Law to make Tepco retain money for decommissioning costs

JIJI

The government plans to legally oblige Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to retain money to cover costs for decommissioning its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Jiji Press has learned.

A draft of a bill to revise the law on the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. states that business operators that caused nuclear accidents are obliged to deposit funds to cover related costs at the organization every fiscal year, informed sources said Friday.

By clarifying Tepco’s duty to build up funds by law, the government aims to steadily implement work to decommission the Tepco plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to submit the amendment to this year’s ordinary session of the Diet, slated to start next Friday.

The draft says the amount of money to be put aside will be decided by the organization and should be approved by the industry minister each fiscal year.

The deposited funds can be withdrawn based on a plan compiled jointly by the organization and the business operators that caused nuclear accidents and will be approved by the minister.

The revised law would allow the industry ministry and the organization to conduct on-site inspections if needed.

Tepco is set to decommission all six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Unprecedentedly, nuclear fuel melted at three of the six reactors.

If work to remove the melted fuel is fully launched, annual decommissioning costs are expected to balloon to several hundreds of billions of yen from the current ¥80 billion ($700 million), with the total costs seen amounting to ¥8 trillion.

The ministry is planning to have Tepco bear all the decommissioning costs.