Cancer patients who lived near Fukushima as children sue utility

·1 min read

Six people who lived in Fukushima during the nuclear disaster of 2011 filed a lawsuit on Thursday.

The plaintiffs - who developed thyroid cancer since the disaster, which they say was caused by massive radiation - are demanding 616 million yen, or $5.4 million, from the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO). They are specifically seeking utility pay compensation for their cancer diagnosis from the company which runs the nuclear plant, according to The Associated Press.

The lawsuit comes after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 2011 destroyed the Fukushima plant's cooling systems, prompting triple meltdowns and long-term radiation effects in the area.

The plaintiffs are now between the ages of 17 and 27, and were six to 16 years old at the time of the disaster. Since developing the cancer, some have had to have their thyroid completely removed and require lifelong hormonal treatment. One says their cancer has spread and others have had part of their thyroid removed, the AP reported.

"I couldn't tell anyone about my cancer because I was afraid of being discriminated against," one plaintiff in her 20s said. "But I decided to come forward and tell the truth in hopes of improving the situation for nearly 300 other people also suffering like us."

Another plaintiff said at a press conference that they hoped the court would establish the connection between the cancer and the plant's radiation, the wire service added.

On Thursday, TEPCO apologized for causing problems to people in Fukushima and added that the company would "respond sincerely" after looking into the court documents, the AP noted.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs also told the AP that this is the first group lawsuit in Japan over health issues connected to the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

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