Four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a Japanese court has blocked the restarting of two nuclear reactors in the western city of Takahama, in a case that could complicate Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to return to atomic energy.
The reactors had already obtained approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), but locals raised safety concerns and ask the Fukui District Court to intervene, saying Takahama would not withstand a strong earthquake.
The landmark injunction could mean months or even years of delays, and hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for the two utilities.
In response to the injunction, the country’s nuclear watchdog said it saw no need to revise current regulatory standards, which were signalled as “lacking rationality” by the Fukui Court, Reuters reports.
All of Japan’s 48 commercial reactors remain offline following 2011’s Fukushima disaster, which has forced the island nation to import greater amounts of expensive natural gas and coal to meet its energy needs.
Before the nuclear disaster, caused by a massive quake and tsunami, about 30% of Japan’s power was nuclear generated.
This is not the first time Abe’s plans are thwarted by courts. Last year Kansai Electric Power (TSE:9503) was not allowed to carryout a plan to restart two idled nuclear reactors at Ohi north, near Osaka, because of their potential vulnerable to earthquakes. The ruling marked the first time a lawsuit brought by anti-nuclear plaintiffs has been successful in Japan’s forty-year history of nuclear power.