Govern­ment, util­ity cited in Fukushima dis­as­ter

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS - By Mo­toko Rich ©2017 The New York Times

The Ja­panese govern­ment and the elec­tric util­ity that op­er­ated the Fukushima Dai­ichi nu­clear power plant were neg­li­gent in not pre­vent­ing the melt­downs in 2011 that forced thou­sands of peo­ple to flee the area, a district court in eastern Ja­pan ruled on Fri­day.

It was the first time that a court de­ter­mined that both the Tokyo Elec­tric Power Com­pany, or TEPCO, and the govern­ment bore re­spon­si­bil­ity for the nu­clear dis­as­ter that fol­lowed a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake and tsunami in March 2011. The de­ci­sion could in­flu­ence dozens of sim­i­lar law­suits filed by close to 12,000 evac­u­ated res­i­dents now liv­ing across the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to Ja­panese news re­ports of the rul­ing by the Mae­bashi District Court in Gunma Pre­fec­ture, the court said that the dis­as­ter, con­sid­ered the worst nu­clear calamity since Ch­er­nobyl in 1986, was “pre­dictable” and that it was “pos­si­ble to pre­vent the ac­ci­dent.”

The court or­dered the govern­ment and TEPCO to pay dam­ages to­tal­ing 38 mil­lion yen, or about $335,000, to 62 res­i­dents who were evac­u­ated from the towns around the Fukushima plant and who re­lo­cated to Gunma. Each was awarded a dif­fer­ent amount, but the to­tal worked out to an av­er­age of $5,400 per per­son.

KO SASAKI / THE NEW YORK TIMES

The shell of a Re­ac­tor 1, which blew up in March 2011, re­mains at the Fukushima Dai­ichi Nu­clear Power Sta­tion in Fukushima, Ja­pan on Feb. 21.

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