Tokyo Electric Power Co. was aware of the need to take anti-tsunami measures at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant before the 2011 crisis, contrary to its claims regarding such hazards there, lawyers for plaintiffs in a damages suit said Thursday.
Yuichi Kaido, one of the lawyers, told the Tokyo District Court that an internal Tepco document dated 2008 shows the company “had clearly recognized as of that year that measures against tsunami were inevitable, contradicting the company’s explanations so far.”
The operator of the radiation-leaking plant crippled by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami has claimed during the trial and in other venues that it was not able to predict the massive tsunami.
The lawsuit was filed in March 2012 by more than 40 Tepco shareholders seeking to have former and current company directors pay around ¥5.5 trillion in damages to the company for their failure to prevent the crisis.
Tepco has demanded the claim be dismissed.
The internal document, which was compiled for a company meeting held at Fukushima No. 1 in 2008, says measures against tsunami hazards are “inevitable as we cannot help but expect bigger tsunami than currently projected” given the opinions of academics and the government, the lawyers said.
According to a report compiled in 2012 by a Diet-appointed panel that investigated the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Tepco projected in June 2008 that after an earthquake the plant could be hit by 15.7-meter waves. The internal document was produced three months after that, but the utility did not take specific measures against tsunami.
The document is another piece of evidence supporting the investigative panel’s report that called the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986 a “clearly man-made disaster” caused by the company.
The lawyers claimed that Tepco apparently tried to avoid spending massive amounts of money on boosting the plant’s preparedness against disasters.
Fukushima No. 1 lost nearly all of its power sources and consequently the ability to cool its reactors after it was hit by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami on March 11, 2011.
Reactors 1, 2 and 3 suffered core meltdowns while a hydrogen explosion rocked the building housing the No. 4 unit.