Tepco may spend more to restart Niigata plant

Kyodo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is considering spending of tens of billions of yen extra to ensure the safety of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, which it hopes to restart in fiscal 2013, sources said.

As Tepco has already pledged to spend around ¥70 billion after the March 2011 meltdowns at its Fukushima No. 1 power station, total expenditure on safety measures at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, the world’s biggest atomic energy power complex, could climb above ¥100 billion, the sources said Friday.

The utility has already spent considerable time and resources on countermeasures against tsunami, including to fortify the plant’s seawalls, and it also plans to install upgraded ventilation facilities, the sources said.

Despite its current funding crisis, the utility is hoping that bolstered safety at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa will help it gain consent to reactivate the facility’s six reactors at an early date in the next fiscal year from April 1, according to the sources.

Tepco is expected to report a massive net loss for the third straight year in fiscal 2012 on compensation payments to Fukushima Prefecture residents and swelling fuel costs from its thermal power plants, as all but two of the nation’s nuclear reactors remain offline. The company and expects to remain in the red unless it can restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa complex.

Cesium record shattered

A greenling caught last month near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was tainted with a record 740,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, or 7,400 times the state-set limit for consumption, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The greenling, which weighed 564 grams and measured 38 cm long, was caught Feb. 21 near a water intake supplying four of the six reactors of the No. 1 plant while Tepco was eradicating fish from the crippled facility’s port, officials from the utility said Friday.

The previous record for cesium contamination was 510,000 becquerels per kilogram detected in a greenling captured in the same area, according to Tepco. The utility has installed a net on the floor of the port’s exit to prevent fish living close to the contaminated sediment from going elsewhere.

Fishermen have voluntarily refrained from fishing off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture since the nuclear crisis began two years ago, and only conduct experimental catches.