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Shareholders sue Tepco execs for Fukushima nuclear disaster

Plaintiffs allege negligence, demand a record $67.4 billion in compensation

Shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the operator of Japan’s Fukushima power plant, are suing company executives for $67.4 billion for their response to last year’s nuclear disaster.

Forty-two shareholders filed the suit, which is the largest of its kind in Japanese history. The plaintiffs allege that company executives failed to prepare for a potential accident at the plant, even after receiving multiple tsunami warnings. The plant suffered a nuclear meltdown after being rocked by an earthquake and tsunami nearly a year ago. The resulting radiation forced thousands of people to evacuate the area. Some experts have called the meltdown the second-worst nuclear disaster in history after the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

After the disaster, Tepco was criticized for downplaying the severity of the problem, and for delaying compensation payments to victims. Just last month, the Japanese government gave the struggling company an additional $8.9 billion to use for those payments.

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer on the case, said that by holding Tepco responsible for its failures, the plaintiffs hoped to prevent similar disasters in the future. In an interview with Reuters, however, Kawai admitted that a financial victory may be more difficult than a moral one: “Whether we can win in terms of the court decision and whether we can collect compensation are two separate issues.”

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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