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In the first hearing of the trial at Tokyo district court on 30 June, the executives pleaded not guilty to the charges in the only criminal action that has been brought against officials.
Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) at the time of the environmental disaster, and two other former executives, told the court that they could not have foreseen a tsunami of the size that knocked out the facility's backup cooling system, causing a meltdown in three reactors on 11 March 2011.
The reactor failures led to radioactive releases and triggered a 30km evacuation zone around the plant.
Prosecutors allege that Katsumata and his co-defendants -- former Tepco vice-presidents Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro -- had been presented with data that anticipated a tsunami more than 10m in height. A wave of this height could cause a power outage and other serious damage because the plant's seawall was not robust enough to withstand it.
The Guardian highlighted a government panel report, which said that Tepco had simulated the impact of a tsunami on the plant in 2008. The operator had concluded that a wave measuring up to 15.7m could hit the nuclear facility if a magnitude-8.3 quake occurred off the coast of Fukushima. Executives allegedly ignored the internal study findings.
Investigators have been highly critical of Tepco's safety culture and also pointed to poor oversight by industry regulators. The Guardian reported that prosecutors had considered the case twice and dropped it both times. However, a citizens' judicial panel overrode the decision and indicted the former executives.
Prosecutors allege that the executives should be held to account for the deaths of 40 elderly people, who had to be evacuated from a hospital near the plant. There are no records of anyone dying as a result of radiation exposure from the facility.
If convicted, the three former executives face up to five years in prison or a penalty of up to 1m yen (£7,000).
Western had instructed a group of 15 employees to replace overhead power lines with insulated cables, Truro Crown Court was told. On the evening of 16 January 2013, linesman Ryan Thomas was working up an electricity pole. One of his colleagues cut a connecting wire and this caused Thomas’s pole to fall to the ground while the 28-year-old was still attached. He sustained internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The worker at Manchester-based HMG Paints was using the solvent to carry out the cleaning at the firm’s Manchester site on 18 November 2014.The employee had carried out the same job several times since the booth had been installed. However, on this occasion, after complaining about the difficulty in removing the dried paint, he was allowed to purchase an industrial floor scrubber to undertake the work.
The oil giant reached a settlement agreement with the state’s occupational safety and health regulator Cal/OSHA on Monday (24 July) to ensure the safe operation of process safety equipment at the site. As part of the agreement, the company will replace all carbon steel piping used to transport corrosive liquids with chrome-alloy piping, which has superior corrosion resistance properties. It also must implement procedures to monitor the equipment that alerts operators to necessary replacements.
Teesside Crown Court was told that a mattress spring had blocked a chute used to take burnt waste away from the incinerator. During the night shift on 17 October 2014, Leonard Allison opened two hatches on the chute and used a metal pole to dislodge the obstruction. The coil and backed-up ash dropped into a water-filled pit used to cool debris and caused a plume of hot ash and steam to erupt from the two open hatches.
The “landmark” regulation comes almost five years after a chemical release and fire at US oil giant Chevron’s refinery in the Californian city of Richmond, which reportedly caused 15,000 people to seek medical attention. The new regulation provides a framework to help the state’s refinery workers “anticipate, prevent and respond to hazards”. It requires employers to:
Adrian Pickett had been contracted by retired farmer James Headland, 73, to carry out the work at his farm. Pickett did so using his own tractor-mounted rotary flail hedge cutter, Lincoln Magistrates’ Court was told. The accident happened on 13 February 2013. Headland later died of his injuries. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the contractor had failed to properly maintain his machinery and fit it with the correct guarding.