4,000 Claimants from All Around the World Sue Nuclear Giants GE, Toshiba, Hitachi for 2011 Fukushima Disaster

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 13, 2014 2:03 PM EST

More than 4,000 claimants from around the world have filed a class action lawsuit against nuclear suppliers General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown.

A banner that reads "Fuku
A banner that reads "Fukushima" is placed in front of a giant symbolic Japan's national flag to mark the third year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

The lawsuit claimed the three nuclear giants failed to make the necessary updates to ensure the safety effectiveness of the site, lead lawyer Akihiro Shima told media in Tokyo.

It was the first lawsuit aimed against the suppliers of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. If successful and the claimants win, each will receive a largely symbolic 100 yen ($1).

The claimants come from Japan and 32 other countries including the United States, Germany and South Korea.

"General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi failed to implement safety improvements to the four-decades old boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant," a statement issued on Wednesday said.

Read: Chaos in Tokyo After Prosecutors Drop Charges Over Fukushima Nuclear Meltdowns

"The lawsuit is intended to bring attention to the system that protects the nuclear industry around the world," it added.

Under Japanese law, however, in the event of an unfortunate accident, nuclear plant suppliers are usually exempt from damage claims.

"It is not our policy to comment on pending legal actions," GE's Japanese unit told AFP. GE helped design the plant which "performed reliably for more than 40 years."

The firm is likewise facing two other class-action lawsuits filed in New York City.

Read: Scientists Build Radiation Scanner Exclusive for Babies of Fukushima, Could It Help Save Their Future At All?

No one died when the Fukushima plant leaked radiation when it got hit by a tsunami triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake three years ago. However, more than 100,000 people had to be evacuated.

Dubbed the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl, it will take until the year 2020 before all melted nuclear fuel and debris from the first three reactors will be removed.

Read: Fukushima 3 Years After: Thyroid Cancer Cases Among Children Rising

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(Photo: A banner that reads "Fuku / )
A banner that reads "Fukushima" is placed in front of a giant symbolic Japan's national flag to mark the third year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 11, 2014. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler
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