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Published on : Dec 13, 2017

A court in Japan has upended a ruling that permitted a nuclear reactor in the country to begin operations, vexing the government’s plans to begin operations across several nuclear plants that were shut during the Fukushima disaster of 2011. The decision was made by the Hiroshima High Court citing risks from volcanoes in the vicinity. The court has said that risks to the plant from surrounding volcanoes were not evaluated rationally by the country’s nuclear industry regulation authority.

The decision sides with the local population and has reversed a ruling from a lower court that had allowed the Shikoku Electric Power Co. to begin operations in its Ikata No. 3 unit. The reactor was restarted the previous year under much stricter safety-related regulatory circumstances, was undergoing maintenance activities, and was scheduled to start on the 20th of January, 2018.

The ban issued by the Hiroshima High Court is in a way a big restraint to the country’s Prime Minister’s vision of making nuclear power account for nearly 22% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030. The plan to restart nuclear reactors in the country saw massive opposition from the public through municipal governments and local courts. Presently, only four of the country’s total 42 operable nuclear power plants are online. This ruling marks the first time that a high court in the country has ruled out the ruling of a lower court concerning the issue of restarting nuclear reactors since the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Shikoku Electric Power has called the ruling unacceptable and has said that the company will try to revoke the ban, which is effective through the 30th of September 2018.