TOKYO – A Japanese high court ordered on Wednesday for the first time the suspension of the operation of a nuclear reactor citing security concerns after it was reactivated in August 2016 despite protests from local residents.
The Hiroshima High Court Wednesday ruled in favor of stopping reactor 3 in Ikata nuclear power station -now disconnected following a routine review- after questioning the estimates of operating company, Shikoku Electric, on the magnitude of a potential earthquake, a key factor in the design of a considerably resistant structure.
The ruling also questions, as the plaintiffs did, the new measures adopted after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, which established stricter requirements for the plants guaranteeing safety, reported Japanese news agency Kyodo.
The plaintiffs argued that by calculating the possible magnitude of an earthquake, the company underestimated the fact that the reactor is right on the anticipated Nankai Trough mega quake -where several studies have predicted the high likelihood of strong tremors in the coming decades- and that is near a geological fault.
The plaintiffs, four residents of areas close to the plant, also claimed that the post-Fukushima regulations cannot guarantee safety and that an accident or a natural disaster could cause significant damage as measure were taken without fully knowing the causes of that massive tremor.
In March 2017, a district court in Hiroshima ruled in favor of the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority saying safety was guaranteed, a sentence that was revoked Wednesday.
The decision of Hiroshima High Court contrasts with that of Osaka High Court taken in March which revoked the decision of a lower court to stop reactors 3 and 4 of Takahama nuclear center over safety concerns.
The one in Ikata is one of the three operating reactors in Japan (of the total 42 existing in Japan), a revival that began in 2015, and promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to which most of the citizens and local authorities have remained opposed.