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Americans seek $1 bil. in damages over Fukushima nuclear disaster

A U.S. Marine assists Japanese Self-Defense Force members in removing debris from the grounds of Minato Elementary School in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, in this file photo taken on April 1, 2011. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Some 200 U.S. residents filed a suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and a U.S. firm seeking at least $1 billion to cover medical expenses related to radiation exposure suffered during the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the utility said Monday.

    The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with U.S. federal courts in the Southern District of California and the District of Columbia by participants in the U.S. forces' Operation Tomodachi relief effort carried out in the wake of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that crippled TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

    Many of the plaintiffs are suing TEPCO and the U.S. company, whose name was withheld by TEPCO, for the second time after a similar suit was rejected by the federal court in California in January.

    They are seeking the establishment of a compensation fund of at least $1 billion to cover medical and other costs, the utility said.

    The plaintiffs claim that the nuclear accident occurred due to improper design and management of the plant by TEPCO. They are also seeking compensation for physical and psychological damage suffered as a result of the disaster, said the utility.

    In Operation Tomodachi, which began two days after the natural disasters, the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and other U.S. military resources and personnel were deployed to deliver supplies and undertake relief efforts at the same time as three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi complex suffered fuel meltdowns.

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