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Tokyo High Court rules state not liable in 2011 nuclear accident

The Tokyo High Court finds the state not liable for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. A legal team member for the plaintiffs holds up a sign stating, “It is an unjust ruling,” in Tokyo on Jan. 21.

January 22, 2021

The Tokyo High Court has ruled the government should not be held responsible for the 2011 Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant accident and be forced to pay compensation to evacuees.

Residents who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture due to the accident claimed damages against the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). But according to the Jan. 21 appellate ruling, the court found the state was not liable and ordered only TEPCO to pay compensation.

That followed a lower court ruling by the Maebashi District Court that found both parties liable.

The Tokyo High Court also raised the total compensation from about 40 million yen ($386,160) for 62 plaintiffs in the lower court ruling to about 120 million yen for 90 plaintiffs.

But the plaintiffs’ lawyers criticized the ruling afterward, contending the court was led astray by the government’s “phony” line of argumentation, and said the increase in compensation still falls far short of the “complete compensation” their clients deserve.

There are about 30 class action suits nationwide filed by evacuees and others over the triple meltdown at the nuclear power plant. Out of 14 lower court rulings, the state was held responsible in seven cases.

The higher court appellate ruling was the second such case since the Sendai High Court ruling last September. But the Sendai court held the state responsible. The rulings were divided both at the lower and higher court levels.

The main issue of contention in this latest ruling was the credibility of a long-term evaluation report, prepared by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion in 2002.

The Maebashi District Court found the evaluation to be credible in establishing liability. The report suggested the possibility that an 8.2-magintude earthquake and tsunami could occur off the coast of the Tohoku region.

But on the other hand, the Tokyo High Court did not find the evaluation to be credible at establishing liability, partly because it differed from the perspective given by a civil engineering society at the time.

“We can’t say that the occurrence of the tsunami was foreseeable based on the long-term evaluation,” the court said.

Furthermore, the higher court said, “You couldn’t have avoided the accident even if preventative measures were taken based on the long-term evaluation.” That is because there was a big difference between the size and type of the tsunami risk calculated by TEPCO based on the evaluation and the actual tsunami that hit.

The higher court concluded that the government was not acting in a significantly unreasonable manner by not invoking its regulatory authority to order TEPCO to take preventative measures.

Meanwhile, the higher court did find TEPCO responsible, and said that the “plaintiffs’ interests to lead their peaceful daily lives were infringed upon due to the accident.”

The Maebashi District Court had ordered TEPCO to pay 38.55 million yen to 62 out of 137 plaintiffs. But the higher court evaluated their areas of residence prior to the evacuation on a case-by-case basis, and therefore increased the overall amount to about 120 million yen for 90 plaintiffs, with payments to individuals ranging from 70,000 yen to 14.94 million yen.

After the higher court ruling, the legal team for the plaintiffs issued a statement disapproving of the logic behind the ruling.

“The court was tricked by the government’s phony argument and put more importance on the civil engineering evaluation–which was nothing but the standard within the industry–than the long-term evaluation.”

“The ruling was the exact opposite of the Sendai High Court decision,” Izutaro Managi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said at a news conference. “The reason why the court did not admit the foreseeability (of the tsunami) is the worst of all the rulings so far.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14127780

January 25, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

High court denies government responsibility for Fukushima nuclear crisis

Decommissioning work is under way at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

January 21, 2021

The Tokyo High Court on Thursday ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to pay damages to evacuated residents, but it overturned an earlier ruling by Maebashi District Court that had also acknowledged the central government’s responsibility over the 2011 nuclear crisis.

Among around 30 such lawsuits across the country, the decision of the Tokyo High Court was the first high court ruling absolving the state of responsibility, contradicting an earlier decision of the Sendai High Court in September that ordered both the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay damages.

The government’s failure to instruct Tepco to take measures against tsunamis “is not found to be significantly unreasonable,” Presiding Judge Akira Adachi said in handing down the ruling.

The lawsuit focused on the reliability of an official long-term quake assessment made in 2002, which has been used in previous rulings to determine the liability of the state and Tepco for their failure to prevent the nuclear disaster.

Adachi noted the assessment had caused a debate since its release, and that the government was unable to predict a huge tsunami.

Implementing measures such as constructing seawalls would not have prevented the tide from entering the nuclear plant, he added.

Thursday’s ruling instead ordered Tepco to pay a total ¥119.72 million to 90 plaintiffs, more than triple the amount awarded in the lower court ruling.

In March 2017, the Maebashi District Court awarded a total of ¥38.55 million to 62 plaintiffs who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, including those who voluntarily left, acknowledging the government and the utility were negligent in preparing for a tsunami like the one that struck the facility.

