Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operator TEPCO has been hit with another order by a Japanese court to compensate residents who were affected by the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the plant.
A district court in Tokyo told Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) it must pay a total of ¥1.1 billion yen to residents of Odaka, a district of Fukushima lying 18 km from the stricken plant.
Each of the 318 plaintiffs will receive ¥11.8 million (roughly US$110,000) — one-tenth of the amount they had originally sought from the utility — for financial and psychological hardships they claimed to have suffered from the disaster at the plant, which suffered multiple reactor meltdowns and explosions, causing widespread radioactive contamination.
Around 160,000 residents living in districts near the plant were evacuated in the days and weeks following the nuclear accident, which was triggered by deadly earthquakes and tsunami.
Osaka is one of the districts that has been been decontaminated and declared by the government as being once more habitable, though only a few dozen have decided to return due to financial and health concerns, according to one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.
"Especially those with small children are worried... while elderly people are unable to come back without any supporting family," Osamu Oki told AFP.
So far around 12,000 evacuees have filed numerous lawsuits against TEPCO and the Japanese government.
In the US, meanwhile, TEPCO and rector manufacturer General Electric are being sued by hundreds of US sailors who took part in relief operations following the disasters and have since fallen sick, allegedly due to radiation exposure.
Up to 21,000 people lost their lives following the March 2011 disasters in Japan’s northeast.
In other news lethal levels of radiation has been reported by TEPCO at the Fukushima plant almost seven years after the disasters. is ongoing and is estimated to take a total of 40 years.
The utility announced it had detected 8 Sieverts (Sv) per hour of radiation at one of the three containment vessels that were badly damaged during the disasters.
According to experts such a level is highly dangerous — one hour’s exposure to that amount could be fatal. However, it is to be expected and unlikely to pose a threat if nobody goes near it.
TEPCO along with a variety of other private and public entities are currently developing technology to prevent human involvement with the eventual removal of nuclear debris that remains in the plant’s stricken reactors, which could take another 10-15 years to materialise.
SOURCE: AFP, NHK, Tokyo Shimbun