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Japanese court prevents Shikoku Electric from restarting nuclear reactor

Shikoku Electric Power has been barred by a Japanese court from resuming operations at one of its nuclear reactors which was shut down following the 2011 Fukushima.

The judgment from the High Court in Hiroshima reverses a lower court decision which had previously cleared the decks for the restart of the company’s Ikata No. 3 unit, reported Bloomberg.

In March, the Hiroshima District Court had given a decision in favor of Shikoku Electric while turning down an appeal from local residents who wanted the 890MW unit at the Ikata nuclear station to be closed.

In contrast, the Hiroshima High Court’s decision to prevent the nuclear reactor from restarting favors local citizens in the area and was based on the potential risks faced by the plant from nearby volcanoes. The court also said that the risks associated with the volcanoes weren’t assessed rationally by the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority.

There will be no immediate impact on the operations of Shikoku Electric due to the high court judgment as Ikata No. 3 unit has been idled for maintenance purposes. However, the court decision does put doubts regarding any possible restart of the reactor in the future.

Following the high court ruling, the Japanese government’s push to get back to nuclear power has been further dented.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had previously revealed a vision of seeing nuclear power contribute about 22% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030.

A Shikoku Electric spokesman told Reuters that the injunction ordered the company not to restart its Ikata No.3 reactor until 30 September 2018. 

Image: Ikata Nuclear Power Plant. Photo courtesy of ja:User:Newsliner/Wikipedia.