Court orders Japanese company to shut down reactor

TOKYO - A court issued an unprecedented order Wednesday for a nuclear reactor in western Japan to stop operating and ordered a second one to stay offline.

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The Otsu District Court that issued the injunction said the emergency response plans and equipment designs at the two reactors have not been sufficiently upgraded after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Wednesday's order requires Kansai Electric Power Co. to shut down the No. 3 reactor immediately and keep the No. 4 offline at the Takahama plant in Fukui prefecture, home to about a dozen reactors.

The two reactors restarted this year after a high court in December reversed an earlier injunction by another court. The No. 3 reactor, which uses a riskier plutonium-based MOX fuel, resumed operation in late January, while the No. 4 reactor had to be shut down late last month after operating just three days because of a series of technical problems.

The decision reflects Japan's divisive views on nuclear safety and leaves only two of the country's 43 reactors in operation.

Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said the operator has not fully explained how exactly it upgraded safety features at the two Takahama reactors under the post-Fukushima safety standards. The utility has not fully explained its design philosophy or its measures to mitigate power loss and its evacuation plans in case of a severe accident and a massive tsunami.

Kansai Electric said the decision was "disappointing" and planned to appeal.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government wants to restart as many reactors as possible. It says nuclear energy should remain a key power source for Japan, which has few natural resources to fuel its economy.



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