Ex-Fukushima execs to be charged over nuclear accident

July 31, 2015

A trio of former executives from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will be indicted over the 2011 accident, a judicial review panel decided Friday, paving the way for the first criminal trial linked to the disaster.

The decision comes after prosecutors twice refused to press charges against the men, saying they had insufficient evidence and little chance of conviction.

But the independent panel on Friday ruled—for the second time since the accident—that the executives should be put on trial, compelling prosecutors to press on with the criminal case under Japanese law.

The decision is the latest in a tussle between legal authorities and the public over who should take responsibility for the tsunami-sparked reactor meltdowns that forced tens of thousands from their homes in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

The trio are former Tokyo Electric Power chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, then-vice president Sakae Muto and former vice president Ichiro Takekuro.

"The victims have wanted a criminal trial given the anger and grief" over the accident, Ruiko Muto, a campaigner who called for charges, told reporters.

"We feel a sense of achievement that a criminal case will be held to account for an accident that caused such tremendous damage."

The judicial panel is composed of ordinary citizens.

A parliamentary report has said Fukushima was a man-made disaster caused by Japan's culture of "reflexive obedience", but no one has been punished criminally.

An angry public has increasingly pointed to cosy ties among the government, regulators and nuclear operators that have allegedly insulated executives of the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) from being charged.

Although the March 11 earthquake and tsunami killed 18,000 people, the it caused is not officially recorded as having directly killed anyone.

The most lasting health impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will likely be psychological not physical, according to a trio of studies published Friday in The Lancet.

The judicial review panel issued the same ruling in July last year, hailed by thousands of plaintiffs who demanded charges be laid, but the prosecutors gave up charging the former executives in January after re-opening their investigation into the case.

Campaigners have called for about three dozen company officials to be held accountable for their failure to take proper measures to protect the site against the tsunami, which sparked the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

Explore further: Fukushima executives to be spared charges over nuclear disaster

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24 comments

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AGreatWhopper
not rated yet Jul 31, 2015
Discovery. You bring the prosecution to allow for the discovery process. Lots of documents and behind closed doors discussions that need to be made explicit.

Where's GE and a defective product suit? They would not sell the reactor design used at Fukushima in the US. That's GE, putting the Fuk u in Fukushima.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Jul 31, 2015
" They would not sell the reactor design used at Fukushima in the US."
-------------------------------------

We have them by the dozens.

https://en.wikipe...reactors

And we knew they were unsafe, three GE nuclear engineers quit one day to protest their use.
Eikka
4.8 / 5 (6) Jul 31, 2015
Where's GE and a defective product suit?


Nowhere coming, because the fault wasn't in the reactor design, but in the choice to install the cooling system backup generators too low relative to the sea level, where they would get flooded - in an area known for tsunamis.

https://en.wikipe...er_Plant
"The plant is on a bluff which was originally 35 meters above sea level. During construction, however, TEPCO lowered the height of the bluff by 25 meters."


The real fault was in the facility design which was done to cut cost - which was TEPCO's responsibility. They built it to handle 7.5 meters, and got a 14 meter tsunami. The original plan would have held against the disaster.

And we knew they were unsafe


In the same sense as we know it's a bad idea to throw a towel over a space heater.

All reactors are safe within certain parameters, and the responsibility to use them safely lies with the owner.
gkam
1.5 / 5 (8) Jul 31, 2015
"All reactors are safe within certain parameters, and the responsibility to use them safely lies with the owner."
-------------------------------------

Yes, . . but the problem is keeping within those "certain parameters", and keeping them from affecting everyone else.
WillieWard
not rated yet Jul 31, 2015
All reactors are safe within certain parameters, and the responsibility to use them safely lies with the owner.
"..there is a fatal accident ratio of one per million flights. The main cause is Pilot in Command error."
http://en.wikiped...n_safety
In this sense, power plants should be more automatically controlled with redundancy/failover, far away from hands of "Homer Simpson"
http://en.wikiped..._Simpson
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2015
And we knew they were unsafe, three GE nuclear engineers quit one day to protest their use
Link please or its just another lie.
The real fault was in the facility design which was done to cut cost - which was TEPCO's responsibility. They built it to handle 7.5 meters, and got a 14 meter tsunami. The original plan would have held against the disaster
-And they put the backup generators in the basement when they shouldve been on the roof or a nearby hilltop.

An inexcusable and inexplicable error.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2015
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2015
"An inexcusable and inexplicable error."
--------------------------------

Inexcusable by YOU, . . an internet sniper, who actually bragged in these fora you hide behind your phony names to play "games" with the rest of us? That's who is critiquing another?

