GE sued for Fukushima disaster
Lawsuit alleges unsafe design, cost cutting
Japanese property owners and businesses near the Fukushima nuclear plant that melted down after a devastating 2011 tsunami filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit against General Electric for negligently designing the doomed plant.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in Boston, claims the explosions and release of radioactive material at the Fukushima reactors — likely the most costly industrial accident in history at $200 billion — were caused by GE’s unsafe design of the reactors and further efforts to cut costs that also undercut safety during the construction of the plant.
As a result, the area around Fukushima, according to the lawsuit, became a “ghost town.”
“There are no people. Roads are guarded by men in hazmat suits. And no one will ever live there again,” the lawsuit said.
GE said in a statement it became aware of the lawsuit today and is “thoroughly reviewing the matter.”
The company pushed into the nuclear industry in the 1960s and offered a “cheap reactor … with a significantly smaller, but less safe containment than industry standard” that safety experts repeatedly raised concerns about, the lawsuit said.
GE designed all six reactors at Fukushima — building two on site and advising on the construction of the rest. Original designs for the power plant called for it to be built near a bluff 115 feet above sea level. But GE — to save money — lowered the bluff to 80 feet, court papers say, “dramatically increasing the flood risk.”
Backup systems in the event of a problem at the nuclear plant were also woefully lacking, causing the cooling system to fail, the suit states.
General Electric Named in Federal Lawsuit Regarding Fukushima
General Electric is facing a federal lawsuit because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that happened on March 11, 2011. The class action lawsuit asks for $500 million and was filed by residents, medical clinics, and companies in Boston who allege that they were affected by the disaster. The plaintiffs allege that they represent more than 150,000 Japanese citizens affected from the nuclear disaster.
Federal Lawsuit Alleges GE Failed to Properly Maintain Nuclear Power Plant
In the federal complaint, filed on November 17, 2017, GE faces serious allegations including failure to properly maintain the Fukushima:
“GE designed and largely constructed the entire Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant at the center of the dispute, and for many years, directly or indirectly through its affiliates, was responsible for the maintenance of the [plant]. To this day, GE has paid literally nothing toward the massive economic and business destruction its actions and failings have caused.”
Reuters.com reported on December 8, 2016 that Japan had more than $188 billion in losses.
The plaintiffs allege that although the Fukushima disaster occurred in 2011, GE’s plan to “dominate the commercial nuclear power industry” in the 1960s meant that the defendant misrepresented how safe the plant would be so that they could earn more money.
GE continues to offer its “heartfelt sympathy” to those who were affected, but wants the matter handled under Japanese nuclear compensation law. Under that law, power plant operators are liable for the damages caused by the incident, regardless of what caused it. A company spokesperson went on to say that the Japanese government found that a tsunami was ultimately responsible and it was not the fault of how the reactor was designed.
GE was made aware of the lawsuit on November 19, 2017 and they are “thoroughly reviewing the matter.”