The law in any country can be a complex business. That said, the verdict on Tuesday by a court in Japan to allow the Ohi nuclear reactors to stay open is especially puzzling.
Green Action, a campaign group, filed a lawsuit asking the court to shut down the reactors, the only two currently operating in Japan. In addition to Green Action and co-plaintiff d Mihama no-Ka, more than 260 people from the area around the plants were represented in the case.
To recap: Reactors 3 and 4 at the Ohi nuclear power plant are operating without new safety measures designed in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. There are three active earthquake faults nearby and the plant may be sitting on another.
There was massive, local opposition when the reactors were restarted.
The court’s verdict this week? Nothing to worry about. Carry on, Ohi!
According to Green Action the court declared: “Ohi is prima facie safe (safe until proven otherwise)”.
Think about that. The Ohi nuclear reactors are “safe until proven otherwise”. Lots of things are safe until proven otherwise. A shark is perfectly safe until it bites you. A gun is perfectly safe until it shoots you.
Not only that…
The court ruling is stating there is no legal requirement in Japan to meet the first golden rule of nuclear safety, the ability to shut down a reactor within the required time in the event of an accident/earthquake. This is not true. Ohi received its licensing permit on the premise that it met this shut down time limit. The Fukushima Daiichi accident would have been much worse if the reactors had not shut down properly on 11 March 2011. It’s a travesty that after Fukushima, a court would say that Ohi is prima facie safe until it’s proven otherwise,” stated Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action and co-lead plaintiff of the lawsuit.
The verdict ignores the fact that nuclear power is inherently unsafe. Uranium mining to make nuclear fuel for reactors isn’t safe. The nuclear waste produced by reactors isn’t safe.
In between, you have accidents, leaks, incompetence and cover-up. The list is almost endless.
Green Action are, needless to say, appealing the court’s verdict. Our hopes and best wishes are with them.