TEPCO President says costs stemming from Fukushima compensation impossible for utility to bear

In an interview with NHK, TEPCO’s new president Naomi Hirose said it is impossible for the company to bear the burden of compensation alone, as it continues to struggle to cope with the Fukushima disaster.  Recent investigations by workers at Fukushima Daiichi have revealed areas where it is still unsafe for humans to work, and the utility may be forced to delay planned power rate increases due to criticism by a government panel assessing the utility’s request to raise tariffs by more than 10% after July 1st.

Outgoing TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata told more than 4,000 shareholders who gathered in downtown Tokyo that the utility desperately needs taxpayer money to avoid insolvency.   ”We are cutting to the bone to restructure,” he said, as shareholders yelled at him.

One shareholder unsuccessfully proposed that TEPCO move its headquarters to Fukushima Prefecture. “That way you can give more sincere support” to the disaster victims, he said.

Many shareholders demanded TEPCO make more cost-cutting efforts, and withdraw from nuclear power generation.  “TEPCO has demonstrated that it is unfit to operate a nuclear plant,” said Yui Kimura, one of the shareholders who made the proposal. “Restarting any of the remaining (TEPCO) reactors is out of the question.”

A speedy restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in northern Niigata prefecture,is a critical part of the utility’s restructuring plan, but Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida, opposes any restart, and the public is also against such actions as the plant already holds a bad reputation for falsification and failure to disclose of safety information.

The new Chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Kazuhiko Shimokobe, said restarting the reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant was imperative, and warned that there could be severe consequences if the reactors were not restarted as planned.

When asked if TEPCO would work to become less dependent on nuclear energy answered flatly that he could not imagine such actions in the near future.  Shimokobe added at his first press conference that, “2012 will be regarded as the year of the ‘second foundation,’ in which we will achieve our final and biggest reforms.”

Source: The Japan Times

Source: JiJi Press

Source: NHK

Source: Business Week

Source: NHK

Source: The Miami Herald

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