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Hundreds sue makers of Fukushima nuclear plant

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 30, 2014 at 7:36 a.m.

TOKYO — Some 1,400 people filed a joint lawsuit Thursday against three companies that manufactured Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, saying they should be financially liable for damage caused by its 2011 meltdowns.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that the lawsuit, filed at Tokyo District Court, is a landmark challenge of current regulations that give manufacturers immunity from liability in nuclear accidents. Under the Japanese nuclear damages compensation scheme, only the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has been held responsible for the accident, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

The plaintiffs, which include 38 Fukushima residents and nearly 400 others from around the world, said that manufacturers Toshiba, GE and Hitachi failed to make needed safety improvements to the four-decade-old reactors at the Fukushima plant. They are seeking compensation of $1 each, saying the idea is to raise awareness of the problem.

All three companies declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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