A Tokyo court has ordered four former executives of the Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay the company about $95 billion in damages over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.
Wednesday’s ruling was in response to a civil lawsuit filed by TEPCO shareholders, who blamed the executives for ignoring recommendations to protect the plant from a possible tsunami.
The plant became inoperable on March 11, 2011, when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that swept across northeastern Japan before reaching Fukushima prefecture.
The high waves knocked out the plant’s power supply and cooling systems and led to a meltdown of three reactors, sending massive amounts of radiation into the air and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents, making it the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
The ruling is also the first time any TEPCO executives have been held legally responsible for the Fukushima disaster. Three company executives were acquitted of criminal charges in 2019 by a Tokyo district court, which ruled they could not have predicted the huge tsunami that struck the plant.
The Japanese government approved a plan last year to release millions of tons of radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean as part of an effort to decommission the facility.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.