After hearing the claims of 166 plaintiffs who live within 150 miles of the Ohi nuclear power plant, a Japanese court has ordered the Kansai Electric Power Company to not restart two of the reactors at the Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, after determining there were insufficient safety measures and that the proposed need for nuclear energy does not have more weight than an individual’s right to safety.
The court ruled that “While nuclear reactors are important to society, they are but one method of creating electricity, and so are subordinate to personal rights.”
The Unit 3 and Unit 4 reactors at the Ohi nuclear power plant were taken offline for inspection in September 2013, but have not been allowed to restart until they met new safety standards set after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Kansai Electric, the most nuclear-reliant utility in Japan, denied that any safety problems exist at the Ohi nuclear power plant.
Residents around the Ohi plant filed a lawsuit requesting that the reactors be kept offline because they were concerned that Kansai Electric had underestimated the strength of tremors from potential earthquakes, because they were concerned that more protection should be added to spent fuel pools, and because they claimed the reactors lacked sufficient cooling systems in the event of an earthquake.
Judge Hideaki Higuchi determined that there was a deficiency in cooling functions in the event of an earthquake and the court upheld the claims of the plaintiffs against Kansai Electric.
The decision was the first ruling preventing reactor operations at a nuclear power plant since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Kansai Electric released a statement which communicated the utility’s regret that the court had failed to understand their claims and vowed they would fight to prove the safety of the Ohi nuclear power plant in a higher court.
According to lawyers in Japan, there are around 30 other lawsuits pending focused on 16 other nuclear power plants and nuclear facilities across Japan.