Paying for the Pain

Posted by By at 13 May, at 11 : 13 AM Print

Financial relief is in the works for thousands of people in Japan forced to evacuate their homes in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Plant.

Japan’s government has given the green light to help underwrite some of the costs, and pass some off to all operators of nuclear plants in a plan of shared financial burden. Tokyo Electric Power Company, (TEPCO) the owners of Fukushima will have to come up with the lion’s share.

TEPCO anticipates damage claims running into the billions and is working to take on a nearly 25 billion dollar loan in addition to, the $620 million it is paying out in initial claims to thousands of homeowners.

Under the plan, which needs approval from parliament, utility companies would also pitch in money for a relief fund. A newly created government agency would collect and distribute the cash.

Banri Kaieda, Japan’s economy and trade minister denied that its a bailout for TEPCO. Quoted in newspapers, Kaieda said, “We want to avoid big changes in the electricity bills and contain (the public burden) as much as possible.”

TEPCO President Mastaku Shimizu expects to have the plan in place soon. In a written statement, Shimizu said, “Under this support scheme, while receiving support from the government, we will prepare to compensate those who are suffering in a fair and prompt manner.”

It is widely expected that the amount of compensation will reach much higher than estimates following Fukushima, which is considered the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Fukushima was all but destroyed during an earthquake and tsunami in March.

Meanwhile at the nuclear plant, another disturbing discovery, one of the reactors is heavily damaged, much more so than TEPCO’s engineers initially  thought.

It appears that it will take much longer for TEPCO to bring the plant under control by early next year, with the discovery of a heavily damaged reactor, which is beyond the scope of what the company imagined.

Arnie Gunderson, a leading expert on nuclear power, has said for weeks that TEPCO has downplayed the damage to its reactors and fuel pools. You can see Arnie’s latest Fairewinds Associates video here on Rock The Capital.

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