Latest news on US sailors’ class-action suit against Tepco — Nuclear Hotseat, Stars & Stripes, Bloomberg, DTRA webisode

In the US sailors’ class-action lawsuit against Tokyo Electric, — Lindsay R. Cooper v Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc., 12-cv-3032. U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, — California Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that the lawsuit can proceed and include not only Tokyo Electric Power Company, but also the builders of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba and Hitachi.

Nuclear Hotseat posted the plaintiff attorneys’ press release:

” U.S. SAILORS WIN KEY COURT DECISION TO GO FORWARD WITH CLASS ACTION AGAINST JAPAN’S NUCLEAR POWER COMPANY

U.S. Navy Sailors have won a crucial battle in the United States District Court in San Diego against Tokyo Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO. A Federal judge has ruled that the sailors’ class action law suit may go forward against TEPCO and additional Defendants General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba and Hitachi, the builders of the Fukushima nuclear reactors. The 200 young sailors claim that TEPCO deliberately lied to the public and the U.S. Navy about the radiation levels at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant at the time the Japanese Government was asking for help for victims of the March 11, 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami. Up to 70,000 U.S. citizens were potentially affected by the radiation and will be able to join the class action suit.

The lawsuit is based on the sailors’ participation in Operation Tomodachi (meaning “Friends”), providing humanitarian relief after the March 11, 2011 devastation caused by the Earthquake and Tsunami. The lawsuit includes claims for illnesses such as Leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illnesses, stomach ailments and a host of other complaints unusual in such young adults. The injured servicemen and women will require treatment for their deteriorating health, medical monitoring, payment of their medical bills, appropriate health monitoring for their children, andmonitoring for possible radiation-induced genetic mutations.

One Sailor, age 22, has been diagnosed with Leukemia and is losing his eyesight. In his declaration to the court he states, “Upon my return from Operation Tomodachi, I began losing my eyesight.I lost all vision in my left eye and most vision in my right eye. I am unable to read street signs and am no longer able to drive. Prior to Operation Tomodachi, I had 20/20 eyesight, wore no glasses and had no corrective eye surgery. Additionally, I know of no family members who have had leukemia.” Paul Garner and Charles Bonner, attorneys for the sailors, say that additional plaintiffs are continuing to come forward with serious ailments from radiation.

The sailors would like the general public to contact their members of Congress, locally elected officials, and President Obama and implore them to tell the Government of Japan to (1) apply the principles of “Operation Tomodachi” to the Plaintiff-victims and help these U.S. Sailors; and (2) tell TEPCO to stop shirking responsibility for their publically acknowledged wrongdoings.
fukushimaradiationvictims.net Email: daryljbrooks@roadrunner.com ”

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Here is a map showing the position of the USS Ronald Reagan in Operation Tomodachi on March 13 in chronological relation to the stream of radiation flowing out of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Reagan_Position_Mar13

 

Next, read a Stars and Stripes article titled, “Judge: Sailors’ class-action suit can proceed over alleged radiation exposure,” published on Oct. 30, 2014.

” A U.S. federal judge has ruled that a class-action lawsuit filed by about 200 Navy sailors and Marines can proceed against Japanese utility TEPCO and other defendants who they blame for a variety of ailments from radiation exposure following a nuclear reactor meltdown 3½ years ago.

In a decision released Tuesday, Southern District of California Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that the suit can be amended to add the builders of the Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors — General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba and Hitachi — as defendants.

Sammartino also denied a change of venue to Japan and dismissed several minor aspects of the suit. The plaintiffs’ lawyers have until Nov. 18 to make changes to their filings.

“It is not over, but we have won the major battle,” lawyer Charles Bonner wrote in an email to his clients that was provided to Stars and Stripes.

“THANK GOD!!!!!” responded Lindsay Cooper, the first USS Ronald Reagan sailor to come forward and report an illness.

Sammartino’s ruling was a bit of a surprise. The Defense Department, including Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson, have concluded that the illnesses are not a result of the servicemembers’ work in Operation Tomodachi, in which a massive earthquake on March 11, 2011, spawned a tsunami that swamped the nuclear plant.

