Fri, Jul 04, 2014 - Page 6 News List

Japan city in legal bid to halt nuclear plant construction


A Japanese city was yesterday asking a court for an injunction to prevent a nuclear power plant being built, in a country that remains deeply suspicious of the technology three years after Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident.

Hakodate Mayor Toshiki Kudo appeared at the Tokyo District Court yesterday afternoon to demand an indefinite freeze on construction of the nearby Oma nuclear power plant.

After a hiatus, building work resumed at Oma in October 2012, even as all Japan’s viable reactors were shut down amid safety concerns in the aftermath of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-ichi caused by a huge earthquake and resulting tsunami.

Kudo says Oma’s operator, J-Power — a formerly state-owned electricity wholesaler — and Japan as a whole have failed to learn the lessons from the crisis and are not doing enough to ensure communities near the power station are safe.

“After the Fukushima [Dai-ichi] nuclear accident, the government expanded the zone expected to be severely affected in the case of a nuclear accident from 8 to 10 kilometers to 30 kilometers around the site,” Kudo said on the city’s official Web site.

“But construction [at the Oma site] resumed without any explanation to, or consent from, Hakodate city or the southern Hokkaido region,” he said, referring to the northern island where the city is located.

Hakodate, on the southern coast of Hokkaido, sits partially within the 30km radius of the Oma nuclear power plant site across the Tsugaru Strait. Oma is at the northern tip of the neighboring Honshu island.

Kudo said the risk from Oma was increased because the operator plans to progressively increase the use of MOX — a blend of uranium and plutonium — until it is the sole fuel.

Despite strong government support and pressure from business for reactor restarts, the Japanese public remains wary, refusing to believe assurances that safety standards have been raised in an industry that was exposed by Fukushima Dai-ichi as having been in bed with its regulator.

At the site on Japan’s northeast coast workers are three years into the decades-long task of decommissioning reactors.

Tens of thousands of people are still in temporary accommodation, with experts warning some settlements may have to be abandoned forever.

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