The district court said the disaster was caused by a failure to cool nuclear fuel as water entered turbine buildings through air supply openings in the wake of the tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake, crippling emergency switchboards.

The lawsuit was filed by a total of 137 plaintiffs relocated to Gunma Prefecture and elsewhere. They sought a combined ¥1.5 billion — ¥11 million each — in damages for emotional distress.

They were forced to leave their hometowns as three reactors suffered meltdowns at the plant after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

The plaintiffs said they had lost their livelihoods and faced inconvenience for an extensive period, and the amount they received under the current state compensation guidelines was not enough.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/01/21/national/crime-legal/government-denies-fukushima-responsibility/

January 25, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima compensation guidelines need further revision

hgjlklmùThe difficult-to-return-zone around Ono Station on the JR Joban Line in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture is empty on March 1. A part of evacuation order was lifted on March 5, but most of the area remains eerily the same as when the nuclear disaster happened in 2011.

 

March 19, 2020

The Sendai and Tokyo high courts recently said in separate rulings that Tokyo Electric Power Co. should pay more in compensation to victims of the 2011 accident at the company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Some 30 class action lawsuits have been filed by people who were forced to evacuate from their homes in the wake of the nuclear disaster to seek damages beyond the amounts the electric utility has agreed to pay. 

The fact that the two rulings, the first high court decisions concerning these cases, both questioned the adequacy of the existing Fukushima compensation program is highly significant in its legal and policy implications.

During the trials, the plaintiffs argued that it is difficult to return to their homes even if the evacuation orders are lifted. Even if they return, they claimed, they will face local towns and communities that have been radically altered by the accident.

The two high courts acknowledged the seriousness of the corrosive effects of what these victims call “the loss and transformation” of their hometowns and ruled that they deserve to be compensated for this problem in addition to damages for being forced to flee their homes and the mental anguish caused by their lives as evacuees.

The courts awarded the plaintiffs additional damages beyond the amounts the company has already paid.

The utility has adamantly refused to pay any blanket compensation to victims beyond the amounts based on the guidelines set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, a panel established within the government to settle disputes over compensation for victims of the Fukushima disaster.

TEPCO has also rejected deals to settle these class action suits proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center, a body created to help resolve such disputes through simplified procedures.

The company has even turned down a compromise recommendation issued by the Fukushima District Court based on arguments during a trial over a compensation dispute it had heard.

Clearly, the company fears that accepting such a deal would affect the entirety of its compensation talks and cause the total of damages it has to pay to soar.

After the devastating accident, however, TEPCO made “three vows.” It pledged to pay compensation to all victims without leaving a single one uncompensated, ensure that compensation will be paid quickly according to individual circumstances and respect proposals to settle disputes.

As the company that is responsible for the unprecedented nuclear accident, TEPCO has a duty to make sincere responses to the high court rulings in line with its own vows.

The government, which has promoted nuclear power generation as a national policy and is effectively the largest shareholder of the utility, has the responsibility to provide strict guidance for the company’s actions concerning the matter.

The two rulings have also brought to the fore some shortcomings of the guidelines set by the dispute reconciliation committee.

Established immediately after the accident, the guidelines are obviously out of tune with the complicated realities of the accident’s aftermath despite several revisions that have been made.

The “loss and transformation” of hometowns is a consequence of the accident that has become clearly visible over the nine years that have passed since that day in 2011.

It is time for the government to have some in-depth debate on the effects of this problem on affected people and embark on a sweeping review of the guidelines.

The high court rulings are not totally acceptable, however. Arguing that the money TEPCO has already paid covers part of the additional damages owed to the victims, the rulings only awarded the plaintiffs 1 million yen to 2.5 million yen ($23,000) per head in additional compensation.

Many victims have criticized the amounts for being “too small to be fitting compensation for the actual damage” suffered by the victims.

There is no easy solution to this complicated problem. But that does not justify inaction in the face of such gross injustice.

All the parties concerned need to offer ideas and ingenuity to spare the victims the need to spend any more effort and time with regard to compensation issues.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13227560

 

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo High Court slashes damages to Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees

n-fukushimaruling-a-20200319-870x637Isao Enei (left), head of a group of plaintiffs seeking damages for evacuating after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident, speaks at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo alongside their attorney Junichiro Hironaka.

 

March18, 2020

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday ordered ¥1 million in additional damages be paid each to some 300 evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, down by two-thirds from the amount awarded by a lower court ruling.

The total amount of additional compensation Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. must pay was reduced to about ¥360 million from the ¥1.1 billion awarded by the Tokyo District Court in 2018.

The nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tepco, after it was affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In their petition, the plaintiffs, including former residents of the Odaka district in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, sought additional damages of ¥10.9 billion in total.

The ruling was the second by a high court on a collective damages lawsuit filed by those displaced by the nuclear accident, following one issued by Sendai High Court last week.

On Tuesday, presiding Judge Wataru Murata said Tepco must pay additional damages on top of the ¥8.5 million it paid per person based on estimates calculated under government-set interim standards.

The additional damages have to be paid to compensate for the loss of hometowns, as “the foundations of residents’ lives have changed greatly and have yet to be restored,” Murata said.

But the amount of the additional damages should be reduced because individual circumstances of the evacuees should not be taken into account, Murata said, denying the need for such consideration as had been recognized by the lower court.

The reduction is unavoidable, also considering that returning to hometowns is possible,” the judge concluded.

Plaintiff Isao Enei criticized the latest ruling at a news conference, saying that actual circumstances in areas hit by the nuclear disaster were completely ignored.

There is no point in filing a collective suit if individual damages are ignored. The ruling is inconceivable,” said Junichiro Hironaka, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/18/national/crime-legal/tokyo-high-court-slashes-damages-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuees/#.XnNDrXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Sendai High Court orders Tepco to pay more to Fukushima evacuees

n-tepco-a-20200314-870x567Plaintiffs and lawyers who filed a lawsuit seeking damages for having to evacuate after meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold up banners Thursday in front of the Sendai High Court.

March13, 2020

SENDAI – A high court on Thursday ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to pay ¥730 million in damages to evacuees from the 2011 tsunami-triggered meltdown, up ¥120 million from a lower court ruling.

In their appeal at the Sendai High Court, 216 plaintiffs, most of whom are evacuees from areas within 30 kilometers of the plant, maintained their claim for a total of ¥1.88 billion in compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The latest ruling is the first to be handed down by a high court among 30 similar lawsuits filed nationwide by evacuees and victims seeking damages, either from the power company alone or both the utility and the state.

Tepco knew around April 2008 that there was the possibility of a tsunami that could be high enough to reach the site of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and might cause the failure of the safety functions intended to halt the nuclear reactor,” presiding Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said when handing down the ruling.

The accident occurred while countermeasure construction had been postponed. From the victims’ point of view, this is the thing that Tepco should have the greatest amount of regret over,” he said. “Tepco’s lack of proper preparation is extremely regrettable and should be an important factor in calculating the amount of compensation.”

Also taking into account pain caused to the plaintiffs by the loss of their neighborhoods and hardships during evacuation, the court ordered additional compensation of ¥1 million each for evacuees mostly from areas once designated as restricted residence zones and ¥500,000 for those from former emergency evacuation preparation zones.

In the previous ruling at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court in March 2018, 213 out of 216 plaintiffs were awarded compensation of between ¥700,000 and ¥1.5 million per person, depending on where the victims were living.

Both the utility and the plaintiffs had appealed to the high court.

It is a fair ruling,” said Tokuo Hayakawa, who leads the plaintiffs. “We cannot go back to our daily lives even if the evacuation orders are lifted.”

Tepco said in a release that it was considering how to respond to the latest ruling.

The value sought in the lawsuit had been lowered by the plaintiffs from ¥13.3 billion to avoid the possibility of a prolonged trial that could have raised court costs and may have undermined the amount of money they could receive at its conclusion.

The plaintiffs argued that the operator could have foreseen the accident caused by the tsunami based on the government’s 2002 long-term assessment of major quakes, and demanded compensation for their “loss of a hometown” in addition to the amount already paid by the power company.

Tepco maintains that it could not have predicted the tsunami, and has claimed that the damages have already been paid to evacuees in accordance with government guidelines on compensation.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/13/national/crime-legal/sendai-court-ups-tepco-payouts-fukushima-evacuees/?fbclid=IwAR3fRDL1wZA1ja0AHXkBFkYkaxiLujaP30ZlQhDWb1gl3Q5FDcVl7SYk58w#.XmunEXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Gov’t, TEPCO ordered to compensate Fukushima evacuees to Hokkaido

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March 11, 2020

SAPPORO — A court ordered the government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Tuesday to pay a combined 52.9 million yen in damages to 89 people who evacuated from their hometowns to Hokkaido after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The Sapporo District Court ruling marked the seventh case where both the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc were ordered to pay damages, out of 11 cases brought against the two parties. In the four other cases, only TEPCO was ordered to pay damages.

It was also the 15th decision handed down among around 30 similar damages suits filed across Japan over one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

A total of 257 plaintiffs, 90 percent of whom at the time were living in Fukushima city and other locations outside of areas given evacuation orders, had sought a combined 4.24 billion yen from the utility and the state.

