Public cost of Fukushima nuclear accident cleanup topped ¥4.2 trillion as of end of March

JIJI

The public cost of dealing with the aftermath of the March 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant topped ¥4.2 trillion by the end of fiscal 2015, it was learned Sunday.

The cumulative total at the end of last March, including costs for radioactive decontamination, reactor decommissioning and compensation payments to affected people and organizations, translate into about ¥33,000 per capita.

The public financial burden is expected to increase, with Tepco seeking further government assistance.

Jiji Press scrutinized the government’s special-account budgets through fiscal 2015 for the reconstruction of areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It summed up the amounts of executed budgets related to the nuclear disaster and additional electricity rates consumers and businesses were charged by Tepco and seven other regional power utilities to help finance compensation payments, among other costs.

According to the study, a total of ¥2.34 trillion was disbursed for decontamination of affected areas, disposal of contaminated waste and an interim storage facility for tainted soil. The expense was shouldered by the government, mainly through affiliated Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.

The costs for decontamination and tainted waste disposal will eventually be financed by the proceeds from the sale of Tepco shares held by the government-backed organization. The government guaranteed the loans provided by banks for the acquisition of Tepco shares, and if the lending becomes irrecoverable due to weakness of the Tepco stock price, tax revenue will be used to repay the loans.

The government estimates the proceeds from Tepco share sale at ¥2.5 trillion, but to generate the estimated gain, the Tepco stock price needs to trade at around ¥1,050, up sharply from current market levels of some ¥360.

In addition, the Environment Ministry expects that the cumulative total of decontamination and related costs could surpass the estimated share proceeds by the March 2017 end of the current fiscal year.

A total of ¥1.1 trillion will be used from the energy special account to finance the costs related to the interim storage facility for contaminated soil. The account mostly consists of revenue of the tax for the promotion of power resources development, which is included in electricity bills.

Elsewhere, the government spent ¥1.38 trillion on projects including the decommissioning of reactors at the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, checks on food for radioactive contamination and building a research and development facility.

Tepco and six other power utilities charged their customers at least ¥327 billion in electricity rate hikes after Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident. Moreover, consumers paid ¥219.3 billion or more for Tepco, chiefly to finance the maintenance of equipment to clean up radioactive water at the plant and the operation of call centers to deal with inquiries about compensation payments.