Fukushima Disaster To Be Dumped On Taxpayers

rsz_1218319-the-simpsons-homer-and-his-devil-and-angelAs the costs for the disaster response escalate, the Japanese government has been looking for a way to deal with this reality. In 2012 plans were established to partially nationalize TEPCO for a short period of time, inject taxpayer cash, make TEPCO profitable and then sell the government shares back to TEPCO. This very fragile plan was dependent on TEPCO being able to restart their reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa. The logic was that the income from that large nuclear plant complex could fund the disaster response at the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Estimates for this plan said they would need to restart those reactors by 2014 in order for this to work. That did not happen. None of TEPCO’s reactors have been able to restart and none have a likely scenario for this in the near future. At the same time costs are now being realized for the decommissioning of the disaster site. Enough of the planning is roughly in place to cause the cost estimates to skyrocket. Costs are also expected to go up from there as plans solidify around how to do the dangerous and highly technical work.

The fragile plans are now in pieces.

The new government plan to deal with the disaster is to make a “good TEPCO” and a “bad TEPCO”. Good TEPCO keeps the non nuclear business divisions and other assets that still make money. Bad TEPCO gets the Fukushima Daiichi disaster site and becomes owned by the government to deal with. Essentially making it the taxpayer’s burden. Good TEPCO walks away unscathed and without responsibility for their man made disaster. In addition to the split, the government wants to find some form of shared corporate operation for Kashiwazaki Kariwa. The general sentiment of the public is that they don’t trust TEPCO to run a nuclear plant. The government hopes farming it out to other nuclear power utilities in Japan would somehow give the public more confidence. Under this plan, TEPCO would apparently reap the profits from the facility. They did not clarify if these funds would go to the Fukushima disaster or to “good TEPCO”.

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