The cost of taking nuclear safety measures at the nation’s 10 major power companies has reached ¥2.2 trillion, the latest tally said Saturday, up 1.5-fold from a year ago.
Most of the costs involve complying with the new safety standards introduced in July last year as a result of the Fukushima disaster triggered at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s old Fukushima No. 1 plant by the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami.
With some companies planning additional safety measures, the costs are expected to grow further, industry sources said.
The utilities comprise all of the regional power providers and Japan Atomic Power Co., but exclude Okinawa Electric Power Co., which has no reactors.
The data cover the costs that the utilities have incurred since the Fukushima disaster, but only partially include Tepco’s costs, which date back to the powerful earthquake that struck central Japan in 2007.
Before restarting, all reactors must comply with the new safety regime set up by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. This includes installing equipment and building facilities to help the powerplants withstand major quakes and tsunami.
The costs have ballooned from the utilities’ initial estimates because some of them are being asked to do more by the NRA, the sources said.
Tepco applied for NRA safety screenings of the No. 6 and 7 reactors at the giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant in Niigata last September. The beleaguered utility saw safety costs grow to ¥470 billion from ¥320 billion estimated in July 2013 as it added plans to install filtered vents, as required by the new standards, and enhanced measures for fires. Filtered vents will reduce the danger of releasing radioactive steam from reactor containment vessels during severe nuclear accidents.
Chubu Electric Power Co., which applied for an NRA safety screening for the No. 4 reactor at its Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, now expects to spend ¥300 billion on safety measures, compared with ¥150 billion as of July last year.
The measures include building a 22-meter breakwater and reinforcing pipes to prepare for a potential earthquake in the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast.
Kansai Electric Power Co.’s expenses are now estimated at ¥297.5 billion, up slightly from ¥285 billion the year before. Kepco has applied for NRA screenings for reactors 3 and 4 at its Oi nuclear plant and units 3 and 4 at its Takahama plant, both in Fukui Prefecture.
But Kansai Electric may face a surge in safety costs because it plans to make stronger earthquake projections than currently available.
Tohoku Electric Power Co., which kept its safety costs unchanged, said they will eventually rise.
Utilities are likely to face pressure to engage in more cost-cutting because the nuclear safety expenditures are likely to force them to hike prices.