Court Rejects Petition to Halt Shimane N-Reactor

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The No. 2 reactor at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane nuclear power station in Matsue, Shimane prefecture.

Matsue, Shimane Pref., May 15 (Jiji Press) — A high court branch Wednesday rejected a petition seeking to stop Chugoku Electric Power Co. from restarting operations of the No. 2 reactor at its Shimane nuclear power plant in western Japan.

The Matsue branch of Hiroshima High Court dismissed the petition filed in March 2023 by four residents in the prefectures of Shimane and Tottori, which neighbor each other, saying that there is no proved risk of a nuclear accident at the plant.

At issue were the validity of the design basis earthquake ground motions, or the assumed level of shaking used as a standard in designing earthquake-resistant structures, for the reactor and the effectiveness of evacuation plans.

Presiding Judge Yoshiki Matsutani said that it is necessary to take regional characteristics into account in deciding the design basis earthquake ground motions.

While the residents claimed that the assumed level of ground motions was unreasonable as it was lower than a strong quake that occurred in western Tottori in October 2000 and the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, the judge concluded, “It cannot be said that it is reasonable to simply compare numbers.”

The judge also dismissed the residents’ claim that the evacuation plans were inadequate, saying that the specific risk of a serious accident occurring at the plant in Matsue, the capital of Shimane, is not sufficiently explained.

The Shimane No. 2 reactor is the only reactor in the country located in a prefectural capital. The 820,000-kilowatt unit, which started operations in 1989, is a boiling-water reactor, the same type as the reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which suffered a triple meltdown following the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Chugoku Electric plans to reactivate the Shimane No. 2 reactor in December this year.

The company said in a statement, “We believe we’ve obtained the court’s understanding over our claims on safety and other issues.”