The suit was first filed in 2012 by a small group of sailors off the USS Ronald Reagan, who alleged that TEPCO’s misinformation coaxed U.S. forces closer to the affected areas and made them sick. More ailing servicemembers came forward citing exposure-related ailments such as unexplained cancers, excessive bleeding and thyroid issues.

The suit has been refiled a number of times, adding plaintiffs and, more recently, additional defendants.

TEPCO tried to have the case dismissed. Oral arguments were presented Aug. 25.

Bonner and fellow attorney for the sailors, Paul Garner, said additional plaintiffs are continuing to come forward with “serious ailments from radiation,” according to a statement released by the legal team. ”

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In addition to the above article, here is further clarification from Bloomberg in “Sailors can sue Tepco in U.S. over radiation, judge says.” Read the entire article HERE.

” … The sailors and their families claimed the company known as Tepco, Japan’s biggest power utility, was negligent in the design and operation of the Fukushima plant, according to their amended complaint filed in February. They’re seeking to create a fund exceeding $1 billion to monitor their health and pay for medical expenses, on top of unspecified damages.

Tepco had argued the U.S. military had contributed to the plaintiffs’ harm, limiting the utility’s liability.

Tepco spokesman Satoshi Togawa declined to comment on the lawsuit.

In Japan, an inquest committee has recommended that local prosecutors indict former Tepco chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and two executives over negligence claims leading to the disaster. Prosecutors in Tokyo said this month they would decide on charges by Feb. 2. … ”

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Finally, here is a self-promotional video from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency for its recommendations to the US Navy at the time of the Fukushima meltdowns.

source

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Fukushima Reactor 1 dismantling to be delayed — The Japan Times

” In the first-ever delay in the plans to dismantle reactor 1 at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government and the utility have agreed to postpone the removal of fuel rods from the spent-fuel pool by two years from the initial plans, NHK reported Thursday.

The date of extracting the melted fuel rods from the reactor core, which suffered a meltdown in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, will also be delayed by five years, the network said, without naming the source.

NHK attributed the delays to an unexpectedly time-consuming process of removal, which was to start in 2017 for fuel rods that are intact and in 2020 for melted ones.

In the ongoing plant dismantling process, removal of rubble, a necessary step to get at the spent-fuel pools, has taken longer than expected, with the plan to start full-fledged work to expose the reactor building by removing its covering delayed by half a year from the originally planned start in March. ”

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*Japan’s natural perils, and promises, in the wake of Fukushima — Nassrine Azimi via The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus

” The first paragraph in the first volume of A History of Japan, by the scholarly British diplomat Sir George Sansom, is a detailed description of the islands’ geology.

Writing in 1958 of the country he so loved, with its “mighty volcanic convulsions”, Sir George depicts the physical drama of peaks soaring two miles above and plunging five miles below sea level, and wisely cautions that “so immense a range of elevation within short lateral distances develops such stresses that this part of the earth’s crust is a highly unstable area….”

The Japan Landslide Society simply calls this archipelago the “Scar-Laden Islands.”

In August this year we witnessed at close range just how scar-laden: massive rains and landslides brought down entire mountaintops in many suburbs of Hiroshima, killing scores. The tragedy could well happen in other parts of the country.

Then on September 27th the sacred, unpredictable Mount Ontake erupted suddenly, trapping hundreds of climbers out to admire its famed autumn foliage. The eruption prompted a massive and dangerous rescue operation by thousands of firefighters, police and Self-Defense Forces members. Still, at least 60 people are reported dead.

In the aftermath of the eruption, the government promptly called for renewed efforts at monitoring volcanic activity. Yet Mount Ontake, listed as one of the country’s 110 active volcanos, was already under close scrutiny by the Meteorological Agency; intensifying tremors–85 on September 11 alone–had been registered but not deemed threatening.

In technology-overloaded Japan, monitoring hardly seems the problem.

Rather, volcanic eruptions–and other natural disasters–in a land perched on the edge of the Ring of Fire and straddling four tectonic plates should be considered the norm. And some scientists now worry that the magnitude 9 earthquake of March 11, 2011 may well intensify risks–this July a French geophysicist and his team released a study suggesting pressure is building on Mount Fuji, also an active volcano.

