Verdict on nuclear disaster – Fukushima managers have to pay CHF95 billion

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The standard sum is intended to remind Japanese managers that they are personally responsible for their actions.

All about this: Four former top managers of Japanese energy company TEPCO were sentenced to billions of dollars more than eleven years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The four people responsible could have avoided the disaster, and the court justified the fine totaling about 95 billion francs. Shareholders of listed TEPCO have filed a lawsuit.

So the judgment is important: For the first time, a court has ruled that the nuclear-powered company Tepco is responsible for the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. On March 11, 2011, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake 100 kilometers off the eastern coast of Japan triggered a massive tsunami that not only killed thousands of people, but also caused the collapse of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Hundreds of thousands of people had to permanently leave the area around the nuclear power plant.

Here is the logic of the court: According to the judge, Tepco executives should have anticipated the possibility of a tsunami. As early as 2002, a Tepco subsidiary warned of tsunami dangers to reactor blocks in Fukushima based on a study. The court now says that the responsible manager would have taken this warning seriously and acted with foresight and, for example, better protected emergency generators. These failed after the tsunami, after which the reactor blocks could no longer be cooled and the core melted.

This is the situation in Fukushima


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Caption:

Reuters

At the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, clean-up work is still underway – likely to take decades. Spilled and molten nuclear fuel from three reactors is still cooling. Little is known about the condition within pressure vessels.

Spent fuel rods over pressure vessels also cannot be salvaged. Next, Tepco wants to drain the filtered cooling water into the sea, and then nearly 1,000 water tanks can also be dismantled at the nuclear power plant site.

This is how it goes: “Of course, the four directors can’t pay the equivalent of CHF95 billion,” says Martin Fritz, a journalist living in Tokyo. It is possible that you are facing personal bankruptcy. The plaintiffs – the shareholders of Tepco – were not interested in the money either, but in holding the managers accountable – which is what happened now. The convicts still have a chance to appeal the verdict.

Court sends message to Japanese managers: Act responsibly!

This is the effect of the ruling: “The huge amount of compensation for the ruling basically serves as a deterrent,” says journalist Fritz. The goal was to remind Japanese managers that they have a long-term responsibility for the company. “With the amount so high, the court sends the message to the managers: Act responsibly!”.

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