Six young people sued the operator of Japan’s disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant on Thursday, claiming that exposure to radiation after the plant’s multiple meltdowns caused them to develop thyroid cancer.
The plaintiffs, who are now aged 17 to 27, were living in the Fukushima area on March 11, 2011, when a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami caused one of the world’s worst nuclear crises at the Fukushima plant, according to Xinhua news agency.
On Thursday afternoon, the group’s lead lawyer, Kenichi Ido, told local media that they will file a class-action lawsuit against the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
According to local reports, the plaintiffs are seeking 616 million yen ($5.35 million) in damages.
An expert panel assembled by the local government concluded that there is no causal link between radiation exposure from the disaster and thyroid cancer, and a UN report concluded that the disaster had not directly affected the health of locals a decade later.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation concluded that a higher rate of thyroid cancer detection among children was most likely due to more advanced diagnostics.
However, Ido maintained that none of his plaintiffs’ cancers were inherited, and that exposure to radiation in the Fukushima region following the meltdowns was most likely the cause of the thyroid cancers.
“Some plaintiffs have had difficulties advancing to higher education and finding jobs, and have even given up on their dreams for their future,” Ido was quoted as saying.
The plaintiffs ranged in age from six to sixteen years old at the time of the meltdowns and were diagnosed with thyroid cancer between 2012 and 2018.