Four former TEPCO executives were sentenced to €97 billion in damages

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A Tokyo court on Wednesday, July 13, sentenced four former officials of electricity supplier TEPCO to 13.3 trillion yen – nearly 97 billion euros – for failing to prevent the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.

Ex-Presidents of Tepco – former Tepco Board Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former Vice-Presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro – are among the convicts sentenced on Wednesday, July 13, along with another former acquitted. The company’s CEO, Masataka Shimizu. Nearly 97 billion euros in damages. This is the heavy fine that they will have to pay.

This decision is the culmination of legal action initiated by shareholders in Tepco, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, in 2012. This is the first time that former leaders of the group have taken responsibility for the catastrophe that occurred after a massive tsunami. Tepco shareholders win their case, but they likely won’t be compensated. The court sentences these directors to a fine that they will not be able to pay to their shareholders. But its stratospheric amount is proportional to their responsibility for the catastrophe, Our correspondent reports in TokyoAnd the Frederick Charles.

As they left the court, prosecutors raised banners that read: acknowledgment of responsibility ” And the ” Shareholders won The plaintiffs specified in a press release the total amount of damages ordered by the court.

To read also: Japan: 11 years after Fukushima, radioactive contamination is still very high in the region

In his decision, the judge considered that ” The sense of security and responsibility needed for a nuclear operator was fundamentally missing According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. Shareholders argued that the disaster could have been avoided if Tepco managers had responded to reports calling for precautionary measures against the tsunami, such as installing the station’s emergency power systems at a higher altitude, located on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in northeastern Japan. .

Three of the plant’s six reactors – Units 1, 2 and 3 – were operating when the tsunami, following a powerful undersea earthquake, swept through on March 11, 2011. Their cooling systems failed when the emergency generators were flooded by waves, causing the cores of all three reactors to melt. Hydrogen explosions also occurred in reactors 1, 3 and 4, causing severe damage. The decontamination and decommissioning work of the plant is expected to take several more decades.

Three leaders were acquitted in criminal proceedings in 2019

We once again express our sincerest apologies to the people of Fukushima and society in general. A TEPCO spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday about the damages and concerns caused by this disaster, refusing to comment on the court’s decision.

since the accident FukushimaTepco faces numerous legal actions, including from residents forced to evacuate the area due to radiation, sometimes in very difficult circumstances. In 2019, the lower court acquitted three former company leaders who had been tried in criminal proceedings by evacuees from the area. The civil parties resumed.

If the earthquake and especially the tsunami of March 11, 2011 killed 18,500 people in northeastern Japan, then the Fukushima nuclear disaster itself did not immediately cause any casualties. However, this nuclear disaster was indirectly responsible for several thousand “related deaths”, which the Japanese authorities admitted were deaths due to the deteriorating living conditions of many evacuees from the area. The Japanese state and TEPCO have already been convicted in civil proceedings on several occasions, after numerous complaints from the mass evacuees. But the fines remained symbolic.

The Japanese government now estimates the total cost of the nuclear accident at 173 billion euros over 40 years.

(and with France Press agency)

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