Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) has almost doubled the estimated cost of compensation for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and decommissioning of the damaged Fukushim Daiichi nuclear plant to more than JPY20,000bn ($177.51bn), the Nikkei business daily reported on 28 November.
At the end of 2013, Meti calculated the cost at JPY11,000bn, which comprised JPY5,400bn for compensation, JPY2,500bn for decontamination, JPY1,100bn for an interim storage facility for contaminated soil, and JPY2,000bn for decommissioning, the report said. The new estimate increased the cost of compensation to JPY8,000bn and decontamination to JPY4-5,000bn. The cost for an interim storage facility remained unchanged, while several thousand billion yen will be added the cost of decommissioning and dealing with radioactive water at the plant site. Some of the cost increase will be passed on in electricity fees, the report added, citing multiple unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
Meti will discuss with the Ministry of Finance a possible expansion of the JPY9,000bn interest-free loan programme to help support the finances of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) that was set up through issuing government bonds to cover compensation payments and decontamination. It is expected to take up to 30 years to recover that loan through payments from Tepco and other big utilities. The government also plans to recover the expected rise in compensation payments and decontamination expenses by increasing charges for transmission line usage for new electricity retailers. Tepco is, in principle, responsible for funding decommissioning of the plant but it is not clear whether this will be possible. The government will manage the funds, which will be established using Tepco’s profits,