It is time you admitted you were gotten in your own game, and quit.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2015
Apologize for what? You're a confirmed liar. Your word is worthless. And so if you post a fact you need to reference it if you want to be taken seriously.
gkam
1 / 5 (6) Aug 03, 2015
Taking responsibility seems to have gone for the Nuclear industry. TEPCO actually tripled its profits last year, with much of its money coming from the government.

Taking responsibility is gone here,too. Look at the anonymous snipers here, chasing away anybody who threatens their little bailiwick. It seems to be the only life many of these folk have. Or had.

Taking Responsibility means being a good citizen, and a good person.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2015
Taking Responsibility means being a good citizen, and a good person.
Psychopaths are not good people although they will readily insist that they are, even as they are fleecing you for your own good.
Eikka
5 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2015
Yes, . . but the problem is keeping within those "certain parameters", and keeping them from affecting everyone else.


In this case it would have been trivial, and we must not forget that the Mark 1 was discontinued specifically for this weakness, which was addressed in the later designs.

It's APOLOGY TIME!!


Not really. The event you're referring to happened 35 years ago, and as a result, TEPCO and other utilities using the GE Mark 1 reactor were notified that it would not handle a coolant loss.

In their words:

Bridenbaugh said that to the best of his knowledge, the design flaws he had identified were addressed at the Daiichi plant, requiring "a fairly significant expense."


The flaws were fixable. In this case, simply erecting higher floodwalls and repositioning the backup generators, possibly retrofitting the emergency cooling system, would have sufficed to put the reactor back to safe parameters.

In reality, TEPCO did nothing.
Eikka
5 / 5 (6) Aug 05, 2015
Taking responsibility seems to have gone for the Nuclear industry.


You can't blame on the nuclear industry what affects all industries and aspects of life in a society like Japan, or the US for that matter. Take Enron for example. The problem of corruption and the resulting negligence is not endemic, it's systemic.

Arguments against anything on the basis that we as a society can't handle it responsibly, are really an admission that you've failed to keep checks on our own government to keep them accountable - and worse still, that you are personally incompetent because you are arguing that it's not possible to keep corruption in check in the future.

Unless of course, you are putting the blame on others and arguing that you or someone else holds superior knowledge and ability, and would make a fine dictator.
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Aug 05, 2015
Assume what you wish. My contention is nuclear technologies for power and weapons are counterproductive and not appropriate for a free society.
Eikka
5 / 5 (5) Aug 06, 2015
Assume what you wish. My contention is nuclear technologies for power and weapons are counterproductive and not appropriate for a free society.


A free society should be free to explore all the available options and judge them by their actual merits instead of by the demagoguery of the irrationally fearful - otherwise, why call it free?

In the end, you cannot stop people from developing and trying out the next doomsday technology without undermining your very idea of freedom, and if you do you're forced to create a society that is arguably worse than what you're trying to prevent.

Also: conflating nuclear power and nuclear weapons as being the same issue is like saying coal and gunpowder are the same thing.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2015
They differ only in the speed of reaction. They both will kill us.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2015
They differ only in the speed of reaction. They both will kill us.
No one is immortal. Everybody knows that aging and death both are natural phenomenon. But some boastful/presumptuous environmentalists believe they will live forever if all mankind replaces nuclear power by unicorn fart energy, changing natural landscapes, disturbing wildlife's habitats, sacrificing millions birds and bats.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 06, 2015
Do you want to live forever? Willie thinks coal pollution and nuclear pollution are good for us.

Willie thinks it is okay if we die early.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2015
..coal..it is okay if we die early.
Paradoxically, longevity, growth in human lifespan, coincides with Industrial Revolution not thanks to middle ages' unicorn fart energy.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 06, 2015
"fart energy."
--------------------------------

Yes, . . you keep on returning to your fixation on anal gases.
WillieWard
1 / 5 (2) Aug 06, 2015
Nuclear power is a natural winner, even with all myths, beliefs and conspiracy theories against it.
"New Nuclear Power Seen as Winner in Obama's Clean Power Plan"
http://www.bloomb...wer-plan
It is the most ecologically friendly energy source.
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2015
Nuclear power is Fukushima.

BTW, did you know they are still working on Chernobyl, trying to cover it?
WillieWard
1 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2015
"Renewable energy can't do the job. Gov should switch green subsidies into R&D" - 26 Jun 2015
"Unfortunately a lot of people aren't numerate and/or aren't honest, so it's far from sure that the colossal subsidies pumped into today's useless renewables will get diverted into R&D which could produce something worthwhile."
http://www.thereg...into_rd/
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2015
WillieWard for mayor of Fukushima!

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