Residents want Niigata reactor construction permit nullified

Residents want Niigata reactor construction permit nullified | The Japan Times Online

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007

Residents want Niigata reactor construction permit nullified

NIIGATA (Kyodo) Niigata residents seeking nullification of the 1977 government decision that allowed Tokyo Electric Power Co. to build a nuclear reactor in the prefecture are set to argue that the construction permit was illegal, their lawyers said Monday.

The plaintiffs, who have appealed a lower court decision rejecting their demand to the Supreme Court, plan to submit a petition to the top court Sept. 20 saying the major earthquake that hit Niigata in July showed that the construction permit was illegal.

The Tokyo High Court in November 2005 upheld a district court decision rejecting the residents’ lawsuit and ruled there was nothing wrong with the procedures leading up to the government’s approval of the plan to construct the No. 1 reactor at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, nor with the preceding safety review.

The plaintiffs, who live near the plant straddling the city of Kashiwazaki and the village of Kariwa, plan to tell the Supreme Court that the shaking caused by the July 16 quake was stronger than anticipated and thus discredited the safety review, their lawyers said.

They will argue that the active fault thought to be located beneath the plant had been underestimated and will seek a “rare” Supreme Court session to review — based on scientific knowledge gained from the recent quake — the standards for safety reviews and construction approval. The current regulations are about 30 years old.

In 2005, the high court rejected an assertion by the plaintiffs that there is an active seismic fault near the facility, saying the safety review confirmed the crustal fractures in the area would not cause earthquakes that could lead to a major accident at the power plant.

“The earthquake proved that (issuing) the construction permit for the nuclear reactor was a mistake,” said Mitsuhiro Wada, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. “The public’s interest concerning safety matters is high. The Supreme Court’s decision is being called into question.”

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