TEPCO execs barred from prosecution over outflow of polluted water at Fukushima plant

8 July 2016

An independent panel of citizens has endorsed a prosecution decision not to indict Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and its former and incumbent executives on charges of failing to take appropriate action to prevent the outflow into the sea of water polluted by radioactive fallout from the utility’s Fukushima Daiichi plant crippled by the 2011 nuclear accident. The approval was given by the Fukushima Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, effective June 23, following complaints to the panel that the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office’s decision to drop charges against TEPCO and seven of its officials, including current President Naomi Hirose, over their alleged violation of the Act of Environmental Pollution Offense concerning Human Health was not substantiated.

Under Japan’s prosecution system, no complaint can be brought again against the committee’s decision, effectively closing the door to criminal prosecution of TEPCO executives on the same charge.

In describing reasons for endorsing the prosecution decision, the committee said it had “called meetings time and again to discuss the issue while feeling inner conflict as a panel organized under the wing of a prefecture where the nuclear accident occurred.” But it found “no sufficient evidence to support either the outflow of radioactive substances or the occurrence of danger by (waste water) exhaust.”

The committee also said it was “unable to discover evidence enough to deem as unjustifiable the prosecution’s judgment that there was not sufficient evidence to support fault or negligence” on the part of the TEPCO side.

(Translated by Kyodo News)