A Japanese high court has ordered the suspension of a nuclear reactor in western Japan after local residents filed for an injunction over safety concerns.
The Hiroshima High Court issued the injunction on Friday afternoon for the No.3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture. The plant is operated by Shikoku Electric Power Company.
Three residents of an island in Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is close to the plant, had appealed against a lower court decision last March that rejected their request for an injunction.
The court considered the risks posed by an active fault in the area that could cause powerful quakes and a volcano about 130 kilometers from the plant.
In handing down the decision, presiding judge Kazutake Mori noted that the presence of an active fault near the plant cannot be ruled out.
He said the fault and the plant are less than two kilometers apart, but Shikoku Electric Power failed to conduct a full survey. He said there has been a mistake in the process that led the Nuclear Regulation Authority to give a green light for the plant's restart.
The presiding judge added that the impact of possible volcanic eruptions has been underestimated.
In December 2017, the high court ordered the operator to halt the No.3 reactor at the request of a different group of residents. But the next year, another presiding judge at the same court revoked the injunction, and the reactor was put back online in October 2018.
The reactor has been offline since last month for regular inspections. With Friday's decision, it is likely to remain offline even after April, when the inspections are scheduled to be completed.
The plant operator will lodge an objection to the injunction. A different presiding judge at the same court will hear the case.