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RPT-Japan nuclear crisis to trigger huge civil damages claims
Even when operating "normally" the costs of nuclear power are astronomical. Now Japan faces a new tier of nuclear costs: damages. And with this question comes that of liability. The scale of the disaster is not yet clear because it is ongoing, but the financial cost to Japan and the Japanese people looks to be enormous.
Reuters l Rachel Armstrong 4 April, 2011
TEPCO and government to handle claims
* Hundreds of thousands of claims expected
* Claims could top $130 bln in worst case - BofA-ML
* Government likely to set up central compensation fund
Japan's nuclear crisis is likely to lead to one of the country's largest and most complex ever set of claims for civil damages, handing a huge bill to the fiscally strained government and debt-laden plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co .
Lawyers say the size of the claims could be the biggest in Japanese legal history and the lack of precedent for dealing with these incidents means it is still not clear how the claims will be handled.
"Potentially, this could be one of the largest civil claims historically in Japan because of the number of people affected," said George Gibson, a partner at law firm Norton Rose in Tokyo.
Japan's government expects the earthquake and tsunami to cost up to $300 billion in material damage, but the ultimate cost will be far bigger as economic activity shrinks due to power shortages and compensation claims mount.