Tepco mulling cuts in pensions, workforce

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Toshio Nishizawa said Tuesday the utility is considering cutting corporate pension payments as well as its workforce as it faces ballooning compensation payments over the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The government panel tasked with overseeing Tepco’s cost-cutting efforts has pointed out that the utility’s personnel costs are high compared with other sectors.

After briefing a meeting of the panel, Nishizawa said of a possible cut in pension payments and personnel: “We are considering it and currently discussing the details.”

The panel is scheduled to submit its final report Sept. 28 on overall restructuring plans to allow Tepco to pay compensation to people affected by the nuclear crisis.

The panel’s head, Kazuhiko Shimokobe, appeared dissatisfied with the utility’s cost-cutting plans, describing Tepco as “still slack.”

During a meeting Tuesday to question the Tepco president about the restructuring plans, Nishizawa presented a detailed plan to cut the workforce while noting that the utility is also considering how much it should cut its pension payments.

Nishizawa suggested that Tepco retirees will also be subject to the envisioned cuts in pension payments.

“We have to consider pensions widely without creating areas that are off-limits,” Nishizawa said.

Groundwater woes

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it suspects 200 to 500 tons of groundwater a day might be flowing through pits and wall cracks into reactor and turbine buildings at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The suspicion is based on the fact that a decline in water levels in the buildings has slowed down.

“The suspected groundwater inflow is now unlikely to cause problems as the plant is capable of treating nearly 1,000 tons of radiation-contaminated water,” a Tepco official said.

However, the inflow is expected to affect efforts to contain the crisis.

“We should assess the groundwater inflow and readjust an overall plan for treating contaminated water,” said an official at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.