NEWS

Construction Continues on Units 3 and 4 of Kobe Steel’s Coal-fired Power Plant

2020.02.07

A local organization captures on video the state of construction of Units 3 and 4 of Kobe Steel’s coal-fired power plant in Nada Ward, Kobe

Kobe Steel is building two 650 MW coal thermal power plants.
Local residents, concerned about the impact on air pollution and climate change, called for a review of the plan, and in December 2017 filed a petition for pollution arbitration with the Hyogo Prefectural Pollution Examination Committee in which discussions with Kobe Steel and Kansai Electric Power took place(link: https://sekitan.jp/info/coalpowerplant-kobe_201801/). However, pollution arbitration discussions were unable to continue after Kobe Steel and their partners announced their construction plan in August 2018 in the middle of discussions (which were cancelled in December of that same year). In response, as a new legal measure against Kobe Steel, its subsidiaries, and Kansai Electric Power, local residents filed a civil lawsuit in September 2018 seeking to suspend the construction and operation of the plants. Additionally, In November of the same year, they filed an administrative lawsuit against the government (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), which had approved the construction despite an insufficient environmental assessment. Currently, these cases are still ongoing, as citizens fight the construction of the power plants in two courts.

Video of the current state of Kobe(2020/1/28)

This video was shot from a train (JR Kobe Line) between Sumiyoshi to Rokkomichi stations. The power plant is situated close to the center of Kobe city, with many apartment buildings and commercial facilities located in its vicinity; the nearest residence is only 400 meters away from the boundary of the Kobe Steel construction site. At the end of 2019, the plant’s chimney was completed, and the facility where the generator will be installed can be seen to be nearing completion. Once the two new power plants begin operation, they will emit 6.9 million tons of CO2 per year. Additionally, when combined with Units 1 and 2, which have been in operation since 2002, the expected combined scale will be 2.7 GW, emitting 14 million tons of CO2 per year. This will account for about 1% of Japan’s total emissions, with the country’s largest cluster of coal-fired power plants surfacing in close proximity to the residential areas of Kobe, a city with a population of more than 1.5 million.

Despite the demand from both within the country and abroad for Japan to move away from coal, if these power plants go into operation, it will ensure that substantial amounts of CO2 and other air pollutants will continue to be emitted for more than 30 years, significantly impeding measures to prevent climate change. Residents are fighting in two arduous court cases to secure a stable climate and clean air for their children to live in, and with political and administrative means so far ineffective in stopping the construction of coal-fired power plants, attention now turns to how the judiciary rules based on its perception of dangerous climate change issues.