GE trying to duck responsibility for poisoning U.S. sailors off Fukushima

Another day, another giant U.S. corporation trying to duck responsibility for its actions that endanger the health and welfare of our citizens. Earlier this week, I told you about ExxonMobil and how its political connections in New Jersey are helping the world’s largest oil company get out of paying billions of dollars for the environmental damage caused by its large Bayview refinery.

Now it’s another one of the world’s giant multinationals, General Electric, in a huge case with global implications. Several times since 2011, I’ve written about a tragic and under-covered consequence of the tsunami-related accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power facility. The U.S. Navy men and women who served on the USS Reagan, which had been patrolling in the Pacific at the time of the April 2011, set off for the battered Japan coast on a humanitarian mission. But before the ship could even reach Japan, the crew was exposed to radiation from the failing reactors at Fukushima — reactors that had been designed by U.S.-based GE. Hundreds of sailors have reported symptoms such as rare cancers, blindness, birth defects in their children, and families of two sailors who died believe there is a connection to the Fukushima exposure.

In this face of this gross negligence, GE is fighting hard to keep this case out of the U.S. legal justice system. Here’s the latest twist:

A group of U.S. Navy sailors has lashed out at General Electric Co.’s “flagrant display of power” over its bid to dismiss a suit on nuclear radiation exposure from the Fukushima power plant disaster, rejecting arguments that their $1 billion class action belongs in Japan. 

The sailors said in a memo filed Sunday that U.S. policies would be “severely compromised” should U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino agree the suit belongs in a Japanese court. Further, they claimed, GE’s argument that the suit is barred by Japan’s Nuclear Compensation Act and the political question doctrine fails to pass muster.

“It is clear from GE’s motion that they have been somehow able to immunize their conduct both under Japanese and international law,” the memo said. “GE cannot merely rely on its power and influence to evade responsibility for its part in causing the horrific damage and suffering to the people of Fukushima and to U.S. service member plaintiffs who are daily enduring the terrible aftermath of extreme radiation exposure due to GE and its co-defendants’ unconscionable and inexcusable conduct.”

GE argued in early February that the court should dismiss the suit since Japan’s October ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage grants the country’s courts exclusive jurisdiction on claims arising from domestic nuclear incidents, and the exclusive liability provision of Japan’s Nuclear Compensation Act and political question doctrine bar the suit’s claims.

The sailors are seeking to prove that manufacturing and design defects — not just from GE but from other contractors such as Toshiba —  in the Mark I reactors used at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contributed in a significant way to their illnesses. Unfortunately, GE’s policy of throwing up legal roadblocks is pretty much par for the course in the Fukushima matter, mirroring efforts by the utility, TEPCO, and by the Japanese government to cover up both the causes of the nuclear disaster at the plant and the ongoing severity of the situation.

Unfortunately, this kind of stonewalling is not unusual, period — especially when the dangers of radiation are involved. As I chronicle in my new book Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America, my start as an environmental attorney came suing Big Oil companies over their deceit involving radiation contamination of pipe-cleaning facilities and workers across the Deep South. I witnessed the lies, the cover-ups, and the courtroom tactics meant to confuse jurors over the facts about radiation — and when that didn’t work, a largely successful campaign to get these kinds of cases out of the court system. Unfortunately, Fukushima is following the same pattern. Real justice can be done here, but it may take a long, long time. One thing I do know is that it will take a legal team with a lot of radiation litigation experience.

Another day, another giant U.S. corporation trying to duck responsibility for its actions that endanger the health and welfare of our citizens. Earlier this week, I told you about ExxonMobil and how its political connections in New Jersey are helping the world’s largest oil company get out of paying billions of dollars for the environmental damage caused by its large Bayview refinery.

Now it’s another one of the world’s giant multinationals, General Electric, in a huge case with global implications. Several times since 2011, I’ve written about a tragic and under-covered consequence of the tsunami-related accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power facility. The U.S. Navy men and women who served on the USS Reagan, which had been patrolling in the Pacific at the time of the April 2011, set off for the battered Japan coast on a humanitarian mission. But before the ship could even reach Japan, the crew was exposed to radiation from the failing reactors at Fukushima — reactors that had been designed by U.S.-based GE. Hundreds of sailors have reported symptoms such as rare cancers, blindness, birth defects in their children, and families of two sailors who died believe there is a connection to the Fukushima exposure.

In this face of this gross negligence, GE is fighting hard to keep this case out of the U.S. legal justice system. Here’s the latest twist:

 A group of U.S. Navy sailors has lashed out at General Electric Co.’s “flagrant display of power” over its bid to dismiss a suit on nuclear radiation exposure from the Fukushima power plant disaster, rejecting arguments that their $1 billion class action belongs in Japan. 

The sailors said in a memo filed Sunday that U.S. policies would be “severely compromised” should U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino agree the suit belongs in a Japanese court. Further, they claimed, GE’s argument that the suit is barred by Japan’s Nuclear Compensation Act and the political question doctrine fails to pass muster.

“It is clear from GE’s motion that they have been somehow able to immunize their conduct both under Japanese and international law,” the memo said. “GE cannot merely rely on its power and influence to evade responsibility for its part in causing the horrific damage and suffering to the people of Fukushima and to U.S. service member plaintiffs who are daily enduring the terrible aftermath of extreme radiation exposure due to GE and its co-defendants’ unconscionable and inexcusable conduct.”

GE argued in early February that the court should dismiss the suit since Japan’s October ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage grants the country’s courts exclusive jurisdiction on claims arising from domestic nuclear incidents, and the exclusive liability provision of Japan’s Nuclear Compensation Act and political question doctrine bar the suit’s claims.

The sailors are seeking to provide that manufacturing and design defects — not just from GE but from other contractors such as Toshiba —  in the Mark I reactors used at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contributed in a significant way to their illnesses. Unfortunately, GE’s policy of throwing up legal roadblocks is pretty much par for the course in the Fukushima matter, mirroring efforts by the utility, TEPCO, and by the Japanese government to cover up both the causes of the nuclear disaster at the plant and the ongoing severity of the situation.

Unfortunately, this kind of stonewalling is not unusual, period — especially when the dangers of radiation are involved. As I chronicle in my new book Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America, my start as an environmental attorney came suing Big Oil companies over their deceit involving radiation contamination of pipe-cleaning facilities and workers across the Deep South. I witnessed the lies, the cover-ups, and the courtroom tactics meant to confuse jurors over the facts about radiation — and when that didn’t work, a largely successful campaign to get these kinds of cases out of the court system. Unfortunately, Fukushima is following the same pattern. Real justice can be done here, but it may take a long, long time.

To read more about my battles with Big Oil over radioactive contamination, check out my book, Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America: http://shop.benbellabooks.com/crude-justice

To learn more about the radioactive poisoning of the USS Reagan sailors, please read: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/11/21/navy-sailors-report-radiation-sickness-japan-quake-tsunami-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

For the latest on the sailors’ lawsuit against General Electric, check out (subscription required):  http://www.law360.com/environmental/articles/626928?nl_pk=e5131855-9ec2-4bc7-973d-f85f56b62710&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=environmental

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One Response to GE trying to duck responsibility for poisoning U.S. sailors off Fukushima

  1. Smith Stag llc is a pioneer in radiation liability. Read Stuart Smith’s book, “Crude Judtice.”

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