Ooi (Ōi) nuclear power units stopped, Japan

Kansai Electric Power Company’s application to resume operation of two nuclear energy units met strong protests and the regional court granted injunction against the operation in 2014.


Description
Fukui Prefecture, with 13 commercial nuclear reactors clustered along a short coastline, had earned the area a reputation as a political stronghold for the atomic power industry before the Fukushima disaster, after which  nuclear power was switched off in Japan. [1] Nuclear-friendly politicians dominated most of Fukui’s government offices, and the region is nicknamed Genpatsu Ginza, or Nuclear Alley. Kansai Electric Power Company’s application to resume operation of two nuclear energy plants in Ooi in this region met strong protests and the regional court granted injunction against the operation in 2014. In the lawsuit, a group of 189 people from Tokyo, the plant’s host prefecture of Fukui and 20 other prefectures contended that the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi plant had resumed operating in August 2012 even though their safety had not been certified, claiming that the plant is sited near several active seismic faults and is not adequately protected against earthquakes. [2] Kansai (KEPCO), they claim, underestimated the maximum magnitude of earthquake that the units could face. The court ruled in favour of the plaintiffs and issued an injunction against Kansai restarting units 3 and 4, which were undergoing safety assessments by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) prior to restart. At a press conference, NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka noted that the court order applies to the restart of the reactors and not to the inspection process itself. He said, "We will continue with our examination ... as planned." Kansai said that it was disappointed with the court's decision but said that it would appeal the ruling in the high court. An editorial in The Japan Times [4] noted that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in reversing the  nuclear phaseout policy, had emphasized the economic viability and supply stability of nuclear energy. He dismissed the no-nuclear option in Japan’s energy mix as unrealistic, noting that the nation is losing trillions of yen each year due to the increased cost of fuel imports to run thermal power generators to make up for the shutdown of nuclear power plants. The Ooi court  ruling of 2014 discarded however a similar argument by KEPCO noting that it is legally irrelevant to discuss people’s fundamental rights to life on the same level as the question of rising costs of generating electricity. ================================================== Following the shut down of all of Japan's reactors after the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Ooi 3 and 4 had been given permission to resume operation in August 2012.  Four years before, in 2012, the Japanese government announced that unit 3 (1180 MWe) reached full capacity in the early hours of 9 July, becoming the first Japanese reactor to restart following suspension for periodic inspection since the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Its sister unit, Ohi 4, was expected to follow later that month.  On June 7, 2012, about 70 women including 10 women from Fukushima had done a "die-in" in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence to protest against the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant. Before the "die-in", 10 Fukushima women visited the Cabinet Office and met with officials to submit a letter of requests addressed to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.   Journalists reported, "It’s raining there. But a group of protesters against the restart of the plant has been facing the Fukui riot police in front of the entrance gate... Right now, the protesters are drumming and shouting “Saikado Hantai (no to restart)”.  Buddhist nun / writer Setouchi Jakucho joined hunger strike to protest against restarting Ooi nuclear plant. She became 90 years old on 5/15/2012. Her doctor warned her it could be fatal, but she joined without informing her doctor of it. She says, she can not die while leaving the country killing people with nuclear power. ============================================== In a parallel case, in 2015 a district court ordered the closure of two reactors switched on again after the 2011 disaster. The reactors to be closed were Kansai  reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant, about 350km west of Tokyo, not far from Ooi. It was the second time Judge Higuchi had issued an order forbidding a nuclear plant in Fukui to operate. He became a hero among antinuclear activists in May 2014 when, as explained above, he ruled that two reactors at another Kansai Electric facility, the Ooi nuclear plant, must remain switched off because the utility had not shown that they could be operated safely. However, after further court rulings, by 2016 Kansai Electric had  hoped to restart Takahama and aimed to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in 2017, although further injunctions could happen. There was a strong debate raised by Kunihiko Shimazaki, former acting chairman of the NRA. Shimazaki pointed out that Kansai Electric Power Co. underestimated the maximum shaking that could occur during an earthquake at its Oi Nuclear Power Plant. 
Basic Data
NameOoi (Ōi) nuclear power units stopped, Japan
CountryJapan
ProvinceFukui prefecture
SiteŌi
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
The Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc. ( KEPCO) is an electric utility of Kansai region, Japan (including the Kobe-Osaka-Kyoto megalopolis). Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, 11 nuclear reactors supplied almost 50 percent of the region’s power. The Ōi nuclear plants in Fukui prefecture were part of them, with a capacity of 4,710,000 MW. Two 1180 MWe pressurized water reactors (numbers 3 and 4) in Ōi were taken offline again for NRA inspections in September 2013. Authorization to restart is pending. In other cases in Japan, reactor restarts are facing significant implementation costs ranging from US$700 million to US$1 billion per unit, regardless of reactor size or age.
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Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date08/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesKansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO) from Japan
Relevant government actorsNuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAnti-nuclear groups include the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, Hidankyo, Sayonara Nuclear Power Plants, and the Article 9 group.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Women
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
"Die-ins". Drumming and chanting "Saikado Hantai" (not to restart).
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Fires, Other Environmental impacts
OtherRadiation risk (potential)
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesStop the nuclear power plants.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Since 2011 the nuclear power plant (units 3 and 4) has been stopped once, then reopened briefly, then stopped again by court order and after demonstrations, and by 2016 the situation in uncertain.
Sources and Materials
References

[3] Largest Demonstrations in Half a Century Protest the Restart of Japanese Nuclear Power Plants  過去半世紀最大規模のデモ、日本の原発再稼働に抗議
Piers Williamson, The Asia Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 27, No. 5, July 2, 2012.
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Links

[4] The Japan Times, editorial. Reflect on Fukui nuclear ruling. May 23, 2014. Fukui District Court’s ruling this week that it will not allow the restart of two nuclear power reactors run by Kansai Electric Power Co. challenges the Abe administration’s energy policy of keeping nuclear power as a key source of the nation’s electricity supply despite the safety risks that materialized in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.
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[1] The New York Times, Nuclear Reactors in Japan Remain Closed by Judge’s Order, JONATHAN SOBLE, APRIL 14, 2015
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Fukui court blocks Oi nuclear reactor restart, in landmark ruling
Operations halted pending verdict of ongoing NRA safety probe.
The Fukui District Court on Wednesday ruled that it will not allow the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant, which is currently under safety examination by the country’s top nuclear watchdog. The Japan Times, 21 May 2014.
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28 July 2016. Fukushima 311 Watchdogs. Doubts about nuclear plant’s quake resistance.
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Media Links

Women's die-in against restarting nuclear plants
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Fukushima Diary, 3 May 2012
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[2] World Nuclear News. Court rules against restart of Ohi reactors

21 May 2014
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Saikado hantai, no nuke!
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Other Documents

Lawyers demonstrate: The court ordered suspension (left); Justice is given and surviving (rigt)
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Other CommentsOn 29 June 2012, Japan witnessed its largest public protest since the 1960s. This was the latest in a series of Friday night gatherings outside Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s official residence. Well over one hundred thousand people came together to vent their anger at his 16 June decision to order a restart of Units 3 and 4 at the Oi nuclear plant [3].
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ContributorJMA (case suggested by Kenichi Matsui)
Last update05/12/2016
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