27 Octobre 2013
October 27, 2013
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The ruling Liberal Democratic Party plans to propose the government use public funds to build and manage temporary facilities to store radioactively contaminated soil and other waste resulting from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, party sources said Saturday.
The move is aimed at alleviating financial burdens on Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled plant, and winning the understanding of local residents who oppose construction of the facilities, by increasing the government's role, the sources said.
Interim storage facilities for radioactive waste are scheduled to be built in Okuma, Futaba and Naraha towns in Fukushima Prefecture at a cost of several hundred billion yen. The facilities are expected to start operations in January 2015.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba, while Naraha hosts the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, also run by the utility known as TEPCO.
Final disposal of the waste is supposed to occur at locations outside Fukushima Prefecture within 30 years of operations starting at the interim storage facilities, but the site for final disposal has yet to be decided.
The LDP is set to call for the use of government money other than funds earmarked for reconstruction of the areas hit hard by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear accident, the sources said.
However, some government officials are cautious about the LDP's plan because a law stipulating that TEPCO will shoulder expenses for the interim storage facilities and decontamination works would need to be revised.
Under the law, the government is to initially pay for the temporary facilities and decontamination work and later ask TEPCO to reimburse the costs. The scheme is designed to prevent TEPCO's financial condition from affecting work to dispose of contaminated soil and other waste.
The utility which faces ballooning costs for compensation and management of radioactively contaminated water at the Fukushima plant apparently hopes the government will shoulder some of the cost of the decontamination work.
Some government officials and LDP members say TEPCO in principle should cover the necessary costs as its plant caused the radioactive contamination. In Fukushima Prefecture, about 140,000 evacuees cannot return home due to the accident.
October 26, 2013
The government is considering covering the 1 to 2 trillion yen cost of constructing interim storage facilities for radioactive soil and other waste in Fukushima Prefecture, it has been learned.
The measure would be aimed at speeding up Fukushima's recovery, with the money likely to come from energy-related sources such as revenues from a tax to promote the development of power sources. The government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are set to debate the measure, possibly including it within next fiscal year's budget.
Ground quality tests are already being undertaken at potential construction sites, and it is hoped that the storage facilities will be completed and ready for use in 2015. A lack of sites to store radioactively-contaminated soil has been a factor in delaying decontamination work, so the completion of storage facilities is expected to help speed up Fukushima's recovery and the return of its residents.
According to the present plan, the government is to temporarily cover the costs of the facilities -- but the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is to pay the costs in the end. TEPCO is predicted to fall onto economic hardships, however, due to the increase in compensation payments that it must pay.
With the government permanently covering the costs, the new plan would ensure a payer for the storage facilities. By taking on the responsibility for the facilities itself, it is also hoped that the government would speed up the work of decontamination.
Drawing funds for this purpose from energy-related revenue sources would result in higher electricity prices, however -- and opposition in this regard could therefore possibly stall the plan.
Meanwhile, the government intends to have TEPCO continue to be responsible for covering decontamination-related costs.