Tepco overpaying to procure goods, services: contract-screening panel

Kyodo

An in-house Tepco panel has found that the financially troubled utility paid two to five times more than reasonable levels in buying goods and services to run its operations.

The panel’s investigation found that Tokyo Electric Power Co. came up with a quote of ¥21 million for work at one of its nuclear power plants that the panel said could be reduced by ¥10 million.

It also estimated that work for laying underground cables could be reduced by as much as 33 percent by opening the bid to more businesses.

The panel even found a case where a quote for daily wages of an employee was inflated to ¥49,000 from an original estimate of ¥12,000 as a result of farming out the work to multiple layers of subcontractors.

The panel, made up of experts hired from outside, is tasked with investigating contracts worth ¥1 billion or more at the utility as it struggles to contain the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant catastrophe. Since October 2012, the panel has helped achieve cost cuts of around ¥17 billion, according to Tepco.

“As the utility has received government funds and asked the public to share the burden, it needs to slim down even further,” panel Chairman Sakon Uda said.

Under its restructuring plan, Tepco aims to achieve ¥4.82 trillion in cost reductions between fiscal 2013 and 2022 through such measures as opening at least 60 percent of procurement to competitive bidding.

Waste site referendum

NARAHA, Fukushima Pref.
JIJI

A group of Fukushima residents in the fallout-hit town of Naraha on Friday requested that a local ordinance be drafted to hold a referendum on accepting interim nuclear waste storage in the municipality.

Such a facility would be a disincentive for young residents to return, said Keiichi Matsumoto, who is leading the group. Matsumoto, 65, stressed that residents should be given an opportunity to make a decision on the issue.

The group issued the request directly to Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto. The mayor will convene a municipal assembly within 20 days and submit a draft ordinance to enable the proposed vote along with his own opinion on the ordinance.

Last month, the group presented a petition for such an ordinance to the municipal board of election. The board confirmed there were 2,151 valid signatures, far more than the 126 (one-50th of the voting population) required for an ordinance.

Naraha is one of the municipalities the central government has asked to host interim facilities for storing radioactive soil and other waste.

The Naraha government is ready to consider accepting an interim facility for low-level radioactive waste but not high-level contaminated soil.