Japan Court Bars Operation of Kansai Elec.’s Ohi Reactors

A Japanese court ruled two nuclear reactors in the western part of the country can’t resume operation, dealing a blow to the government’s effort to expand atomic power generation to help meet its net-zero emissions goal.

Osaka District Court ordered the government to revoke regulatory approval for Kansai Electric Power Co. to operate its Ohi No. 3 and No. 4 reactors in Fukui prefecture, the utility said in a statement Friday. It’s the first time a court has ruled to remove an operating license since the nation reformed its regulations in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Japan Court Bars Operation of Kansai Elec.’s Ohi Reactors

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, which said in 2017 that the reactors met new safety standards, will discuss with the Ministry of Justice whether it will appeal the ruling, a spokesman said. The lawsuit was filed by about 130 residents who argued that the regulator underestimated the magnitude of potential earthquakes and claimed the reactors aren’t designed to be resistant to large tremors.

“We cannot accept the ruling,” Kansai Electric said in a statement. “We will take appropriate measures after checking the details of the ruling and having consultation with the government.”

Kansai Electric shut the No. 3 reactor in July and No. 4 reactor in November for maintenance work. The No. 4 unit was scheduled to resume operations next month. Unless the ruling is appealed and overturned, the company may not be able to restart the reactors until it completes additional safety work and secures new approval from the regulator.

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