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Judge sides with citizens in waste disposal odors suit

Date Posted: 2008-02-01

Miyako Jima City’s industrial waste disposal facility was a foul smelling site in 2001, giving local residents headaches of a medical type after it had a fire that burned for several months.

Oura area residents complained to Okinawa Prefecture and the former waste disposal plant operator vendor, asking for ¥48 million in compensation. Naha’s District Court ruled nearly a year ago the treatment plant was out of line, saying “It was a sloppy job that the vendor did,” and awarded compensation of ¥100,000~300,000 to each resident. The court refused to link Okinawa Prefecture to the dispute, sending residents to an appeal.

The Fukuoka Court of Appeals Naha Branch turned the residents’ appeal thumbs down this week, acknowledging the former vendor’s responsibilities were not well handled, and reinforced the payout order. While upholding the compensation award, it rejected residents’ claim they should receive more money despite their argument “If Okinawa Prefecture had operated properly and supervised the vendor, the fire would not have happened.”

The chief judge agreed Okinawa’s governor “should have given the right advice to the disposal treatment facility vendor,” but noted “failing to do so is not illegal. Okinawa Prefecture had rights to strip the vendor of his license, but didn’t do so, The fire was an accident, and not the responsibility of Okinawa Prefecture.”

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