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Fukushima operator hit by second multi-billion dollar US lawsuit

29 August 2017

Japanese utility Tokyo Electric Power Co Holdings (Tepco) said another lawsuit had been filed in a US court seeking $5 billion in compensation over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the second filed against the utility in a US court. The utility is being sued over improper design, construction and maintenance, claiming compensation for physical, mental and economic damages, the company said in a statement.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant before the 2011 disaster - Image: Tepco
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant before the 2011 disaster - Image: Tepco

The suit was filed by 157 individuals seeking to set up a compensation fund for the costs of medical tests and treatment after efforts to support the recovery from the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Tepco has been the target of more lawsuits than any previous Japanese contamination case following the meltdown of three reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Radiation forced 160,000 people from their homes, many of whom will not return, and destroyed businesses, fisheries and agriculture.

In June, a federal appeals court cleared the way for a group of US military personnel to file a suit against Tepco over radiation exposure that they say occurred during recovery efforts on board the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

Shareholders of Tepco are suing the utility’s executives for a record 5.5 trillion yen ($67.4 billion) in compensation, in a long standing case.

The company’s former chairman and other executives of the company appeared in court in June to answer charges of professional negligence, in the first criminal case after the meltdowns at the plant. They all pleaded not guilty.

The criminal and civil legal cases do not threaten financial ruin for Tepco, which is backstopped by Japanese taxpayers. The company faces nearly $150 billion of costs to decommission the Fukushima plant and clean up the surrounding area, according to the latest government estimate.
 


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