• Kyodo

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A couple in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, filed a 60 million yen damages suit Tuesday against nuclear processing firm JCO Co. and its parent company for endangering their health as a result of Japan’s worst nuclear accident in 1999.

Shoichi Oizumi, 73, and his 62-year-old wife, Keiko, filed the civil suit with the Mito District Court against JCO and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. over radiation exposure caused by the nuclear accident.

They are the first local residents to take action of this kind.

Oizumi owns an auto parts company located about 120 meters west of the JCO plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, where the accident occurred. Both he and his wife were in the factory at the time.

Following the incident, he developed eczema on his hands, and his wife was hospitalized for a gastric ulcer. After she was discharged, she was diagnosed as suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder.

On Sept. 30, 1999 workers at the uranium processing plant triggered a nuclear fission chain reaction when they poured too much uranium solution into a processing tank. The plant is 120 km northeast of Tokyo.

Two of the workers later died from radiation sickness and more than 600 people were exposed to radiation as a result of the accident.

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