LDP bigwig pushes Tepco split to speed up Fukushima No. 1 decommissioning

Kyodo

A senior official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has proposed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Tepco be split up and a new company created to take charge of decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant, a party official said Saturday.

The plan, floated Wednesday by Tadamori Oshima, head of the LDP committee on Tohoku’s recovery from the 2011 disasters, could speed up decommissioning work while allowing Tokyo Electric Power Co. to focus on compensating those affected by the nuclear crisis and on its primary business, the official said.

Of the six reactors at Fukushima No. 1, Tepco is moving to dismantle No. 1 through 4, which were crippled by core meltdowns or hydrogen explosions in March 2011. Abe on Thursday urged Tepco to also scrap the No. 5 and 6 units, which didn’t suffer any major structural damage.

Under the plan proposed by Oshima, a former vice president of the LDP, Tepco employees engaged in cleanup efforts and decommissioning work at Fukushima No. 1 would be transferred to the new entity, which would be primarily funded by the government.

Observers, however, say the idea may face resistance from some quarters for its potential to confuse the responsibilities of Tepco and the government over the plant’s decommissioning.

The LDP committee is expected to compile a formal proposal based on Oshima’s plan in the near future. But it may also include other options, such as setting up a new government agency or an independent administrative body for the dismantling of Fukushima No. 1, the official said.