FUKUSHIMA — More than 3,000 residents here have filed for compensation for mental distress over radiation emanating from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster through an out-of-court settlement system, it has been learned.
The claim was filed with the government-backed Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center by 3,107 residents in 1,107 households in the Watari district of the city of Fukushima on July 21. They comprise about 20 percent of Watari residents.
Through an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedure, these residents are demanding plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) pay 100,000 yen per person per month and 200,000 yen per person for the first six months after the meltdown when radiation levels were higher.
The residents claim that they harbor health concerns over radiation exposure and suffer from other forms of mental distress from the nuclear disaster. Watari is located about 60 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 plant and is known for relatively higher radiation levels compared to other districts in the city of Fukushima. According to the Fukushima Municipal Government, the radiation doses in Watari topped 2 microsieverts per hour over a six-month period since the onset of the nuclear crisis.
According to Watari residents, there are still a large number of spots in Watari whose radiation levels are over twice the national government’s criteria for decontamination work, which is 0.23 microsieverts per hour.
Under the national government guidelines, residents in government-ordered evacuation zones and “specific spots recommended for evacuation,” where radiation dosage is regionally high, are entitled to 100,000 yen each a month under TEPCO’s compensation for mental distress. However, residents in the city of Fukushima have been paid only 120,000 yen per adult thus far as the city falls under a voluntary evacuation zone.
“The Watari district was not designated as a specific evacuation recommendation spot because the national and prefectural governments wanted to avoid a situation where residents in the center of the city evacuate. We should be entitled to compensation on par with that for residents in specific evacuation recommendation spots,” one of the residents said at a news conference on July 21.
In November last year, about 1,000 residents in the city of Fukushima’s Onami district — about 90 percent of the district’s population — filed for compensation from TEPCO via the ADR center as the area has been plagued by relatively higher radiation doses.