Last week the three prefectures at the foot of Mount Fuji conducted eruption drills, sobered by the experience of how ash from the Mount Ontake eruption had completely disrupted rescue operations. Similarly, earlier this month, the respected volcanologist Fujii Toshitsugu, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and head of a government-commissioned panel, challenged assumptions that the Sendai reactors in Kyushu, first in-line in the government’s schedule to reactivate dormant nuclear plants, were immune to volcanic eruptions. He suggested that heavy ash from the eruption of Mount Sakurajima — only 40 kilometers from the plant — could make reaching the plant and basic evacuation protocols quite impossible.

If natural disasters are simply unavoidable, then for a country smaller than the state of California and with more than three times the population, the presence of nuclear power plants seems, to say the least, a little akin to playing Russian roulette.

During recent Diet debates, Obuchi Yuko, then minister of economy, trade and industry and till two weeks ago an upcoming star of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, insisted that in its push to restart nuclear plants the government was adamant about ensuring the strictest safety measures, stating that such standards were similar to those of France and other advanced nations.

The comparison to France, often made, is hardly apt: France is not perennially threatened by massive earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions, nor is it on the path of mega typhoons (like the two which battered us just this month). In the past year, alone, Japan has had hundreds of small earthquakes, while France has had five. Japan is also two-thirds smaller than France, with almost double the population. The risk factors, when it comes to nuclear power plants, are fundamentally different.

In late September, a group of us from Hiroshima returned to Fukushima, to see for ourselves how rebuilding was progressing. Of the three prefectures which took the brunt of the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 Fukushima, with the decommissioned yet still precarious No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, is the one still gripped by deep uncertainty, even if both Miyagi and Iwate suffered greater human losses from the tsunami (by a factor of five in Miyagi): they have mourned, grieved, collected huge piles of tsunamis debris and are now pressing ahead with reconstruction plans.

Not Fukushima. Large swaths of the prefecture remain unsettled. Within the nuclear plant’s 20-kilometer exclusion zone most towns are empty. As we drove through the eerily silent streets of those closest to the battered plant, Tashiro Akira, a veteran investigative reporter who has written extensively on nuclear accidents, gave us rough estimates of their pre-disaster populations–and of their current status: Namie (22,000, now semi-restricted), Futaba (7,400, still abandoned), Okuma (11,515, still abandoned), Tomioka (15,800, still abandoned), Naraha (8200, now semi-restricted).

The quick money that had been flowing from TEPCO to these communities in the past decades does not seem to have left much in terms of quality buildings or a decent urban environment. But an abandoned city is nonetheless a mournful sight: curtains still in place, kitchen-ware glimpsed through a window, children’s bicycles parked outside empty homes.

In Minami Soma we visited the Farm Sanctuary, 14 kilometers from the beleaguered power plant, where an irreverent cattle farmer by the name of Yoshizawa Masami has chosen to defy authorities and remain with his animals. Called Kibo no Bokujyo (Ranch of Hope) in Japanese, it also offers a place for other farmers who have had to abandon their lands but do not know what to do with their contaminated animals. The Farm Sanctuary has become a sort of unofficial test site, to monitor the effects of radiation on animals.

But even more distant towns, like Iitate, remain in limbo. Some 45 kilometers from the plant, Iitate was initially designated a safe haven before it, too, was found to be a radioactive hotspot. Its 6000 inhabitants have now either left or can only come in during day-time hours. A superbly-built nursing home for the elderly now caters to the few remaining residents – average age 87 – who were simply too old to move. Room after room is empty – it is impossible to find staff willing or able to live and work in Iitate.

A farming and ranching community before the nuclear disaster, the only people we did see at work in Iitate were some of 3000 contract workers, whose job is to remove contaminated topsoil — part of the government’s complex and questionable decontamination policy. The topsoil, alongside leaves and other plant material, is then stuffed into thousands of black plastic containers, now scattered across the landscape. Naturally no region is willing to accept the dreaded material, despite pressures and monetary cajoling by the central government. The cleanup, which was meant to be completed this March, has just been extended by another two years.

