THREE former executives of Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) have been indicted for failing to take measures to prevent the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The indictments are the first in relation to the meltdown at the site five years ago. Prosecutors had declined to bring a case due to a lack of evidence but this decision prompted angered civilians to form a civilian judiciary panel under Japanese law and after reviewing the evidence themselves convinced prosecutors to issue indictments.
The three indicted on charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury are Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of TEPCO at the time, and two former vice presidents – Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro, reports Japan’s Kyodo media outlet.
The indictment blames them for injuries to 13 people from hydrogen explosions at the plant, and the deaths of 44 people caught up in the chaos of evacuating the region, including the elderly and ill. No one has died as a result of radiation emitted in the disaster.
The panel alleges that the former executives received a report in 2009 that the nuclear site could be hit by a tsunami as high as 15.7 m but failed to address the risk. A magnitude 9 earthquake struck the region on 11 March 2011, creating a 15m wave that swept over the site’s 5.7m high seawall disabling power supply and cooling of three reactors which subsequently melted down.
TEPCO has declined to comment on the indictment because it concerns a criminal case. The trial isn’t expected to begin until next year.
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