Some 200 U.S. residents filed a suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) and a U.S. firm seeking at least $1 billion to cover medical expenses related to radiation exposure suffered during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the utility said Monday. The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with…
The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with U.S. federal courts in the Southern District of California and the District of Columbia by participants in the U.S. forces’ Operation Tomodachi relief effort carried out in the wake of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that crippled TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Many of the plaintiffs are suing TEPCO and the U.S. company, whose name was withheld by TEPCO, for the second time after a similar suit was rejected by the federal court in California in January.
They are seeking the establishment of a compensation fund of at least $1 billion to cover medical and other costs, the utility said.
The plaintiffs claim that the nuclear accident occurred due to improper design and management of the plant by TEPCO. They are also seeking compensation for physical and psychological damage suffered as a result of the disaster, said the utility.
In Operation Tomodachi, which began two days after the natural disasters, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and other U.S. military resources and personnel were deployed to deliver supplies and undertake relief efforts at the same time as three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex suffered fuel meltdowns.
Japan’s nuclear regulator to hire more legal staff to respond to Fukushima-related lawsuits
apan’s nuclear regulator will increase its number of legal staff from this spring to deal with lawsuits related to the Fukushima crisis, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority will increase the number of staff at an office in charge of litigation to 22 in the fiscal year starting in April from the current 17. In fiscal 2012, when the body was launched, it only had five employees, the source said.
The secretariat said it was handling a total of 45 lawsuits as of March 1, of which 29 had been filed by over 10,000 plaintiffs nationwide including evacuees and victims of the Fukushima accident who are seeking damages from the state.
Among those 29 lawsuits, four of the five district courts that have already handed down rulings ordered the state to pay damages to the plaintiffs, rejecting the state’s claim that the accident “could not be foreseen.”
A lawyer representing the plaintiffs has criticized the expansion move, saying the state should not insist on fighting the lawsuits.
Izutaro Managi, a member of a lawyers’ group representing some 3,800 evacuees and accident victims in a lawsuit seeking damages from the state and the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said, “The aim of the authority’s secretariat is to strengthen the state’s claim that it is not liable for causing the accident.”
“The state should rather reflect on the accident and accept its responsibility,” he said.
In addition to lawsuits related to the Fukushima evacuees and victims, the secretariat is also handling lawsuits filed by residents seeking to halt operations at nuclear plants or the construction of new ones.
New lawsuits could also be filed in the future as more nuclear power plants clear safety assessments by the authority to resume operations. Currently, 14 reactors at seven nuclear power plants have passed screenings under stricter regulations imposed after the Fukushima crisis.
Source: Japan Times
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