Gov’t accountable in Fukushima: Court
A Japanese court ordered on Oct. 10 the government and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to pay 500 million yen ($4.5 million) to thousands of former residents who demanded compensation for their livelihoods lost in the 2011 nuclear crisis.
The Fukushima District Court said the government had failed to order Tokyo Electric Power Co. to improve safety measures despite knowing as early as 2002 of a risk of a massive tsunami in the region.
The court upheld the plaintiffs’ argument that the disaster could have been prevented if the economy and industry ministry had ordered TEPCO to move emergency diesel generators from the basement to higher ground and make the reactor buildings water-tight based on 2002 data that suggested there was a risk of a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters.
The plaintiffs also had argued that TEPCO ignored another chance to take safety measures when a government study group warned in 2008 of a major tsunami triggering a power outage at the plant.
The tsunami that swept into the plant on March 11, 2011, knocked out the reactors’ cooling system and destroyed the backup generators that could have kept it running and kept the nuclear fuel stable.
The government and the utility have argued that a tsunami as high as what occurred could not have been anticipated and that the accident was unavoidable. The court ruling, however, dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand that radiation levels in their former neighborhoods be reduced to pre-disaster levels.