“While (the ruling) is a sign of recognition of the government’s responsibility, it doesn’t reflect the actual lives that those who evacuated to Hokkaido have led,” a lawyer representing the plaintiffs told reporters after the court decision.

Following the ruling, TEPCO offered a “heartfelt apology for causing great trouble and worries” to those affected in Fukushima and other areas and said it will consider how to respond to the court decision after closely examining it.

At the court, the operator had said it had already paid damages to some of the plaintiffs and that the amount was adequate as it was based on the government guidelines. The utility also said it was not obligated to compensate the others as they had voluntarily evacuated.

The government has denied responsibility for the disaster, saying it could not have foreseen the flooding of the nuclear plant due to a tsunami.

The plaintiffs argued that TEPCO neglected to take preventive measures although it could have predicted earthquake and tsunami risks at the plant, and that the government did not enforce adequate safety measures despite approving power generation at the complex.

They also said that the psychological distress they suffered due to fears that radiation exposure had damaged their health, among other concerns, had impacted their ability to lead a normal life following the evacuation.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/gov%27t-tepco-ordered-to-compensate-fukushima-evacuees-to-hokkaido

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | 1 Comment

TEPCO ordered to cough up after it refused deal on compensation

Earlier in February, a Japanese judge ordered TEPCO to pay over 50 plaintiffs: “Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster.”

ggjlmùPlaintiffs and supporters at a news conference in Fukushima after the court ruling on Feb. 19

February 20, 2020

FUKUSHIMA–The district court here sided with local residents seeking compensation for psychological damage resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster after the operator of the stricken facility snubbed mediation efforts for a settlement.

The court on Feb. 19 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 12.03 million yen ($108,000) to 50 of the 52 plaintiffs. 

The plaintiffs had sought 99 million yen in damages for their psychological suffering due to their voluntary evacuation after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and fear of being exposed to high levels of radiation.

In his ruling, Presiding Judge Toru Endo noted that residents who evacuated voluntarily found themselves living an uncertain and insecure existence with no future prospects.

The court acknowledged that those who didn’t evacuate were also unable to move around freely, given that they lived in fear and anxiety over the prospect of being exposed to radiation.

The court ordered TEPCO to pay between 22,000 yen and 286,000 yen to each eligible plaintiff, in addition to a uniform compensation sum of 120,000 yen per person that the utility had already paid.

The court recommended a settlement last December, the first of its kind among 30 or so class action lawsuits filed around the country over the nuclear accident, but TEPCO refused to comply.

Residents living in designated voluntary evacuation zones in Fukushima city and other areas more than 30 kilometers from the nuclear power plant filed the lawsuit in April 2016, seeking higher compensation than the figure stipulated in the government’s guidelines.

The plaintiffs had sought to settle the lawsuit quickly in light of their mental exhaustion and advanced age rather than engage in a drawn-out process.

In a statement, TEPCO said it will consider how to respond to the ruling after thoroughly examining it.

‘REFUSING SETTLEMENT OUTRAGEOUS’

After the ruling, Yoshitaro Nomura, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, condemned the stance that TEPCO took on the matter.

Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster,” Nomura said.

Groups of disaster victims resorted to a system called alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, in the hope of winning compensation for the nuclear accident. But many of them started facing an impasse in the process two years ago after TEPCO refused to accept deals proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center.

The issue was taken up in the Diet, and the industry minister warned the utility to be more cooperative. However, the number of ADR cases that went nowhere continues to rise.

TEPCO refused to change course even after the district court recommended a settlement in a trial where the plaintiffs and the defendant are required to provide more solid arguments and proof.

The court-ordered compensation of 12.03 million yen comes to almost the same amount as the court proposed in the settlement last December. The government guidelines set individual compensation at 120,000 yen.

TEPCO has made it clear it intends to make no compromise on settlement offers that may lead to a revision of the government’s guidelines,” said lawyer Izutaro Manaki, a member of the Daini Tokyo Bar Association who is well-versed in compensation issues.

As of Feb. 14, TEPCO had paid more than 9.32 trillion yen in compensation. The company has covered the costs through government loans and higher electricity rates.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13144481

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Shikoku Electric not to appeal injunction over Ikata nuclear plant

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A banner reading “victory” is shown in front of the Hiroshima High Court on Jan. 17, 2020.
 
