 and 4 units run on mixed oxide or MOX fuel, which is created using plutonium and uranium extracted from spent nuclear fuel. It is a key component of the nuclear fuel cycle pursued by the nuclear power industry and the government.