Ministry may sue Tepco for ¥16 billion

Kyodo

The Environment Ministry is considering filing a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co., seeking payment of about ¥16.5 billion in decontamination expenses since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, sources said.

The unpaid amount includes expenses for decontamination work by the government near the Fukushima No. 1 facility undertaken based on a special law to deal with radioactive contamination, as well as central government subsidies allocated to local governments that conducted decontamination work, the sources said.

Under the law, the government is supposed to cover decontamination expenses first and ask Tepco to reimburse the sum later. Although there is no deadline for the payment, Tepco’s failure to pay means the government is continuing to use taxpayer money for decontamination projects.

If the court orders Tepco to pay the decontamination costs, the utility will also have to pay interest. Therefore, the Environment Ministry believes that Tepco will soon agree to the payment, the sources said, adding that the ministry is now discussing the matter with the Justice Ministry.

The Environment Ministry has asked Tepco to pay the decontamination costs every three months after finalizing the sum following the completion of decontamination projects.

Of about ¥21.1 billion requested by the ministry, Tepco has only agreed to pay ¥4.4 billion.

Tepco plans to soon pay an additional ¥250 million, but it remains unwilling at present to pay the remaining ¥16.5 billion, saying it will take a long time to confirm the relevant documents.

The government had booked about ¥1.3 trillion in decontamination costs by this April. The sum that the Environment Ministry asked Tepco to pay is only part of the overall decontamination projects conducted in fiscal 2011.

When each local government closes its books for fiscal 2012, the sum will likely top ¥100 billion, the sources said.

Tepco said that it has responded appropriately in accordance with the special measures law on radioactive materials but declined to elaborate on the specific conditions of the payment.