General Electric Sued for Role in Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Boston on behalf of more than 150,000 Japanese citizens and a host of companies.

The GE logo

Photo via AP/Thibault Camus

A class-action lawsuit was filed against Boston-based General Electric on Friday on behalf of people affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster that took place in Japan in 2011.

According to Boston Business Journal, the suit was filed in federal court in Boston and alleges the company’s decisions dating back to the 1960s led to the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which caused an estimated $250 billion in damage. Despite this astronomical bill, the lawsuit claims that, “To this day, GE has paid literally nothing toward the massive economic and business destruction its actions and failings have caused.”

The plaintiffs in the case, who comprise medical facilities, residents, and companies in the affected area, total 150,000 citizens and scores of Japanese businesses. GE designed and primarily constructed the plant, the lawsuit states, and was responsible for its upkeep.

ABC News in 2011 reported that three GE employees quit over concerns that the nuclear reactor they were reviewing was flawed. They left their jobs in 1975—36 years before an earthquake that triggered the plant’s total failure.

Following the accident, GE told ABC News that the reactors worked well for 40 years and “performed as designed,” even after the initial earthquake.

In a statement, a spokesperson from GE emphasized past investigations that have concluded the tsunami catalyzed the nuclear disaster, not the reactor design. The spokesperson also expressed “heartfelt sympathy for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.”

The lawsuit is the latest in a not-so-stellar week for GE. On Monday, news broke that one in four corporate jobs would be cut from the company’s roster.

This story was updated at noon on November 21 with additional comments from GE.