January 27, 2020
Matsuyama – Japan Shikoku Electric Power Co. said Monday it will not appeal a high court injunction banning the operation of the trouble-hit No.3 reactor of the Ikata nuclear power plant in western Japan for the time being.
“It is not the right time to appeal the injunction,” Shikoku Electric President Keisuke Nagai told Ehime Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura, head of the local government hosting the plant, as he apologized for a series of problems including temporary loss of power at the plant on Saturday.
However, in a meeting with Nakamura in Matsuyama, Nagai said the company still sees some problems in the decision handed down by the Hiroshima High Court on Jan. 17.
The court ordered the utility to suspend operation of the reactor in the town of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, determining the operator’s and the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s rules and risk assessment for a possible disastrous eruption of Mt. Aso, about 130 kilometers away, are inadequate.
The No. 3 unit, currently not in operation due to a regular checkup, restarted operations in 2018 under stricter safety regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis led to a nationwide halt of nuclear power plants.
The injunction dealt a blow to the Japanese government’s bid to bring more reactors back online.
On Saturday afternoon, the nuclear plant was hit by a blackout while a periodic inspection of the No.3 unit was under way.
Power was restored in about 10 seconds as an emergency diesel generator and others were activated, but Shikoku Electric revealed “almost all power sources were temporarily lost.”
That was not the only recent problem at the nuclear power station.
On Jan. 12, a control rod was mistakenly removed from the reactor and remained outside for about seven hours during maintenance work including the country’s first removal of spent mixed-oxide fuel.
The rod, which controls the fission rate of the nuclear fuel, was accidentally lifted out of the containment vessel when the upper part of the apparatus that holds fuel assemblies in place was lifted by crane.
On Jan. 20, a signal indicating a fall in nuclear fuel in a spent fuel pool was emitted.
Shikoku Electric said Saturday it has suspended regular checkups of the reactor, under way since Dec. 26, in the wake of the series of the problems.

February 1, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Hiroshima High Courtorder Ikata nuclear reactor to be halted

n-ikata-a-20200118-870x573A group of people supporting residents opposed to running the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant applaud Friday outside the Hiroshima High Court after Shikoku Electric Co. was ordered to suspend the unit.

Shikoku Electric again ordered to halt Ikata nuclear reactor over volcano risk

Jan 17, 2020

The Hiroshima High Court on Friday revoked a lower court decision and ordered Shikoku Electric Power Co. to suspend its only operable nuclear reactor in Ehime Prefecture because its preparations for a potential eruption of Mount Aso are inadequate.

The utility has previously claimed the reactor is safe to run because it would have enough advance warning of an eruption to take safety measures.

The high court also said the Nuclear Regulatory Agency’s regulations were unreasonable.

The ruling marks the second time the high court has ordered a halt of the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant.

The reactor had been shut for regular maintenance work since late December and was likely to restart within a couple of months, but now must remain idled pending an appeal. Shares in the company, which didn’t disclose the court’s reason for issuing the order, plunged on the news, ending the day down 6 percent at ¥957.

The move is the latest in a series of setbacks for an industry still struggling to recover from the Fukushima nuclear disaster nearly nine years ago, with less than a fifth of the nation’s reactors having received approval to operate.

Residents near reactors have been filing numerous lawsuits against nuclear power operations in recent years, leading to some temporary closures. Utilities have generally been successful in getting rulings against them overturned on appeal.

In a statement, Shikoku Electric said the decision by the Hiroshima High Court is “extremely regrettable” and pledged to “promptly file an appeal so that the order can be revoked as soon as possible.”

In making its decision, the court considered whether the operator and the NRA’s regulations and risk estimates for a potential eruption at the caldera of Mount Aso, about 130 km away, were adequate.

Last March, three residents of nearby Yamaguchi Prefecture who had lost a case against the Ikata reactor in the Yamaguchi District Court were appealing the decision made by the Iwakuni branch. The lower court ruled the Ikata plant could continue operating because the probability of a big eruption occurring during the reactor’s life span was low, and the NRA’s safety standards were adequate.

The reactor is currently idled for scheduled inspections and the removal of spent mixed-oxide fuel was completed on Wednesday. It is expected to be restarted on April 27.

A previous order forcing a halt in operations was issued by the Hiroshima High Court in December 2017, citing the risk of Mount Aso erupting. The same court then overturned the decision in September 2018 on appeal, and Shikoku Electric restarted the reactor a month later.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/17/national/shikoku-halt-ikata-reactor-volcano-risk/?fbclid=IwAR3WLt50R097oHK1rQ4ivgKp5juFONfBxaIbvZKR0PTDU1f6nkj7i_K_qEE#.XiHvCiNCeUm

hjhlmùùThe plant lies near an active faultline, the court ruled.

Japan court halts nuclear reactor restart citing volcano, earthquake risks

17 Jan 2020

TOKYO: A Japanese nuclear reactor near a fault line must remain shut because of the risk of its being struck by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, a high court ordered on Friday (Jan 17).

