Class action lawsuit seeks Fukushima damages from General Electric

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: class action lawsuit, Fukushima, General Electric

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(NaturalNews) A corporation accused of failing to properly design and maintain the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in eastern Japan, which experienced three meltdowns after a historic earthquake and tsunami struck it back in 2011, is facing at least two multibillion-dollar lawsuits claiming negligence, breach of contract and recklessness, among other allegations.

Plaintiffs say General Electric (GE) improperly designed the facility, which sprung several leaks after being impacted by walls of water that left its cooling pools unable to contain spent nuclear fuel rods. GE also allegedly failed to properly maintain the aging plant, which contains assembly units manufactured by GE, GE-Hitachi Energy Holdings LLC and several other major corporations.

According to Courthouse News Service (CNS), Mitsuru Okura, lead plaintiff in the suit, has already given notice to the offending companies of his intent to reclaim damages for those injured by the disaster, which includes himself. Though the precise size of the class is still unknown, it is estimated that there will be at least 100,000 people who qualify to participate, each of whom would receive $3 million in damages from GE.

Calculated out over 100,000 people, this comes to $300 billion in damages, an immense sum of money that exceeds the current market capitalization of the company. If successful, the suit is expected to bankrupt GE, a company that Forbes has deemed to be the second-largest corporation in the world.

"Okura claims that GE's improper design, construction, assembly, testing, maintenance and modifications of the reactors and other facilities at the Fukushima nuclear power plant caused explosions and a meltdown at the plant after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011," CNS reports.

CNS further stated, "The plant released radiation and other contaminants into the environment, causing Okura and other class members 'personal injury, mental anguish, emotional distress, property damage, business interruption, loss of business, loss of income, economic injuries, and ongoing long-term physical, mental and emotional health problems,' according to the document."

If successful, multiple lawsuits will completely bankrupt GE

A second lawsuit filed against the same defendants but by different plaintiffs is seeking similar damages at $5 million per class member. Like the other suit, this one accuses GE of not only breaching its contract with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) but also failing to disclose pertinent information to the utility during and after the crisis.

At the very least, GE should be held partially responsible for damages since the company is on record as knowing that the reactors were unsafe prior to the disaster. According to GlobalResearch.ca, GE knew for decades that its reactors, which represent five of the six at the Fukushima plant, were inherently flawed in their design and unsafe.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, [GE] did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," explained Dale G. Bridenbaugh, a former GE employee, and two of his colleagues to ABC News back in 2011. The three actually quit their jobs after learning just how dangerous the plant really was.

"The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release," he added, which is exactly what happened.

If successful, the two class action lawsuits are expected to completely bankrupt GE, which more than likely would invoke a massive restructuring of the nuclear industry as we currently know it.

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