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Japanese court rejects request to keep the Onagawa-2 nuclear reactor offline

The Sendai District Court has rejected a request from Japanese residents to keep offline the 825 MW second unit of the Onagawa nuclear power plant, located in the Miyagi Prefecture (north-eastern Japan). The suit was filed by residents of Ishinomaki, a city situated close to the power plant which was harshly hit by the 2011 tsunami. The residents wanted to keep the reactor offline over an alleged flawed evacuation plan.

The Tohoku Electric Power Company plans to reactivate the Onagawa-2 reactor in February 2024. It will be the first reactor scheduled for a restart in parts of north-eastern Japan that were hit by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Onagawa-3 (825 MW) is also set up for restart in the future, while Onagawa-1 (524 MW) is set for decommissioning.

In February 2023, the Japanese Government approved a new green transformation policy that paves the way for the construction of new advanced nuclear reactors and allows the operation of nuclear reactors beyond their current 60-year limit. Under current rules introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, the operating life of a nuclear reactor is 40 years in principle. However, reactors and their vessels that pass the degradation inspections of the NRA can operate for an additional 20 years.

Japan’s reliance on nuclear power was reduced following the Fukushima accident, dropping from 25% of the power mix in 2010 to 1% in 2015, and back to 6.7% in 2021. Before the accident, there were 54 reactors spread over 17 power plants (49 GW in 2010 against 33 GW in 2021).

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