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.
The 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.
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.
Fukushima: Landmark Lawsuit filed against General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi | nsnbc international