As we viewed the landscape, the idea that Iitate and other cities affected by the nuclear accident could soon return to business as usual — through diligent scrubbing of roofs and removal of topsoil — seemed far-fetched indeed: like the rest of Fukushima Iitate is covered with mountains and forests, exposed to natural elements. In her thoughtful and meticulously researched article entitled ‘Touching the Grass: Science, Uncertainty and Everyday life from Chernobyl to Fukushima’[1] Tessa Morris-Suzuki points to research on the topsoil removal, which can temporarily lower radiation levels, but the effects of which are dubious as ‘radiation accumulated in leaf litter in the mountain forests is constantly washed down into farm fields by the flow of water, raising the levels of radioactivity again.’

Years (and billions of yen) could well be spent shifting topsoil, but would any young family be willing to raise kids there?

Dr. Kurokawa Kiyoshi, chairman of the Nuclear Accident Independent Investigative Committee has famously, and succinctly, quipped of the government’s cleanup effort: “Water keeps building up inside the plant, and debris keeps piling up outside of it. This is all just one big shell game aimed at pushing off the problems until the future.”[2]

Yet admitting the complexities raises fundamental problems for authorities, from the practical –i.e. compensation and relocation issues — to the deeply ethical: if one single nuclear accident is proving so debilitating, how then, in the face of deep popular opposition, to justify bringing the country’s dormant plants on-line, as the Abe government wishes to do? And if even Japan, a technology giant, is to put the nail to the coffin of its own towns in the aftermath of a nuclear accident, how to justify its planned exports to other nations?

So Fukushima’s residents linger in uncertainty. The elderly, with less to fear of radiation’s long-term effects, are resigned to return home; not those with young children. Many men, for the sake of jobs, would return but women, more concerned about their family’s health, would not. The pressure on every family is huge. The new term genpatsu rikon (atomic divorce) captures the personal tragedies.

Morris-Suzuki highlights the difficulty, heightened in the Internet age, for ordinary people to live with the kind of insidious uncertainty that has become the hallmark of environmental, and especially nuclear, pollution. As night fell, we had to leave Iitate in time for the curfew that bans people from entering the area beyond certain hours. Driving down the mountain and past one dark, abandoned house after another, I better understood how tired the citizens of Fukushima were of the flow of visiting and pontificating delegates — scientists and central authorities, singers, actors, upcoming politicians, idealistic students, well-intentioned foreigners… At the end of the day, however, we all left.

Hence a certain listlessness in Fukushima, that seems to afflict everyone and, contrary to most places, the young in particular. The welcoming and valiant senior staff at the fisheries association we visited near Iwaki City seemed reassured by their brand new machines sent to test radiation levels of incoming fish every week; the younger staff admitted readily that manning the complicated machinery was at times quite beyond their competence. In Koriyama, one of Fukushima Prefecture’s three largest cities, the senior architect I interviewed expressed hope that large-scale building plans would restart soon. His younger colleague, father of young children, sat stone-faced, looking more doubtful.

There are those who point at Hiroshima and Nagasaki as the ‘reassuring’ story, of the possibility of revival after nuclear catastrophe. This is to forget the price paid and the discriminations faced by the survivors and at least two generations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki citizens. It is also to forget the differences between 1945 and 2011: there were no hand-held Geiger counters in every household then, no Internet to spread news of contaminated soil, fish, water or hotspots. Fukushima Prefecture was a prime food producer in Japan before the accident: when or even whether it shall retrieve that label again, in a globalized world where reputations are so easily made or broken, is an open question.

Still, by now Prime Minister Abe may have little political capital to lose on account of the physically close yet psychologically distant Fukushima. But as Andrew DeWit of Tokyo’s Rikkyo University and an astute observer of Japanese energy policies has written in the Asia-Pacific Journal (http://japanfocus.org/-Andrew-DeWit/4174), the government’s reluctance to declare a stark and clear commitment to renewables (and to the eventual closure of nuclear plants), is a significant opportunity loss.

Japan, DeWit writes, is hardly the “resource-poor” country pro-nuclear politicians so love to invoke. In terms of renewables, it sits among top contenders, with abundant thermal energy sources — the bright side of being so disaster-prone. It is “blessed” with powerful winds and typhoons, waves, volcanoes, vast forests (68 percent of the land), torrential rivers and summers of scorching, ever-present sun.

