Green, Government, Energy - Residents Win Fukushima Payout
A Japanese court has ruled against the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) in the largest case yet over the 2011 triple melt-through at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The awards in Japanese lawsuits tend to be on the light side, so prepare to be underwhelmed. The ruling by the Fukushima district court specifies that 500 Million Yen be paid to 3,800 plaintiffs. At the current exchange rate, that's AU$5.7 Million split 3,800 ways.. AU$1,500 per plaintiff, which doesn't go a very long way in Japan.
But it's the largest ruling of its kind, and there are about 30 more class-action lawsuits filed by 12,000 Fukushima residents scattered across Japan who say their lives were adversely affected by the triple meltdown and its aftermath. TEPCO has been ordered to pay damages in all three court rulings to date.
The cases hinged on whether the government and TEPCO have foreseen the disaster, in which Japan's largest earthquake created a giant tsunami that swamped the plant, knocked out cooling systems and safety back-ups. Without those cooling systems, the cores in three nuclear reactors overheated and melted through their containment vessels, through the floor and into the ground. Two exploded in the process.
This unleashed an unheard of level of radiation into the region, leaving much of it uninhabitable. Radiation levels in the plant are so high that humans would be instantly killed just walking into the containment room; even robots invented specifically to identify and retrieve some 600 tons of molten nuclear fuel and debris regularly conk out because the intense radiation is too great.