Second Court In Japan Holds Government Liable For Meltdowns

The Fukushima Disctrict Court on Tuesday held the government of Japan and the Tokyo Electric Power Company liable for the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Generating Station, holding that the government should have ordered the utility to improve safety standards before the event.

Fukushima abandonedThe court ordered $4.5 million to be paid to 3,800 evacuees, which represents the largest group of plaintiffs out of about 30 groups that are pursuing separate lawsuits on the matter. Plaintiffs are citing lose of income and other expenses based on having to flee their homes after the earthquake-triggered tsunami knocked out back up power at the plant, leading to a triple meltdown.

Courts have gone in two directions with the lawsuit. In two previously settled cases, the court in one decision found the utility and the government at fault, while the second verdict allowed that the government was not liable, although the utility was. In March, the Maebashi District Court also held the government partly liable, while in September the District Court of Chiba held that only Tepco was liable.

The settlements are also varying wildly. In March, plaintiffs were awarded $336,000 split amongst 62 former Fukusnima residents, the Associated Press reported. In September, $3.4 million was awarded to 45 former residents.

In each case, sums awarded have been far less than what plaintiffs were seeking. In Tuesday's decision, plaintiffs were also seeking to force the defendants to reduce the radiation in their homes to levels prior to the accident. The court did not agree to this stipulation, however.

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