LDP to seek tax money for nuke storage

Kyodo

The Liberal Democratic Party plans to propose that public funds be used to build and manage “temporary” storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture for radioactive rubbish tainted by the nuclear disaster, party sources said.

The move is aimed at easing pressure on the finances of beleaguered Tokyo Electric Power Co. and persuading residents near the crippled plant to accept the storage sites, the sources said Saturday.

The facilities, scheduled to be built in the towns of Okuma, Futaba and Naraha, will cost several hundred billion yen. They are expected to begin storing soil and other waste in January 2015.

The Fukushima No. 1 power plant straddles Okuma and Futaba; Naraha hosts the Fukushima No. 2 plant.

Final disposal of the stored waste is supposed to occur outside Fukushima within 30 years, but a site hasn’t been chosen yet amid heavy opposition.

The LDP is set to call for the use of taxpayer money other than funds earmarked for Tohoku’s reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the sources said.

But some officials are cautious about the LDP’s plan because a law stipulating that Tepco will shoulder the expenses for the storage facilities and decontamination work will need to be revised.

The law says the government will initially pay for the storage facilities and decontamination work and later ask Tepco to reimburse it. The scheme is designed to prevent Tepco’s teetering finances from affecting the disposal work.

The utility, facing ballooning costs for compensation and for managing the radioactive water perpetually being created by cooling the plant’s melted reactors, is hoping the government will shoulder some of the cost of the decontamination work, since it has announced that it is going to take over the cleanup.

Some officials and LDP members say Tepco should cover the costs, blaming it completely for the disaster.

In Fukushima, about 140,000 evacuees have been rendered homeless by the disaster.