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GE sued for Fukushima disaster

Lawsuit alleges unsafe design, cost cutting

Brian Dowling Saturday, November 18, 2017

Japanese property owners and businesses near the Fukushima nuclear plant that melted down after a devastating 2011 tsunami filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit against General Electric for negligently designing the doomed plant.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in Boston, claims the explosions and release of radioactive material at the Fukushima reactors — likely the most costly industrial accident in history at $200 billion — were caused by GE’s unsafe design of the reactors and further efforts to cut costs that also undercut safety during the construction of the plant.

As a result, the area around Fukushima, according to the lawsuit, became a “ghost town.”

“There are no people. Roads are guarded by men in hazmat suits. And no one will ever live there again,” the lawsuit said.

GE said in a statement it became aware of the lawsuit today and is “thoroughly reviewing the matter.”

The company pushed into the nuclear industry in the 1960s and offered a “cheap reactor … with a significantly smaller, but less safe containment than industry standard” that safety experts repeatedly raised concerns about, the lawsuit said.

GE designed all six reactors at Fukushima — building two on site and advising on the construction of the rest. Original designs for the power plant called for it to be built near a bluff 115 feet above sea level. But GE — to save money — lowered the bluff to 80 feet, court papers say, “dramatically increasing the flood risk.”

Backup systems in the event of a problem at the nuclear plant were also woefully lacking, causing the cooling system to fail, the suit states.

All this was done in an earthquake-prone region, the Japanese residents and business owners say. Fukushima was built on a 13-foot bluff with a plan to handle 101⁄2-foot waves, the lawsuit said.

The March 2011 earthquake that crippled the power plant unleashed a 45-foot tsunami.

The lawsuit follows the conclusion of two others this year in Japan against the power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government, resulting in payouts of $335,000 and $4.4 million for residents who were forced from their homes.

November 19, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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