Naysayers point to the challenges facing Germany, which after decades of an intense national debate, took the message of the Fukushima nuclear accident to heart and did what everyone had expected Japan to do: bring its reliance on nuclear energy to an end. Yes, Germany now struggles with its carbon emissions, but these will decline with time while the advantages — including job creation – of Germany’s shift to green energy are already starting to outweigh the minuses.[3] The question to ask is rather what advantages could Japan have reaped, had its political leaders, even in the last few years, been half as ‘green‘ as their German counterparts? It is enough to note how absent is anything close to a Green Party in mainstream Japanese politics to understand the obstacles to a fullscale commitment to green energy strategies in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

There are nevertheless bright spots to be found in a number of localities. The architect Ito Toyo — winner of last year’s Pritzker prize and an intelligent and compelling voice for the reconstruction of the Tohoku region after the March 2011 disasters — has led experimental reconstruction projects in the affected areas. Ito has written of the need to question, as architects but even more as human beings what to do henceforth, of the need to ‘go back to square one and reexamine the essential meaning of architecture.’[4] The same shift in thinking must apply to all of us, in particular the ‘experts’.

Poll after poll have shown a steady majority of the Japanese far more willing than their politicians to embrace renewables and the “fifth fuel”, conservation, rather than return to nuclear power. Given Japan’s technological strengths, with the right leadership, policies and technologies, a shift is ultimately possible. However well-packaged, nuclear accident cleanup just remains too difficult — devouring massive time, money and energy, and none can ascertain that it works.

From time immemorial, Japan’s greatest perils and privileges have come from Nature. This remains unchanged – or rather has become even more compelling – in the early 21st century. Ancient rites and rituals, seemingly arcane or irrelevant to challenges of our modern age, are but reminders of this immutable reality. Last year the Grand Shrine of Ise, the country’s most sacred sanctuary, held its Sengu — renewal — ceremony, conducted since 690 AD at 20-year intervals. The rite has immensely practical value: the intricate architecture and carpentry of the structures, for example, demands intense and regular transmission of elaborate building techniques from generation to generation; the massive timbers require upkeep of designated forests and watersheds, and the special food offerings impose careful cultivation of nearby rice paddies, nurturing of fruit groves, care of fishing and gaming areas, the consistent sharing of knowledge about the land’s ecology. They also bring, century after century, not just spiritual well-being but enormous revenues to Mie Prefecture.

Location. Location. Location. George Sansom was right, to start his history of Japan with geology. Or as my late father would constantly remind us: ‘Never, ever, forget your geography’. ”

source to Nassrine Azimi’s article with internal references and photographs

Radioactive soil stored at Fukushima schools not covered by recent disposal law, has nowhere to go — The Japan Times

” FUKUSHIMA – Radioactive soil currently stored at schools in Fukushima Prefecture is not supposed to be transferred to radioactive waste storage facilities planned to be built near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Jiji Press learned Tuesday.

This is because decontamination at schools was carried out before a special law on radioactive contamination took effect in January 2012 and thus the Environment Ministry deems tainted soil collected during the work not covered by the law. The central government undertakes or funds decontamination work.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government is arguing that such discrimination is pointless and has repeatedly called on the ministry to create a system that will allow soil contaminated with fallout from the March 2011 nuclear calamity at the power plant to be shipped from schools to the planned interim storage facilities.

“We want the state government to prepare an environment where children can study safely,” a senior Fukushima municipal official said.

But the ministry has not given a clear response. This reluctance may be partly due to concerns over the cost of shipping soil to the facilities to store tainted soil before being finally disposed of at other locations. The cost is to be borne eventually by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

A senior ministry official said it may be unfair to discriminate between radioactive soil collected before and after the law’s effectuation.

In August, the Fukushima Prefectural Government decided to accept the construction of the temporary storage facilities around the nuclear plant.

