Utilities seek Rokkashomura cash

3 July 2003

Japan's nuclear power generators are in talks with the ruling Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) about government compensation for much of the cost of the Rokkashomura reprocessing plant. The generators are also seeking compensation for power market deregulation.

A report leaked to the Japanese media said that the total cost of the Rokkashomura plant for a planned 40-year operation will be about $125 billion. Some costs may be covered by higher electricity prices, but officials of the Federation of Electric Power Companies (Fepco) said that the government should fund the decommissioning and waste management costs.

Fepco may ask METI to introduce legislation that would require the national government to pay all of the cost except for an estimated $56 billion in operating charges. The legal changes would be in place in 2004, a year before the plant is scheduled to start up.

According to the Mainichi newspaper, the LDP has finalised a white paper on nuclear policy reform.

The newspaper calls on the Japanese government to take on some of the costs of the nuclear fuel cycle, provided that the industry "flexibly implements" the government's policy of recycling the plutonium produced in reactors.

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