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Has TEPCO find a loophole

March 22, 2013


Decontamination law loophole?

Tepco snubs ¥10.5 billion cleanup tab




Tokyo Electric Power Co. is ¥10.55 billion in arrears to the Environment Ministry over work to decontaminate land around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, government officials said Friday.

The sum is part of a total ¥14.9 billion the ministry asked Tepco to pay by February, based on a special law on decontamination enacted after the March 2011 meltdowns. But its provisions do not clarify the extent to which the utility is obliged to pay back the money.

Tepco has not yet agreed to pay back the ¥10.55 billion, with one of the company’s officials saying it “cannot judge whether it is a demand based on the special law.”

“We will continue to demand that (Tepco) pay the bills,” Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara told a news conference Friday.

In November, the ministry demanded a combined ¥7.6 billion in decontamination costs through last August, but Tepco has only stumped up ¥1.7 billion for cleanup work the government has been directly in charge of.

The remaining ¥5.9 billion was used to subsidize work conducted by local governments and publicity-related expenses, but Tepco has yet to repay it.

The ministry then requested another ¥7.3 billion in February, for decontamination costs incurred between last September and November, but the utility has put a payment of ¥4.65 billion on hold.

The special law stipulates that Tepco will pay the costs for decontamination procedures. While the state initially pays for the work using taxpayer money, Tepco will ultimately be billed for the costs. However, indirect costs arising from the cleanup process are a gray area.

The law also calls on Tepco to make the payments swiftly after receiving a request. The ministry has continued to bill Tepco for the costs once the decontamination work is complete.

The Environment Ministry requested ¥199.7 billion for decontamination work in the supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 and ¥372.1 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget. It is seeking a whopping ¥497.8 billion in the budget for the next fiscal year, which starts April 1.

Separately Friday, Tepco agreed with the city of Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, home to its largest nuclear plant, to pay a spent nuclear fuel tax to the city for the next five years from fiscal 2013, which starts in April, the city said.

According to the city, revenue from the tax will mount to about ¥2.87 billion in the five years.

The tax, at ¥480 per kg, is a key revenue that the city can use at its discretion.


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