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Court Rules Japan's Nuclear Reactors Can Continue to Operate

  • VOA News

FILE - Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Ohi nuclear power plant No. 3, right, and No. 4 reactors, Ohi, Fukui prefecture, Japan. All of Japan's nuclear reactors were shut down in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

FILE - Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Ohi nuclear power plant No. 3, right, and No. 4 reactors, Ohi, Fukui prefecture, Japan. All of Japan's nuclear reactors were shut down in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

A Japanese court has rejected a challenge to a lower court ruling that allowed the restart of two nuclear reactors.

The Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court ruled Wednesday that the Number 1 and Number 2 reactors at the Sendai plant in southwestern Japan could remain operative. Local residents filed suit last year to keep the reactors shutdown, arguing that the plant's operator, Kyushu Electric Power, had underestimated the threat of volcanoes and earthquakes.

All of Japan's nuclear reactors were shut down in the aftermath of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, which occurred when an earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that struck the plant and knocked out its cooling systems, leading to core meltdowns in three of the six reactors.

It was the world's worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has advocated resuming nuclear power production as a key energy source for resource-poor Japan. Sendai's Number 1 reactor resumed operation last August, with the Number 2 unit coming back online in October.

Back in March, the Otsu District Court ordered Kansai Electric to shut down a nuclear reactor at its Takahama nuclear power plant, located west of Tokyo. The judge raised concerns about the plant's equipment upgrades and emergency response plans in his ruling, siding with residents who argued that a Fukushima-style incident posed a risk to Lake Biwa, a key water source for the region.

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