TOPTepco refuses to pay Fukushima cleanup costs

Tepco refuses to pay Fukushima cleanup costs

By Alec Jordan

Tokyo Electric Power Co has refused to pay decontamination costs in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Tepco was unwilling to repay more than 30 billion yen funneled into removing radioactive fallout on tainted land and said it would only deal with costs directly involved in the cleanup of the embattled plant.

The plant operator was due to reimburse cleanup costs initially funded by the government under a special measures law on radioactive waste. The bill includes costs that are related to public relations as well as R&D.

The Environment Ministry, which is in charge of decontaminating highly-polluted areas around the plant, has sought 40.4 billion yen ($415 million).

So far, the utility has paid 6.7 billion yen and has made it clear it would not pay more. The payment covers direct decontamination work such as washing road surfaces and removing tainted soil.

“The company reached a conclusion that it is too difficult to pay,” Tepco said in a statement in February.

The government has allocated 1.3 trillion yen for decontamination, of which about 470 billion yen has been used.

But with Tepco still expected to pay a total of 3.8 trillion yen in damages to affected residents, the cash-strapped company might not be able to cover the decontamination bill.

Some Japanese lawmakers within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are calling on the government to pick up the cleanup tab. However, the Finance Ministry is suggesting for the utility to pay the decontamination costs out of its revenues from increasing electricity rates.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image of temporary storage site for Fukushima waste: Global2000/Flickr