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Public Cost Of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Continues to Rise

© AFP 2021 / TORU HANAI Men wearing protective suits and masks work in front of welding storage tanks for radioactive water, under construction in the J1 area at the Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma in Fukushima prefecture. (File)
Men wearing protective suits and masks work in front of welding storage tanks for radioactive water, under construction in the J1 area at the Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma in Fukushima prefecture. (File) - Sputnik International
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By the end of the 2015 fiscal year, the March 2011 nuclear accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima plant had cost the public some 4.2 trillion yen (about $42 million). Costs for decommissioning the reactor, compensating victims and radioactive decontamination, amounted to about 33,000 yen per capita.

TEPCO is seeking additional government assistance as the astronomical price tag for the accident continues to grow. The Japanese government’s special accounts budget shows that about 2.34 trillion yen went to an interim storage facility for contaminated soil, disposal of contaminated water and for the decontamination of affected areas. The government foot most of the bill, mostly through affiliated groups like the Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. and Nuclear Damage Compensation. 

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Eventually decontamination costs will be covered by the process of TEPCO selling its shares to government-backed organizations. The loans provided for the shares have been guaranteed by the government. If the TEPCO stock price makes lending unprofitable, the loans will be repaid using tax revenue.

The government is hoping for about 2.5 trillion yen in profit from the sale of TEPCO shares. For that to happen TEPCO stock would have to trade at roughly 1,050 yen, which a significantly sharp uptick from the current market price of 360 yen. 

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Some 1.1 trillion yen from the energy special account is to be used to finance the storage of contaminated soil. These funds come mostly from tax revenue generated by a promotion of power resources development, a part of the cost included in electricity bills.

The government also intends to spend about 1.8 trillion yen on a new research and development facility, decommissioning Fukushima’s reactors and and checking for food contamination.

After the nuclear accident, the worst in Japan’s history, TEPCO and six other utility companies collectively charged consumers at least 327 billion yen in rate hikes. TEPCO received roughly 219.3 billion yen from consumers to operate call centers for compensation inquiries and the maintenance of equipment used to clean up contaminated water.

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