All nuclear power stations were shut down after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident following a catastrophic tsunami, and many remain closed.

The Japanese public has turned against atomic power, despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisting the nation needs nuclear plants to power the world’s third-largest economy, and the court decision was a boost for the country’s anti-nuclear movement.

The move by the Hiroshima High Court reversed a lower court decision in March that would have allowed the reactor at the Ikata nuclear plant in western Japan to resume operations.

The plant’s operator, Shikoku Electric Power, wanted to resume work at the reactor, which had been halted for routine inspections, and said it will appeal the high court’s ruling.

The case was originally lodged by residents of a neighbouring region who complained the utility failed to properly evaluate the risks posed by a local volcano and seismic faultlines.

High court presiding judge Kazutake Mori revoked the lower court ruling that paved the way for the reactor to come online.

Mori said there was an active fault line near the plant and safety assessments had been insufficient, national broadcaster NHK said.

He also argued it was not logical to assume that volcanic eruptions can be predicted far in advance, as assumed under the national standards for operating nuclear reactors, according to NHK.

“There is a fault line within 2km from the nuclear plant but Shikoku Electric has not conducted thorough surveys, and the way the Nuclear Regulation Authority reached its assessment that there was no problem contained errors and inadequacies,” the judge said, according to NHK.

Shikoku Electric criticised the ruling and stressed the scientific merit of the firm’s argument that it was safe to operate the reactor.

“After closely examining the decision, we will file a petition of objection so that the injunction will be cancelled as soon as possible,” the utility said in a statement.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/japan-court-halts-ikata-nuclear-reactor-restart-volcano-quake-12274482

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Gov’t liability denied for nukes damages, Tepco to pay minimal damages to evacuees

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Satoshi Abe (standing), head of the plaintiffs’ legal team, speaks at a news conference following the Yamagata District Court ruling in the city of Yamagata, northern Japan, on Dec. 17. 2019.
TEPCO ordered to pay minimal damages to Fukushima evacuees; Japan gov’t liability denied
 
December 18, 2019
YAMAGATA — The Yamagata District Court on Dec. 17 ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay a total of 440,000 yen in damages to five plaintiffs who evacuated due to the March 2011 triple-meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, while also absolving the Japanese state of liability.
Not only did the ruling dismiss the plaintiffs’ damages claims against the central government, the compensation amount falls far short of the more than 8-billion-yen (about $73 million) total sought by the 734 people in 201 households who were party to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs, who evacuated from Fukushima to neighboring Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan following the nuclear disaster, have stated they will appeal.
The ruling was the 13th by a district court in similar cases filed across the country. Among those, 10 lawsuits were filed against the government and TEPCO, and the state was found liable in six of them.
Regarding the plaintiffs beyond the five granted compensation, Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara stated that “the consolation money sought does not exceed what they have already been paid by Tokyo Electric,” among other reasons for denying them damages.
The decision went on to say that “there was a limit” to what degree the tsunami that disabled the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems could have been predicted, and therefore the Japanese state was not liable to pay the nuclear disaster evacuees compensation. The court also found that though TEPCO was liable for some damages, “we cannot conclude that the company committed gross negligence. Practically speaking, it is difficult to say that the firm could have implemented rational controls (at the plant) to prevent an accident.”
The plaintiffs’ suit had demanded 11 million yen in compensation per person — the highest of any nuclear disaster evacuee civil suit in Japan save one filed with the Fukushima District Court. More than 90% of the households that were party to the Yamagata lawsuit had lived in the city of Fukushima and other parts of the northeastern prefecture not covered by mandatory evacuation orders.
“The ruling was a result that betrayed our expectations,” commented Satoshi Abe, who led the plaintiffs’ legal team. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority secretariat refrained from comment on the case, while TEPCO stated that it would “examine the content of the ruling and consider a response.”
Court denies state liability for nuke damages
December 18, 2019
YAMAGATA (Jiji Press) — The Yamagata District Court rejected Tuesday the claim that the government is liable for damages over the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Meanwhile, the court ordered TEPCO to pay a total of ¥440,000 in compensation to five plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by 734 people of 201 households who evacuated to Yamagata Prefecture after the nuclear accident.
About 90% of the plaintiffs, who sought some ¥8,074 million in total damages, are evacuees from outside areas for which a government evacuation order was issued following the triple meltdown accident at the plant, stricken by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The ruling marked the 10th of its kind for collective lawsuits against the government and TEPCO over the nuclear accident. This is the fourth time that state liability for damages has been denied.
The plaintiffs said the government and TEPCO could have predicted a tsunami that would lead to a nuclear accident on the basis of a long-term assessment to forecast the scale and probability of earthquakes. The assessment was disclosed by a government organization in 2002.
The accident could have been avoided if the government and TEPCO had set up coastal levees and made the emergency power system watertight, the plaintiffs also said.
But Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara rejected the claim of government liability for compensation. “Although there was a foreseeability [of the accident], we can’t help saying that there was a limit to it,” he said.
The court ordered TEPCO to pay some compensation under the law to compensate for nuclear-related damages.
“I wanted [the court] to understand our hardship,” said a female plaintiff who evacuated with her three children from Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled nuclear power plant
 

