Three residents of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Prefecture filed a criminal case on Tuesday against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami which caused multiple core meltdowns in the facility. In the complaint filed with the Fukushima Prefectural Police, the residents named TEPCO and 32 of its current and former executives at fault by neglecting to take measures in preventing toxic water at the crippled nuclear plant from flowing into the Pacific Ocean.
The complaint accused TEPCO and its president, Naomi Hirose, as well as about 30 other executives of violating anti-pollution laws. Among the three who filed the complaint is Ruiko Muto, a Fukushima resident who heads a group of some 14,000 people who have already filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors against the utility, its executives and government officials over their responsibility for causing the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This latest complaint, however, specifically implicates Hirose and the TEPCO management in the failure to take appropriate measures to stop the daily flowing of radioactive groundwater – around 300-400 tons of it, as revealed by TEPCO – into the Pacific, effectively shutting down the fishing industry in the area and even those of nearby port cities and villages. Prosecutors are just now considering how to deal with the initial complaint, even as this second criminal complaint is filed.
According to a lawyer representing the residents, the complainants say that TEPCO let the leakage worsen by delaying information and necessary preventive measures, such as barriers. He said that the utility had been fearful of the cost implications of such measures – more than US$1 billion, according to him – and that it would eventually cause the company’s share price to fall. The lawyer argued that as the utility operator has shown in its other lapses, its biggest priority was to save money. He said that the utility must be held responsible for its negligence. TEPCO management has so far declined to comment on the complaint.