Japan court backs planned restart of 2 Sendai nuclear plant reactors

The Sendai nuclear reactors will be the first to go back online after having obtained safety approvals by regulators under new requirements introduced after the 2010 Fukushima disaster

TOKYO (AP) — A court rejected an injunction requested by local residents opposed to resuming operations of two nuclear reactors in southern Japan, giving the go-ahead Wednesday for their restart as planned this summer.

The Kagoshima District Court decision regarding the Sendai No. 1 and No. 2 reactors was a major relief for the power industry and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-business government. Another court last week banned restarts of two reactors in western Japan.

All 48 of Japan's commercial reactors are offline following the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

The Sendai reactors will be the first to go back online after having obtained safety approvals by regulators under new requirements introduced after that disaster. Their operator, Kyushu Electric Power Co., is making final preparations for their restart, expected around July.

The ruling said the new safety standards are adequate and the Sendai reactors have necessary steps in place.

Kagoshima's governor approved the restarts in November, saying they were necessary despite concerns among some local residents. The plant's host town, Satsumasendai, voted to restart the plant, part of a required process of local consent.

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the Sendai reactors passing grades in July under stricter safety requirements that factored in the lessons of the Fukushima meltdowns, which were triggered by a powerful earthquake and resulting massive tsunami that flooded the plant.

Opponents of restarting the Sendai plant are particularly concerned about several active volcanoes nearby.

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