Public Pays for Fukushima Clean Up While Nuclear Industry Profits

Japan Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant March 31 2011

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 12 2013 (IPS)

Two years after Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the country faces 100 to 250 billion dollars in cleanup and compensation costs, tens of thousands of displaced people and widespread impacts of radiation.

The nuclear industry and its suppliers made billions from building and operating Fukushima’s six reactors, but it is the Japanese government and its citizens who are stuck with all the costly “fallout” of the disaster.

“People’s lives were destroyed and we will be paying trillions of yen in tax money because of the Fukushima disaster,” said Hisayo Takada, an energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan.

“The nuclear industry, other than Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co), has paid nothing as they are specially protected by the law,” Takada told IPS.

On Mar. 11, 2011, Japan experienced a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami that badly damaged Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Three of six reactors suffered a meltdown, and reactor unit four was damaged. The Fukushima accident has been rated at the highest level (7) of the International Atomic Energy Agency scale, the same as the Chernobyl accident.

A year after the disaster, Tepco was taken over by the Japanese government because it couldn’t afford the costs to get the damaged reactors under control. By June of 2012, Tepco had received nearly 50 billion dollars from the government.

The six reactors were designed by the U.S. company General Electric (GE). GE supplied the actual reactors for units one, two and six, while two Japanese companies Toshiba provided units three and five, and Hitachi unit four. These companies as well as other suppliers are exempted from liability or costs under Japanese law.

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Last week the Japanese govt injected $billions into Tepco, owners of the damaged Fukushima nuke plant that still poses a huge threat. Many more billions are needed to make it safe.

Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 6, 2011 (IPS)

The nuclear energy industry only exists thanks to what insurance experts call the “mother of all subsidies”, and the public is largely unaware that every nuclear power plant in the world has a strict cap on how much the industry might have to pay out in case of an accident.

In Canada, this liability cap is an astonishingly low 75 million dollars. In India, it is 110 million dollars and in Britain 220 million dollars. If there is an accident, governments – i.e. the public – are on the hook for all costs exceeding those caps.

Japan has a higher liability cap of 1.2 billion dollars, but that is not nearly enough for the estimated 25 to 150 billion dollars in decommissioning and liability costs for what is still an ongoing disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Seven weeks…

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Who Controls the Nuclear Control Agencies?

April 1986 disaster at the Chernobyla nuclear power plant in Ukraine

“There are few independent nuclear experts in the world. Everyone either works in the industry or used to and are now regulators.”

Canadian Government fired chief regulator for trying to improve safety standards — Greenpeace

By Stephen Leahy*

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 23, 2011 (Tierramérica)

As Japan struggles to confront a nuclear disaster that could be the worst in history, it seems clear that any discussion about the safety of nuclear energy should address the independence of regulatory agencies.

On Apr. 26, 1986 a series of explosions and fires at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine released radioactive fallout that spread over eastern and western Europe, particularly affecting Ukraine itself, Byelorussia (now Belarus) and Russia, all Soviet republics at the time.

Twenty-five years later, Chernobyl’s reactor number 4 continues to emit high levels of radioactivity even though it is buried under a thick but decaying layer of concrete.

Europe and the United States are trying to raise more than two billion dollars to build a permanent sarcophagus to contain the radiation.

The Chernobyl disaster is usually attributed to obsolete technology and the secrecy characteristic of the Soviet regime.

The accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was triggered by the damage resulting from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami on Mar. 11.

But “TEPCO doesn’t have the best record for safety or disclosure of information,” said Mycle Schneider, a Paris-based energy and nuclear policy analyst who also works in Japan.
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