Disasters & Accidents

Japanese court orders govt to compensate Fukushima victims

Tokyo, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- A Japanese court on Wednesday ordered the Government of Japan and the operating company of the Fukushima nuclear power plant to compensate a group of people affected by the 2011 accident, in a new ruling that establishes the responsibility of both parties in the catastrophe.

The resolution issued by the Sendai (East) High Court is the first decision by an authority of that level that recognizes state responsibility in the accident triggered by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, although it is in line with various lower court rulings.

In its decision made public Wednesday, the court ordered the State and the Tokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO) to pay 1,000 million yen (8.08 million euros) in damages to some 3,500 residents of the area who were seen to leave their homes because of the nuclear catastrophe.

The judges concluded that the Government “was capable of recognizing the risk of a large-scale tsunami occurring before the incident” and therefore should have taken preventive measures, according to the text of the sentence, collected by the state chain NHK.

This decision has been taken in the second instance after the appeals presented by the Japanese Executive and by TEPCO as a result of a judgment of a local court of 2017, and could be ultimately appealed before the Supreme Court of Japan.

The 2017 ruling indicated that both the Government and TEPCO were handling a report prepared years before the catastrophe that warned of the risks derived from a high intensity earthquake and a tsunami of about 16 meters in height, and that it indicated possible countermeasures.

During its allegations before the Sendai Superior Court, the State once again argued that it was impossible to foresee a tsunami of such magnitude – the tsunami that hit the plant reached 13 meters – and avoid the nuclear disaster, while TEPCO stressed that they had already paid compensation to those affected.

The earthquake and tsunami triggered partial meltdowns in three of the four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which ended up spreading radioactive contamination over a wide area around the plant and forcing more than 100,000 people to evacuate.

This atomic accident is considered the worst in history after Chernobyl (Ukraine) in 1986, and its consequences still keep 55,000 people unable to return to their homes.

The Wednesday order by the Sendai court is aimed at compensating residents of the area for the psychological damages resulting from the accident.

These compensations will be added to others paid by the Government to displaced persons for their compulsory evacuation, and which are included in the enormous cost faced by the public coffers for the dismantling of the plant and other related expenses, estimated at about 20 billion yen ($189 million.) EFE-EPA

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