Court to rule on restart of Shimane nuclear reactor in western Japan

A court in western Japan will rule on Wednesday whether to allow the restart of a reactor at the Shimane nuclear power plant.

Four residents of Shimane and neighboring Tottori prefectures filed suit in March last year, seeking an injunction to block the restart of the plant's No.2 reactor.

The unit has been offline since 2012 when it was halted for regular inspections. Nuclear regulators gave the greenlight to reactivate the reactor in 2021. Chugoku Electric Power Company plans to restart it in December.

The Matsue branch of the Hiroshima High Court is handling the case.

Plaintiffs argued that Chugoku Electric has underestimated the maximum possible tremor from an earthquake near the plant, as well as the volume of ash that could fall when a volcano erupts in the prefecture.

Chugoku Electric countered that the quake estimate is practical as it is based on science. It said the possibility of an eruption of a scale noted by plaintiffs is sufficiently small, and poses no tangible risk.

The Shimane complex in Matsue City is the only nuclear power plant that is located in a prefectural capital in Japan. The No.2 unit is a boiling water reactor, the same type as the ones that melted down in the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.