2016/03/25 Permanent shutdown of Ikata reactor highlights Japan’s aging nuclear crisis

プレスリリース - 2016-03-25
Fukui, March 25 2016 – The report today that a decision will be made to permanently shutdown Ikata reactor 1 highlights the deep crisis of Japanese power companies faced with a fleet of aging nuclear reactors, Greenpeace stated today. The Ikata reactor, owned by Shikoku Electric began operation in 1977.(1) The announcement from the utility comes on the same day as the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) closed its public comment on the first stage of its review of the Kansai Electric Takahama 1&2 reactors, both of which are older than Ikata 1. Shikoku Electric, until today, had committed to eventually restarting the Ikata 3 reactor. The closure of Ikata 1 follows last years decision to shutdown 5 other old reactors in Japan.(2)

Only two weeks ago the Otsu district court in Shiga prefecture ruled that the NRA approach to nuclear safety in the case of the two other Takahama reactors (3&4) was inadequate, resulting in the violation of Japanese’s citizens constitutionally protected human rights. Greenpeace, in submitting comments to the NRA today, emphasized that the regulators proposed approval for the Takahama 1&2 reactors, ignores the additional safety risks at Takahama due to their age, and is both illogical and unjustified. The organization called on the NRA to immediately halt the review process for the Takahama 1&2 reactors. The reactors began operation in 1974 and 1975 respectively.

In support of public and political efforts to permanently shutdown the Takahama nuclear power plant, and the other five reactors owned by the Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO), the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior will arrive in Fukui on March 26th. The ship has just completed one month of work in support of Greenpeace radiation research into the marine impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi accident along the Pacific coast of Fukushima. 

“The planned shutdown of Ikata 1 is a victory for the people of Shikoku opposed to operating reactors that are clearly unsafe. The Otsu court intervened to stop the operation of the Takahama 3&4 reactors on the basis that the current NRA safety review is so inadequate that operating the reactors under these standards is a human rights violation. It further highlights the utter failure of the Abe government’s nuclear policies. Yet the NRA is still pushing forward with a restart process for the older and riskier Takahama 1&2 reactors as if nothing has happened. The reality is that the entire basis for how the NRA operates has been exposed as inadequate. Greenpeace demands that this flawed process be halted immediately. The message from today`s Ikata announcement to both Kansai Electric and the NRA is that there is no future for Takahama 1&2 and they need to be permanently shutdown,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.

Shikoku Electric has received approval from the NRA to restart the Ikata 3 reactor. However, as in Shiga prefecture, citizens in Shikoku have launched an injunction lawsuit against the reactors operation on the grounds that the NRA and utility have ignored major seismic risks to the plant, and that current evacuation plans would fail to protect thousands of citizens living on a peninsula on the Seto Sea in the event of a severe accident. Shikoku Electric are attempting to restart the Ikata 3 in August 2016. 

“Shutting down one of their reactors may be a strategy of Shikoku Electric to reduce public pressure against their plans for operating Ikata 3 – but it won`t work. The safety case for Ikata 3, as with Takahama, is so full of holes that there is no justification for continuing their efforts. The Ikata shutdown decision is only one of many that will take place over the coming years as the people of Japan force the end of nuclear power and an instead transition to a renewable energy future. The sooner the utilities, NRA and the Abe government wake up to this reality the better,” said Hisayo Takada, Deputy Programme Director at Greenpeace Japan.

The risks to the Kansai region from the restart of the Takahama reactors cannot be understated. The Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior is sailing from Fukushima – where it was bearing witness to the ongoing radiological crisis – to Fukui Prefecture, bringing both evidence of the environmental consequences of a severe nuclear accident and the implications for Fukui and the Kansai region, and a vision of hope for a truly safe, clean renewable energy future. Greenpeace will be working with local citizens in Fukui and Kyoto prefecture during its nine day visit to the region.

On April 1st 2016, Japanese citizens for the first time will have the opportunity to choose their electricity supplier, while KEPCO reels in shock from the shutdown of its Takahama reactors. It is expected that any legal proceeding to overturn the Otsu district court ruling will take months, with almost no prospect of the Takahama reactors 3&4 restarting in 2016. KEPCO themselves have stated that operation of the older Takahama reactors 1&2 will not be possible before 2019. Greenpeace suspects that the utility has no real intention to restart them, but cannot admit so given the financial implications such an admission would have.

Media contacts

Kendra Ulrich, Greenpeace Japan, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, email: , mob: +81(0) 90 6478 5408

Hisayo Takada, Greenpeace Japan, Deputy Programme Director, email: hisayo.takada, mob: +81 (0)80 6647-8503

Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, email: , mob: +81 (0) 80-6558-4446

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours) 

1 – NHK reported this morning that at the next board meeting of Shikoku Electric a decision will be made to shutdown the Ikata 1 reactor - http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20160325/k10010455421000.html 

2 – Shikoku Electric, joins four other utilities that in 2015 announced the closure of five aging reactors – Kansai Electric Mihama 1&2; Kyushu Electric Genkai 1; Chugoku Electric Shimane 1; JAPCO Tsuruga 1, with a total of 6.7 GW electricity capacity.