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Japan court finds government liable for nuclear disaster

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December 13, 2019

A Japanese court has ruled for the first time that the government bears partial responsibility for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The court was responding to a case brought by a group of evacuees who had been forced to flee their homes.

It ruled that the disaster could have been averted if government regulators had ordered plant operator Tepco to take preventive safety measures.

The government and Tepco were both ordered to compensate the evacuees.

Around 80,000 people were forced to flee their homes when three reactors failed at the plant after a tsunami that struck six years ago.

It was the world‘s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, ruled in favour of 137 evacuees seeking damages for the emotional distress of fleeing their homes.

The parties were told to pay a total 38.6m yen ($341,000, £275,000) in compensation, far below the 1.5bn yen the group had sought.

A number of legal cases have already been filed against Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power) relating to the disaster, but this is the first time a court has recognised that the government was liable for negligence.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government‘s top spokesman, declined to comment but said the ruling would have no impact on the country‘s nuclear power policies.

Anti-nuclear sentiment runs high in Japan, but the government has been resolute in restarting reactors that were closed in the aftermath of the disaster.

https://stockdailydish.com/fukushima-japan-court-finds-government-liable-for-nuclear-disaster/

December 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Shocked’ Fukushima evacuees say Tepco ruling fails to fairly compensate them for suffering

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Rice planting for commercial sales begins at a paddy in Iitate in May 2017, for the first time since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.
March 27, 2019
A Tokyo court on Wednesday ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to pay a total of ¥21.34 million in damages to a group of evacuees from the March 2011 nuclear disaster.
But the ruling by the Tokyo District Court, which was the 11th such decision against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., came as a shock to the evacuees, who claim the court has neglected their suffering.
The lawsuit was filed in March 2012 by 42 former residents of Iitate, a village in Fukushima Prefecture, who claim their lives were affected by the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant disaster in 2011. They were forced to evacuate from the prefecture due to evacuation orders that were only lifted later, in March 2017. They had sought a combined ¥1.68 billion from the utility for their psychological suffering.
Presiding Judge Tetsuro Nakayoshi awarded compensation to 13 of the 42 plaintiffs whose damages were deemed more severe. The plaintiffs in general have been already compensated by the nuclear plant operator and had already found new homes, the court concluded. Only one pair was awarded the highest amount, of more than ¥3 million in damages, due to illness and required nursing care.
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March 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t, TEPCO again ordered to pay compensation to Fukushima evacuees

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TOKYO, March 26 (Xinhua) — A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) to pay damages to 23 people who were forced to evacuate from their hometowns due to the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Matsuyama District Court handed down the ruling on Tuesday and awarded damages to 23 of the 25 plaintiffs who had evacuated from Fukushima to Ehime Prefecture in the wake of the nuclear crisis.
The plaintiffs had been seeking compensation amounting to a combined 137.5 million yen (1.24 million U.S. dollars) in damages.
The court, however, ordered the government and TEPCO to pay combined damages of just 27 million yen (244,750 U.S. dollars).
… The court’s ruling was the 10th among 30 similar suits filed across Japan against both the government and TEPCO.
Among similar cases already adjudicated, TEPCO was ordered to pay damages to plaintiffs in nine of them.
The government along with TEPCO have been found liable in five of the similar cases.
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March 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan and Tepco again ordered to pay damages to Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees

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February 20, 2019
Yokohama court orders government and TEPCO to pay $3.8m to 152 residents forced to flee homes after nuclear meltdown.
 
Presiding Judge Ken Nakadaira said the nuclear accident was preventable as the state could have foreseen as of September 2009, based on a projection by experts, that a massive tsunami similar to one that occurred in the ninth century could strike the area again and cause a complete power blackout at the plant.
 
He said it would have been “possible by the end of 2010” to implement steps such as installing emergency power generators that would have prevented damage to core reactors as well as hydrogen explosions that led to the release of massive amounts of radioactive materials outside the plant.
Nakadaira also criticized the state for its assessment before the disaster that Tepco’s anti-tsunami measures were adequate, saying it was a serious “mistake and failure.”
 
