Japan court rejects request to shut down Ohi nuclear reactors

TOKYO (REUTERS) - A Japanese court rejected a petition to close down the country's only two operating nuclear reactors, in the country's first legal ruling on atomic power since the Fukushima disaster a little over two years ago.

Anti-nuclear advocates had sought to have the reactors at Kansai Electric Power's Ohi plant in western Japan shut down because seismologists suspect parts of the station sit above an active faultline, which would be against Japanese law on nuclear siting.

The injunction on Ohi was rejected by the court on Tuesday, Kansai Electric spokesman Akihiro Aoike said by phone.

The Fukushima disaster, the worst nuclear accident in the world in a quarter century, prompted the gradual shutdown of all Japan's nuclear reactors until there were none left operating in May 2012, leaving the country without atomic power for the first time since 1970.

Japan has faced a soaring fuel bill as power companies ramped up purchases of gas, oil and coal to make up for atomic power, which accounted for 30 percent of the country's electricity supply before the disaster.

A government decision last June to restart the Ohi reactors galvanised the country's previously dormant anti-nuclear movement, sparking the biggest demonstrations in decades. Media surveys have shown a majority of Japanese want to abandon atomic energy by 2030, if not sooner.

The country's new nuclear regulator is still investigating whether the suspected fault under the station is active.

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