Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown

Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown

Mar 29th, 2017

A Japanese court has ruled that Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown.

Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown

IAEA Imagebank/David Osborn

So, this time it is not a negligence related to a landslide, a dam breach or a flood. It is negligence related to a major nuclear accident (Factual and Foreseeable Reliability of Tailings Dams and Nuclear Reactors -a Societal Acceptability Perspective) to be in the center of a lawsuit. As far as we know it is a first in the world.

Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown.

The plaintiffs, a group of 137 evacuees, claimed the government and TEPCO could have predicted a tsunami of large magnitude would one day hit the plant.

Government officially claimed that the size and destructive power of the quake and tsunami were impossible to foresee. Thus they based their defense on the unforeseeability of the event.

The ruling basically agreed with the plaintiffs. Thus the court considered the government should have used regulatory powers to force nuclear plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) to take preventative measures.  The court considered TEPCO  also liable. The court awarded significant damages to 137 evacuees.

Because of the ruling, the court holds the Japanese government liable. Indeed Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown. TEPCO, which faces a ¥21.5tn bill for decommissioning the plant and compensating evacuees, said it would respond after studying the ruling.

The ruling is the first of 30 lawsuits by Fukushima evacuees.

The claim basis

The plaintiffs based their claim on a 2002 report. Government experts estimated then there was a 20% (!!) chance of a magnitude – 8 earthquake occurring. That quake would trigger a powerful tsunami within the next 30 years.

The plaintiffs, who are now living in various locations in Japan, sought larger compensation than the one allowed by the court for emotional distress. They argued  significant damages to their livelihoods in the six years since the disaster.
Tens of thousands of people are still living in limbo. Many say they will never be able to return home. A small number have moved back to communities where the government has lifted evacuation orders.

Independent parliamentary investigation

Japan’s nuclear regulator has been severely criticized for its collusive ties with the nuclear industry. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster a new watchdog has arisen to impose stricter criteria for the restart of nuclear reactors.

An independent parliamentary investigation described (2012) the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown as a “man-made” disaster. One caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, TEPCO and the industry’s then watchdog, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. TEPCO and the agency reportedly failed to take adequate safety measures. That despite evidence that the region was susceptible to powerful earthquakes and tsunamis. This went to the point that “the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed ( Ethics and transparent risk communication start with proper risk assessment methodologies) the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made’”. Thus Negligence by the state contributed to the triple Fukushima 2011 meltdown.

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Category: Consequences, Hazard, Probabilities, Risk analysis, Risk management, Tolerance/Acceptability

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