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Residents file lawsuit to halt extension of old nuclear reactors

NAGOYA -- Seventy-six residents across 14 prefectures called for a halt to a 20-year extension of operations of two aging reactors at the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in a lawsuit filed with the Nagoya District Court on April 14.

    The residents are trying to halt an extension granted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) that would extend operation of the No. 1 and 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama nuclear plant for 20 more years. The two reactors are already more than 40 years old.

    According to lawyers representing the plaintiffs, the lawsuit is the first in the nation to question the safety of old nuclear reactors.

    The lawsuit presented by the plaintiffs argues that the NRA did not strictly evaluate the problems accompanying the aging of nuclear reactors or the danger of hydrogen explosions and other disasters.

    "The law sets 40 years as the base (for how long a nuclear reactor may be used) and limits extensions to exceptional cases where the reactor's safety has been recognized," argue the plaintiffs, who say that the two reactors at the Takahama plant should be subject to the so-called "40-year rule" and not reactivated.

    At a news conference in Nagoya, Sakae Kitamura, the head lawyer for the plaintiffs, pointed out the danger of nuclear power, referring to the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011.

    "Five years ago we saw that nuclear plants are dangerous, causing such terrible disasters. We want to start a movement in the judiciary of halting nuclear plant operations," he said.

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