Four former Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives have been ordered to pay 13.32 trillion yen ($97 billion) in damages for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown as the country struggles to deal with the disaster’s repercussions, TechXplore reported.
In the first case that resulted in a verdict against TEPCO executives, presiding judge Yoshihide Asakura determined that the company’s directors at the time had failed to plan for a tsunami-related tragedy adequately.
The court case, filed by 48 TEPCO shareholders, alleged that the three reactor meltdowns could have been avoided if flood prevention measures had been implemented in the plant’s major buildings and crucial equipment rooms.
According to the Japan Times, the $97 billion judgment is the biggest ever granted by a court in a civil lawsuit.
The initial complaint was launched against five former TEPCO officials, including former chair Tsunehisa Katsumata and former president Masataka Shimizu, and concentrated on whether senior TEPCO management might have anticipated a catastrophic nuclear catastrophe at the station following a powerful tsunami.
Akio Komori, a former managing executive officer and director of the Fukushima plant, was ruled not responsible in the civil claim by the court.
The claimants accused TEPCO officials of neglecting recommendations to strengthen tsunami protective systems, and they first wanted 22 trillion yen ($158 billion) in compensation to entirely demolish the facility. The claimants demanded 8 trillion yen to totally decommission the plant, another 6 trillion to decontaminate the site and construct interim nuclear waste storage, and an additional 8 trillion for victim compensation.
However, the executives stated that the data supplied to them in a long-term government evaluation of potential tsunami damage published in 2002 was unreliable and that they could not have predicted the enormous tsunami that produced the disaster.
Even if the defendants could forecast the damage, they claimed they didn’t have time to take the necessary safeguards.
Finally, the judge found in favor of the prosecution, stating that the company’s tsunami response “fundamentally lacked safety awareness and a sense of responsibility.” According to sources, the defendants will be asked to pay as much as their assets allow.