Japan increases support to Fukushima clean up but TEPCO retains management role

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Fukushima Daiichi Site 2013

Originally, Tokyo Electric was to be held liable for all costs stemming from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, but in September the Japanese government stepped in and began providing financial help.  Now the clean-up and rebuilding of affected areas around the Fukushima Daiichi plant are the responsibility of the Japanese Government, while Tokyo Electric is responsible for compensation claims which are brought forward due to the disaster.

A statement released by the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters estimated that the decontamination costs near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will cost at least $24 billion USD.

Over the last two years, criticism of TEPCO’s handling of the disaster from within Japan and abroad, has instigated many calls for the utility to be placed under government control.

Instead, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe adopted new guidelines this week which increased the amount of interest-free loans which could be provided to TEPCO, up to $90 billion, up from $50 billion.

The central government also pledged to build a facility to store contaminated soil from around the plant with tax money.

To recover some these costs, the Japanese government will sell its shares of the Tokyo Electric Power company.

Essentially, the government is increasing its investment and oversight, but the management and operations will remain in TEPCO’s hands.

Experts however see the move as being made out of the fear to accept legal responsibility for the nuclear disaster and concern for how such actions could affect the nuclear industry as a whole.

TEPCO is facing seemingly insurmountable liabilities while it works to control and clean up the crippled nuclear power facility.  It is also facing the compensation of tens of thousands of evacuees and the decontamination of an area nearly the size of Connecticut.

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