Forty-two Tepco shareholders who in November asked its in-house auditors to file a negligence suit against 60 of the utility’s board members seeking ¥5.5 trillion in damages over the Fukushima nuclear crisis, may sue the directors on their own after the utility declined to pursue legal action, sources said Thursday.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. will notify the 42 shareholders of its reason for refusing to file suit against the 60 current and former directors, the sources said.
After examining the utility’s reasons, the shareholders will start preparations to file a suit with the Tokyo District Court by the end of January, they said.
While the suit will likely target fewer directors, the shareholders plan to retain the amount of damages, which at ¥5.5 trillion would make it the highest amount ever sought in a Japanese civil suit, they said.
The corporate law stipulates that if a company does not file a suit within 60 days of receiving a request from shareholders, it must notify them of its reason for not doing so and the shareholders can take legal action on their own. The 42 shareholders submitted a written request to Tepco’s auditors Nov. 14.
In the request, they said the firm should use any funds recovered through the lawsuit to compensate victims of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster.
The request also said that even though Tepco in 2008 calculated that tsunami of 15.7 meters could hit the No. 1 nuclear plant if a 8.30-magnitude quake struck off Fukushima Prefecture, the board members failed to take countermeasures such as raising the height of the plant’s seawall. The investors plan similar claims in the suit they are preparing against Tepco board members.
No. 1 tunnels flooded
Around 300 tons of highly contaminated water has leaked into an underground tunnel near reactor 3 unit at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
The water held 49 to 69 becquerels of radioactive cesium per cu. cm, Tepco said Thursday, adding the tunnel is for electric cables.
Some water with lower concentrations of radioactive materials was also found in a tunnel near the No. 1 unit, and Tepco said it will check how the water accumulated. Contaminated water was also found in two underground tunnels Wednesday.
Tepco started checking for accumulated pools of contaminated water in the plant’s underground tunnels after 220 tons of radioactive water turned up Dec. 18 in a tunnel near a storage facility.
City claims low exposure
The average radiation exposure of some 37,000 people in the city of Fukushima came to 0.26 millisievert for September to December, the city said.
“It is unlikely the radiation dose will pose a risk to their health,” it said, referring to the data collected by dosimeters distributed to children of junior high school age and younger as well as pregnant women.
Out of 36,767 residents whose results were available, 36,657 were exposed to less than 1 millisievert, it said. The city is 70 km northwest of the crippled plant.