Hoping to begin radioactive waste shipments to the facilities in January, the central government is working to win the consent of landowners on the construction. ”

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High levels of radiation found at Fukushima, 460,000 Bq/L; Removing fuel in unit 1 storage pool to start 2017 — NHK World

watch “High levels of radiation found at Fukushima”

watch “Removing fuel in unit 1 storage pool”

3/11 charges for Tepco execs delayed by three months — The Japan Times; Japan prosecutors set to rule on possible Fukushima indictments — Reuters

Updated Oct. 27, 2014, The Japan Times: ” Prosecutors have delayed for three months a decision on whether to charge three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. for their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, an official with a panel that requested the indictments said Friday.

The Tokyo District Prosecutor’s Office had been re-investigating the case after an independent judicial panel of citizens ruled in July that three former Tepco executives, including then-chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, should be indicted over their handling of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl explosion.

Prosecutors on Friday informed the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution of its decision to extend the probe by three months through the end of January, saying it was too difficult to reach a decision by the end-of-October deadline.

By law, prosecutors can extend investigations for up to three months.

Prosecutors decided in September last year not to indict the former Tepco executives, including Katsumata, saying it had been beyond the company’s imagination to foresee the scale of the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 that triggered the nuclear crisis.

Residents had accused more than 30 Tepco and government officials of ignoring the risks of a natural disaster and failing to respond appropriately when crisis struck. ”

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Posted Oct. 23, 2014: ” (Reuters) – Japanese prosecutors must decide this month whether to charge Tokyo Electric Power Co former executives for their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, in a process that could drag the wrecked nuclear plant’s operator into criminal court.

The judicial review is unlikely to see the former Tepco executives go to jail, legal experts say, but rehashing details of the meltdowns and explosions that followed an earthquake and tsunami will cast a harsh light on the struggling utility and will not help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unpopular effort to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors.

The Tokyo’s District Prosecutors Office last year declined to charge more than 30 Tepco and government officials after investigating a criminal complaint from residents, who said officials ignored the risks to the Fukushima Daiichi plant from natural disasters and failed to respond appropriately when crisis struck.

But a special citizens’ panel opened another legal front in July, asking prosecutors to consider charges of criminal negligence against three executives over their handling of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Under the review system, the prosecutors must respond by the end of the month.

If they again decline to take up the case, as some experts expect, the 11-member panel of unidentified citizens can order prosecutors to indict, if eight members vote in favor.

Prosecutorial Review Commissions, made up of citizen appointees, are a rarely used but high-profile feature of Japan’s legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic over-reach. In 2009, they were given the power to force prosecutions.

A panel in 2011 forced the prosecution of former opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa over political funding. He was acquitted in 2012 and remains an opposition figure.

Tepco already faces a string of civil suits, a decades-long, multibillion dollar decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and a struggle to restart a separate undamaged power station, the world’s biggest.

NOT LIKELY

All 48 of Japan’s reactors have been idle for more than a year under a safety regime that incorporated the lessons of Fukushima, where 160,000 people were forced to flee from a huge plume of radioactive material that left large areas uninhabitable for decades.

Backed by Abe’s pro-nuclear government, Kyushu Electric Power Co recently won approval from safety regulators to restart a plant in southwest Japan but faces opposition from some neighboring communities.

Nationwide, a majority of people has consistently opposed restarting nuclear power, according to opinion polls since the disaster.

The citizens’ panel said Tsunehisa Katsumata, Tepco chairman at the time of the disaster, and former executive vice presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro failed to take protect the Fukushima plant despite warnings it faced big tsunamis.

The prosecutors are unlikely to change their minds, said Shin Ushijima, an attorney and former public prosecutor.

“Prosecutors exhaust all means in their investigations and certainly would have in a special case like this, so if they were convinced they could not prosecute Katsumata and the others earlier, they will not reach a decision to indict now,” he said.

“There is a 50 percent chance that some or all of the three ex-Tepco executives will be indicted and 99.9 percent chance those indicted will be found not guilty,” Ushijima said.

“How can you prove one person, Katsumata for example, is liable or guilty, when such a big organization was behind such a large accident?”

Tepco faces huge compensation claims and has set aside just a fraction of the funds needed to decommission the Fukushima plant.

A court recently ordered the utility to pay compensation to the family of a woman who killed herself after being forced from her home because of the disaster. A group of Fukushima workers is also suing the company for unpaid wages. ”

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