The cost of an oil spill

28 February 1998

Tokyo Electric has disclosed that the costs of the measures taken in January 1997 to protect its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site following the break up of the Russian oil tanker, the Nahodka, in the Japan Sea, amounted to ¥354 million (about $2.7 million). The utility intends to make a claim for this amount to the international fund which has been set up to compensate for damage caused by oil spills.

The oil slicks posed a serious threat to the 22 nuclear reactors along that coast belonging to Kansai Electric, JAPC, PNC, Hokuriku Electric and Tokyo Electric). Had the oil entered the cooling water intakes, the reactors would have had to be shut down and the subsequent clean up would have been very expensive. The utilities therefore took extensive precautions to prevent this from happening, by installing additional oil barriers, intercepting oil slicks and tracking the movement of the oil. The precautions were successful and no plant had to be shut down.

By TEPCO’s standards these charges are relatively modest. Assuming a generation cost of 9 yen per kWh, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site has an earning potential of ¥1774 million ($14 million) per day. Nevertheless they are only a small part of the claims which Japan will probably make in connection with this incident; the claims in total could possibly exceed the capacity of the fund.




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