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Namie residents sue TEPCO

September 30, 2015

117 Fukushima town residents sue TEPCO, gov't over nuclear disaster



KORIYAMA, Fukushima -- Over 100 residents of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, have jointly sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled nuclear plant, and the central government.

The 117 individuals from 32 households in the Tsushima district of the town, designated by the government as a zone where residents will likely be unable to return in the foreseeable future, filed their suit with the Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Court on Sept. 29. They are demanding that their hometown be restored to its original state through decontamination work and that the defendants pay them a total of some 6.5 billion yen in damages.

This is the first class action by residents of an area designated a "difficult-to-return zone" because of the nuclear disaster, according to the attorneys for the plaintiffs.

In their suit, the plaintiffs are demanding that the whole Tsushima district be decontaminated to reduce radiation levels to 1 millisievert per year -- internationally regarded as the upper limit on exposure to radiation, excluding that which exists in nature and the amount that people are exposed to in medical treatments and checkups -- by March 2020. The residents are also demanding 30 million yen each in compensation if the defendants fail to meet the deadline for decontamination, citing the difficulty of rebuilding the community if the time limit is not met.

They are also asking that the compensation they are receiving for mental anguish be increased from the current 100,000 yen each a month to 350,000 yen. Moreover, they are calling for an additional 3 million yen each in damages for what they say was unnecessary exposure to radiation due to the defendants' failure to release their predictions on the spread of radioactive substances shortly after the onset of the nuclear crisis.

About an additional 480 residents from some 170 households in the district are expected to join the 117 plaintiffs in the lawsuit.


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