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Published On: Thu, Jan 30th, 2014

Fukushima: Landmark Lawsuit filed against General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi

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nsnbc : A landmark lawsuit has been filed against three companies that manufactured the reactors at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to hold General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi accountable for the catastrophic meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The situation at Fukushima continues deteriorating and posing the risk of catastrophic leaks in the event of an earthquake. Bio-accumulation of radioactive isotopes poses an increasing risk for higher organisms, including humans.

Fukushima_aerial-2011-3-30-0-50-45-600x292The lawyers for the 1.415 plaintiffs stated that they have filed a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court, describing the case as a landmark challenge to nuclear power plant manufacturers immunity from liability in nuclear accidents. Manufacturers and operators of nuclear power plants have been granted immunities which are unprecedented in any other industry, because no insurance company, worldwide, would agree to insure the power plants when the industry first developed.

Under Japanese law, only the Fkushima Daiichi operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) can bee held accountable for the accident. The lawyers report that the 1415 plaintiffs include 38 residents of Fukushima and 357 persons from outside Japan.

The plaintiffs allege that General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi failed to implement safety improvements to the four decades old boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and are seeking a compensation of 100 yen (1 USD) each. The plaintiffs stress that their first priority is not the economic compensation, but to raise awareness about the problem with the power plant manufacturers immunity and the dangers of nuclear energy.

Associated Press is quoting one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, Akihiro Shima, as saying that “the manufacturers have not been held accountable and that their names are not even mentioned”. The lawsuit is, according to Akihiro Shima, intended to bring attention to the system that protects the nuclear industry around the world.

The tank farm keeps growing as water decontamination equipment continues to fai.

The tank farm keeps growing as water decontamination equipment continues to fail.

Units 1, 3 and 4 at Fukushima Daiichi were built by General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi while unit 2 was built by General Electric and Hitachi. All of the units were completed and began operations during the 1970s.  Toshiba and Hitachi have declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying that they have not yet received the legal documents.

The crippled power plant continues to leak radioactive contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean and to contaminate the environment. Meanwhile, the danger of an imminent, catastrophic event, far from having been mitigated, increases by the day as TEPCO continues storing highly contaminated water in storage tanks which are likely to leak massive amounts of contaminated water in the case of a midi-sized or severe earthquake. Fukushima is located in one of the world’s most active geological areas.

A 2013 study has shown that the levels of the radioactive isotope cesium in forests in a diameter of 60 – 120 km around the power plant has almost doubled within one year, indicating a strong bio-accumulation of the pollution. The leaking water is putting considerable stress on maritime ecosystems and also here, the full bearing of the disaster may not transpire until bio-accumulation of the radioactive isotopes would eventually stress the organisms at the top of the food chain, including marine mammals and humans.

In January 2014, Japan’s Fisheries Research Agency announced that one of the samples of black sea bream specimens, caught about 37 kilometers South of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has tested 12,400 bequerels per kilogram, making it 124 times more lethal than the threshold that is considered safe for human consumption.

Adding to the protection of the nuclear industry and to popular concerns about nuclear safety is the fact that the Japanese government has passed legislation that provides for severe punishment for those who leak “unauthorized” information about the situation in Fukushima and about its effects.

Ch/L – nsnbc 30.01.2014

Read our extensive coverage of the situation pertaining Fukushima with news, analysis and opinion in nsnbc international. Your Daily Independent.

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  1. Congratulations for an initiative that is late but welcome. That it is happening in Japan the home of nuclear experience – Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima is appropriate!
    God speed to the Tokyo District court and let us build a thick concrete structure [scarphorgus] like in Chernobyl around the Fukushima four ASAP! Let the nuke happy Abe be provided NO VISAS till this project is finished!

    • Right it is late, but if the case at Tokyo District Court can create precedence, this could open a Pandora’s box, this time for the nuclear industry ad not for its victims.
      The idea about the sarcophagus at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, like it was done in Tjernoby, is not really possible. At least not yet. Let me explain:

      In Tjernobyl, the molten corium was contained inside the building’s foundation. That is why it was possible to solve the problem with closing the site from the top and down.

      In Fukushima we are talking about a situation where the corium has gone through the building’s ground floor and into the ground where it pollutes the groundwater. Closing it from the top does not solve that problem and could only make it more difficult to solve the problem with the material in the ground.. Actually, they are not even sure where some of the material is.. After that problem is solved, closing the site with a sarcophagus could be a good option. One thing at the time, and time is running out with the possibility of an earthquake rupturing some of the tanks.. Should that happen, it is possible that the site become so contaminated that nobody can work there – at all.

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