The ruling awarded compensation to 152 of the 175 plaintiffs, of whom 50 had evacuated voluntarily and 125 were forced to do so. They had each demanded ¥350,000 per month and compensation of ¥20 million for psychological damage due to “the loss of their hometown” in addition to compensation already paid by Tepco.
 
The ruling was the eighth among approximately 30 similar suits filed by more than 10,000 evacuees.
 
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February 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Ikata NPP’s reactor to restart as Hiroshima court judges volcanic erution frequency to be extremely low

Ruling puts onus on anti-nuclear plaintiffs citing volcanic risks

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Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, center, explains the Hiroshima High Court’s decision on Sept. 25 to lift a temporary injunction barring operations of the Ikata nuclear plant.
September 26, 2018
HIROSHIMA–The Hiroshima High Court has significantly raised the bar for plaintiffs seeking suspensions of nuclear plant operations on grounds of a possible volcanic eruption.
In a ruling handed down on Sept. 25, the court overturned a temporary injunction order that had halted operations at the Ikata nuclear plant, saying the plaintiffs must present highly credible evidence of the risk of a catastrophic volcanic eruption.
The plaintiffs argued that Shikoku Electric Power Co. must suspend operations of its Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture because of the dangers posed by Mount Aso in central Kyushu, Japan’s southern main island.
They said a pyroclastic flow from the volcano would reach the plant about 130 kilometers away in the event of an eruption on a scale similar to one that occurred about 90,000 years ago.
But the high court dismissed their argument by referring to “socially accepted ideas.”
“The frequency of such an eruption is extremely low,” Presiding Judge Masayuki Miki said. “The government has not taken any measures to deal with it, and a large majority of the public don’t see the risks of a major eruption as a problem, either.”
He added, “Unless the court is given reasonable grounds for the possibility of a major eruption, it is a socially accepted idea that the safety of a facility will not be undermined even if measures are not in place to prepare for such a scenario.”
The ruling was based on an assessment issued in March by the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority that risks to nuclear facilities from a catastrophic volcanic eruption are within a socially acceptable range.
Kenta Tsunasaki, one of the plaintiffs, said he was appalled by the ruling.
“We are again witnessing the exact same attitude toward a massive eruption of a volcano,” he said, referring to the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that caused the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. “The judiciary must have forgotten about the Fukushima disaster.”
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, has argued that the scale of the tsunami that struck the nuclear complex could not be foreseen.
Many volcanologists agree that catastrophic eruptions rarely occur.
But Yoshiyuki Tatsumi, professor of volcanology at Kobe University, questioned the court’s dismissal of the possibility of a huge eruption.
“The low occurrence does not assure safety,” he said. “A catastrophic eruption is one of the worst disasters in terms of the degree of danger, which is calculated by multiplying the expected number of victims and the rate of occurrence.”
Tatsumi also said it is difficult to predict when Mount Aso will have a major eruption because its eruption cycle is irregular.
(This article was compiled from reports by Sotaro Hata, Toshio Kawada and Shigeko Segawa.)

 

Reactor can restart in Japan after little risk seen from volcano

Shikoku Electric plans to resume operations at the Ikata plant in October
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The No. 3 unit at the Ikata power plant in Ehime Prefecture
September 25, 2018
OSAKA — A Japanese court ruled Tuesday that a nuclear reactor operated by Shikoku Electric Power could restart, clearing the way for it to join the small handful of nuclear facilities that have resumed operating following a catastrophic earthquake in 2011. 
The Hiroshima High Court overturned Tuesday its own provisional injunction from December, accepting the utility’s claim that a volcano in the vicinity poses little risk.
Following the decision, Shikoku Electric said it will restart the No. 3 unit at its Ikata power plant in Ehime Prefecture on Oct. 27.
High courts have often overruled suspensions handed down by district courts. Examples include the Nos. 3 and 4 units at Kansai Electric Power’s Oi and Takahama plants in Fukui Prefecture. With the Hiroshima high court’s decision, all reactors that had temporary suspension orders on them are able to restart.
The chief issue in the Ikata case was whether a nearby caldera of Mt. Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is at risk of erupting.
“No proof has been shown of the possibility that a large-scale, catastrophic eruption will occur, and the likelihood that [lava flows] will reach the reactor is sufficiently low,” the court said in its ruling Tuesday.
But the restart could be stopped again by an Oita District Court decision due Friday on another provisional injunction to halt the Ikata unit.
The 890-megawatt No. 3 reactor is one of five across three plants nationwide to restart under standards introduced after the 2011 tsunami. It resumed operations in August 2016, but was halted in October 2017 for routine inspections. The shutdown has cost Shikoku Electric about 30 billion yen ($266 million), the company said.

September 27, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment