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Japan court orders two nuclear reactors to close

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A court in Japan has ordered two nuclear reactors in the country’s west to shut down, siding with local residents concerned about safety issues. 

The Otsu District Court issued the order on Wednesday, two days before the fifth anniversary of the country’s Fukushima disaster, Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, said.

The closed nuclear reactors are Kansai Electric’s No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Takahama plant on the coast of Fukui prefecture.

The court sided with residents who filed a lawsuit against the operation of the two reactors over safety reasons.

The No.4 reactor halted its operations last month due to technical problems days after restarted, but No.3 is now operating.

It is the first ruling that requires the closure of reactors that were restarted under beefed-up safety standards adopted by Japan’s nuclear regulator after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

This AFP file photo shows people looking at a village hit by a tsunami in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture.

In March 2011, a massive tsunami triggered by a magnitude-9 quake filled the Fukushima nuclear cooling systems with water, sending some reactors into meltdown and sparking a cleanup effort by the Japanese government that would take decades. The incident led to the evacuation of 160,000 people from areas near the power plant.

Shortly after the accident, radiation was released into the sea, food chain, and air, and now the Fukushima incident is the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

The Japanese government and utility firms have been pushing to get reactors back in operation although many people in the country oppose the return to nuclear energy following the 2011 crisis.

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