3 Juin 2013
June 2, 2013
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Environment Ministry is considering filing a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co., seeking payment of about 16.5 billion yen in decontamination expenses since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, sources close to the matter said.
The unpaid amount includes expenses for decontamination work by the government near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant undertaken based on a special measures law to deal with radioactive contamination, as well as government subsidies allocated to local governments which conducted decontamination work, the sources said.
Under the law, the government is supposed to cover decontamination expenses first and ask TEPCO to reimburse the sum later. Although there is no deadline for the payment, TEPCO's failure to pay the expenses means that the government continues to use taxpayer money for decontamination projects.
If the court orders TEPCO to pay the decontamination costs, the utility will also have to pay interest. Therefore, the Environment Ministry believes that TEPCO will soon agree to the payment, the sources said, adding that the ministry is now discussing the matter with the Justice Ministry.
The Environment Ministry has asked TEPCO to pay the decontamination costs every three months after finalizing the sum following the completion of decontamination projects.
Of about 21.1 billion yen that the ministry requested the utility pay, TEPCO only agreed to pay 4.4 billion yen.
TEPCO plans to soon pay an additional 250 million yen, but it remains unwilling at present to pay the remaining 16.5 billion yen, saying it takes time to confirm relevant documents.
The government has booked about 1.3 trillion yen in decontamination costs by fiscal 2013. The sum that the Environment Ministry asked TEPCO to pay is only part of the overall decontamination projects conducted in fiscal 2011.
When each local government closes its book for fiscal 2012, the sum will likely top 100 billion yen, the sources said.
TEPCO told Kyodo News that it responds appropriately in accordance with the special measures law on radioactive materials but declined to elaborate on the specific conditions of the payment.