Tepco’s Fukushima HQ starts operations

Futaba mayor: Citizens may be able to go home after 30 years

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Friday opened a Fukushima headquarters at J Village in Naraha to better deal with redress and other pressing issues related to the nuclear disaster.

The compensation claims Tepco faces are expected to be staggering, as indicated by the mayor of one of the communities uprooted by the radiation calamity who said that if all goes well, people from his town may be able to return to their homes in some 30 years, or the half-life of the radioactive cesium that contaminated their community.

At the Tepco redress HQ in Naraha, about 20 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, some 30 employees, including Vice President Yoshiyuki Ishizaki, have been assigned, the utility said.

The decision to open the redress headquarters was made in response to criticism that Tepco was dragging its feet in handling compensation claims and hasn’t made much progress on decontamination since the crisis began.

At an opening ceremony, attended by about 80 executives and employees, Tepco Chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe urged redoubled efforts for the reconstruction of Fukushima.

The utility also plans to give the local headquarters more decision-making authority for its tasks.

The utility will increase its staff within Fukushima Prefecture by about 500 by the end of this year to more than 4,000.

Futaba Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa meanwhile said his town, which has moved its administrative functions to Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, because of the triple-meltdown catastrophe, has set a provisional goal of enabling former residents to return to their homes in 30 years, the half-life of radioactive cesium.

Idogawa said the town will continue decontamination efforts in Futaba in cooperation with the central and prefectural governments, as well as Tepco, to reduce annual exposure to radiation to an internationally recognized upper limit of 1 millisievert.