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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 December 13 - 19  > Ikata NPP injunction is a warning about volcanic eruption risks
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2017 December 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]
editorial 

Ikata NPP injunction is a warning about volcanic eruption risks

December 15, 2017
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Hiroshima High Court on December 13 issued an injunction against restarting operations of the No.3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power (Yonden) Ikata nuclear power plant (Ikata Town, Ehime Pref.).

The reactor, currently under suspension for regular inspections, resumed its operations in August last year after passing a screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). However, opposing its operations, concerned residents in Hiroshima (Hiroshima Pref.) and Matsuyama (Ehime Pref.) cities applied for a provisional disposition injunction with the court.

As long as the suspension order is effective, the Ikata NPP will stay offline until September next year. Similar temporary halt rulings regarding other reactors have been issued in the past by the lower courts of Fukui (Fukui Pref.) and Otsu (Shiga Pref.), but this is the first time that a high court ruled against the restart of a reactor.

The judge in the high court gravely focused on the impact of a possible volcanic eruption.

Strictly based on the NRA's volcano impact assessment guidelines, the judge referred to the largest-ever eruption in Japan's history as a way to estimate a scale of an eruption of volcanoes which are located within a 160km zone from the Ikata NPP. He also referred to geological surveys the utility company itself conducted. Citing Mt. Aso's huge eruption that occurred 90,000 years ago as an example, he said that he cannot determine that pyroclastic flows from a major volcanic eruption would not reach the Ikata plant site. Accordingly, he concluded that the Ikata NPP location is "inadequate".

In addition, the judge pointed out that even a moderate-scale eruption could spew out twice as much rock and ash as the utility anticipates, adding that Yonden underestimates a possible eruptive volume.

Given this ruling, the locations of Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai NPP (Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Pref.) and Genkai NPP (Genkai Town, Saga Pref.) which are connected to the Aso Caldera as well as Hokkaido Electric Power's Tomari NPP No.3 reactor (Tomari Village, Hokkaido) should also be called in question.

The NRA's safety standards do not automatically guarantee the safety of NPPs. Nevertheless, the Abe government in its basic energy plan aims to have NPPs generate up to 22% of the total electric power supply in FY2030 and wants to resume as many as 30 reactors to achieve this target. This policy ignores the importance of people's lives and safety. The Abe regime should stop promoting the reactivation of reactors and end its love affair with nuclear energy.

Past related articles:
> Court rejects injunction request against restart of Ikata NPP [March 31, 2017]
> Residents within 50km zone from Ikata NPP sue for plant suspension [September 29, 2016]
> Court disallows restart of two reactors at Takahama NPP [July 13, 2016]
> District court issues order stopping operations of Takahama NPP [March 10, 2016]
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