Tepco seeks additional state aid

03 June 2013

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has requested more than ¥600 billion ($6 billion) in additional government funds to help pay compensation claims resulting from the accident at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The company earlier warned that costs related to clean-up efforts of low-level waste from the Fukushima accident could double the previous liability estimate. The initial estimate of ¥5 trillion ($62.6 billion), made in April 2012, included the costs of compensation, decontamination of highly-contaminated areas and storage of wastes, but excluded the costs for decontamination of low-level radiation areas and temporary storage facilities for waste.

UNSCEAR findings

In its latest report, the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) concluded that "radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers."

It said that the only observable health effects from the Fukushima accident stem from the stresses of evacuation and unwarranted fear of radiation.

The latest request for ¥666.26 billion ($6.7 billion) in government financial support through the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund brings the total amount requested by Tepco to ¥3.79 trillion ($38 billion).

The company said that more than half of the latest request - some ¥370 billion ($3.7 billion) - resulted from the re-evaluation of the evacuation zone around the damaged plant and a re-examination of the estimated amount "regarding compensation for mental damages, loss or depreciation of valuables such as housing lands and buildings."

Tepco has also asked for about ¥43 billion ($431 million) due to a higher estimate of compensation coming from damages to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, as well as the food processing and distribution industries. This, it said, also resulted from "harmful rumours" about the possible health effects of consuming food products from the region near the damaged power plant. As restrictions on the transport of foodstuffs from the Fukushima area is set to continue, an additional ¥240 billion ($2.4 billion) has been requested to cover for the further compensation claims resulting from this.

Some ¥13 billion ($130 million) was also requested for the increase in compensation for mental damages to those who require nursing care.

Tepco originally requested financial support of ¥890.91 billion ($8.9 billion) in October 2011, seven months after a massive earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown of three of its reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. This is the fourth additional request it has made to the government.

In May 2012, the Japanese government approved amendments to Tepco's ten-year special business plan which effectively puts it, at least temporarily, under state control. Under the amendments, the government provided Tepco with ¥1 trillion ($12.5 billion) in state funds in return for a 51% stake in the company.

In addition to the clean-up and compensation costs, Tepco has already set aside ¥1 trillion ($12.5 billion) of its own capital to decommission the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. However, the company has warned that these costs could also rise significantly.

Tepco earlier warned that if the costs were met by doubling the amount of government bond issuance, "our company will become an entity solely for the purpose of dealing with post-accident issues." It said that it would become difficult for it to raise money from the private sector, "so we will have to rely on the government for the financing of all our business."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News