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Future effects of radiation don't count

June 27, 2013


TEPCO rejects compensation settlement for radiation anxiety





Tokyo Electric Power Co. on June 26 rejected a compensation proposal by a state arbitration body on grounds there is insufficient scientific evidence to support health anxieties by claimants about the future effects of radiation exposure, lawyers said.

The settlement was proposed by the government-affiliated nuclear damage compensation dispute resolution center at the request of 190 residents of the Nagadoro district of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture.

Nagadoro lies beyond the 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant where reactor meltdowns occurred following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The government dragged its heels in issuing an evacuation order for the district, and as a result, many residents were exposed to radioactive materials released from the plant.

The residents have sought compensation for anxiety about health from radiation exposure in the future.

The proposed settlement calls on TEPCO, the plant operator, to pay 500,000 yen ($5,010) per resident and an additional 500,000 yen to those 18 years old or under as well as pregnant women.

But the company refused to comply in a June 26 meeting with residents, lawyers told a news conference in Tokyo.

“The proposal is not compatible with scientific knowledge about radiation exposure and their effects on health,” a TEPCO official was quoted as saying. “It is difficult to admit that there was a specific violation of rights for which compensation should be paid.”

TEPCO has declined to comment on ongoing cases.

Yoshitomo Shigihara, chief of the Nagadoro district, criticized TEPCO.

“Children in the district will have to live with anxiety stemming from radiation exposure for many years to come,” Shigihara told the news conference. “Does TEPCO understand that?”

In a business plan it submitted to the government in April 2012, TEPCO said it will respect proposals by dispute settlement organizations. It has basically accepted settlement proposals by the nuclear damage compensation dispute resolution center.

According to lawyers, TEPCO indicated that it could have an impact beyond the Nagadoro case if it accepted the center’s settlement proposal.

The statement suggests that the utility may refuse to pay compensation to 110 residents of Iitate’s Warabidaira district, who have sought mediation on similar grounds.

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