Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just as Expected, "National Government at the Forefront" of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Problems Is All Talk, Little Money, Relies Entirely on TEPCO


To win 2020 Olympic for Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared to the world that his government will be "at the forefront" to deal with problems at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Reading the article by Nikkei Shinbun about his most recent visit to the plant and comments from his ministers, it sure looks all talk, nothing but talk.

From Nikkei Shinbun (9/19/2013):

安倍晋三首相は19日、東京電力福島第1原子力発電所を視察し、広瀬直己東電社長に運転を停止している5、6号機の廃炉を決めるよう要請した。既に廃炉が決まっている1~4号機だけでなく福島第1原発全体を廃炉にすることで、汚染水問題など事故対策全体を加速させる。広瀬社長は年内に判断すると応じたが、受け入れる公算が大きい。

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on September 19 and requested TEPCO's President Naomi Hirose to decommission Reactors 5 and 6. By decommissioning the entire plant, not just Reactors 1 through 4, Prime Minister Abe hopes to accelerate the whole response to the accident, including the problems of contaminated water. President Hirose said he would decide within this year, but it is likely that he will agree to the request.

首相は広瀬社長との会談で(1)5、6号機の廃炉決定(2)廃炉に向けた安全対策を機動的に取れるように、現場の裁量で使える予算枠を確保(3)福島第1原発の地上タンクから漏れる汚染水の浄化に期限を設ける――の3点を求めた。

During the meeting with President Hirose, Prime Minister Abe demanded 1) decommissioning of Reactors 5 and 6; 2) allocating enough budget that can be used at the discretion of the plant management; 3) time limit on decontamination of contaminated water.

予算枠の確保を巡っては、東電は汚染水や廃炉の費用として計9600億円を引き当て済みだが、広瀬社長は「プラスして1兆円を確保していく」と応じた。汚染水の浄化期限に関しては「2014年度中に完了していく」と確約した。政府は汚染水対策での470億円の財政出動のうち150億円を浄化装置の増設に充てた。

As to the budgeting, TEPCO has already secured 960 billion yen [967 million US dollars] for countermeasures for contaminated water and decommissioning. President Hirose said his company will secure additional 1 trillion yen [1 billion US dollars, over 10 years]. As to the deadline for the treatment of contaminated water, he promised it would be complete by the end of the fiscal 2014 [that ends in March 2015]. The national government has allocated 15 billion yen [15 million US dollars] out of 47 billion yen [47 million US dollars] that the government will pay for the contaminated water countermeasures to build additional water treatment facility.

菅義偉官房長官は19日の記者会見で、廃炉要請に伴う東電支援スキームの見直しは「現時点で考えていない。現在のスキームの中で最善を尽くす」と述べた。原子力損害賠償支援機構を通じた東電の支援体制など現行の枠組みに沿って支援を進める考えを示した。

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during the press conference on September 19 that there was no plan to revise the support scheme for TEPCO due to the request for decommissioning [by the prime minister]. Suga said the government would do its best within the existing scheme, which includes Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund.

茂木敏充経済産業相は19日夜、都内で記者団に「まずは東電で資金を確保する努力をしていただきたい」と述べ、今回の件での追加支援は見送る考えを示した。

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi spoke to the press in Tokyo in the evening of September 19. He said, "We want TEPCO to make effort to secure the fund," indicating he is not going to allow additional monetary support this time.


The current support system via Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is only for paying the victims of the nuclear accident, and no money goes from the fund to deal with the accident. All the cost of decommissioning Reactors 1, 2, 3, 4 is being borne by TEPCO alone.

By declaring the decommissioning of Reactors 5 and 6 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, which are relatively new (operational since 1978 and 1979 respectively), TEPCO would have to immediately write them off on the asset side of the balance sheet, with the offsetting reduction in either the liabilities or shareholders' equity.

That would mean nothing to these politicians. While TEPCO somehow has to earn that money to deal with the accident and decommission, these politicians are fed by taxpayers' money. If Mr. Abe really thinks decommissioning the entire plant all at once will "accelerate the whole response to the accident", he's in a fantasy land.

An elite bureaucrat spokesman from now-abolished Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), which was under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said in a press conference in March 2011:

(About the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant not having enough food to eat, no blanket, no spare underwear) we feel sorry for the workers. But this nuclear accident, it is basically TEPCO's problem, not ours. So, no, we are not going to do anything about it as the government, like delivering necessities to the workers.


I was watching the press conference live. My jaw dropped. But judging by the reaction at that time among the ordinary Japanese in Japan, I was clearly alone in thinking this would be one of the rare times where the government could actually be useful.

Well, they couldn't even deliver decent food to the workers in March 2011. It's impossible for me to imagine they are capable of doing anything beyond food delivery, but they sure can talk.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

As wrote before, they are going to talk the coriums back into containment, let the leaking stop by saying so and the spent fuel bars will be talked into a safe storage.
If anyone dares to say otherwise, he will be going to jail due to the new great law that Abe is trying to push. This will stop all real information until 2020. After that Abe and his gang made enough money and will leave Japan in ruins with a sky high debt, and an old population with high numbers of cancers amoung the younger population.
They are just trying to suck out as much money as they can, before it's too late.

Anonymous said...

I hope the spokesman won't be employed at some disaster relief agency!
He would say: we feel sorry for the earthquake / tsunami / volcano eruption, but it's the people's problem; we aren't going to do anything about it.
How can one say such terrible things? Maybe as an excuse not to leave the comfort of his office…

Anonymous said...

@ anon 1:13,

After all Abe's disavowal of responsibility, and delivered with that characteristic cedar pollen allergy look of the macabre, what better way for Japan to say to the world, "Boycott everything Japanese.".

The workers are a caste problem, is it?

Anonymous said...

Japan government: this costs too much money so let's enjoy life and not think about Fukushima. The entire Japan to do sepuku.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Tepco will be able to charge its ratepayers for the cost of decommissioning ahead of schedule units 5 and 6 of the Fuku 1 plant.

Beppe

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Haku Mitsune would sing about this, but it's shure more funny to watch her streams than reading such news.
It's more hopeless every-day.

Very-sad

Vyse Legendaire said...

There are no words to describe....

Anonymous said...

Time for the rest of the world to treat Japan as the criminal pariah that it has become.

Boycott ALL Japanese exports.

In the big picture scheme of things it doesn't matter a damn if Japan is the largest holder of US securities or is the world's third largest economy. In a thousand years these things will be meaningless and yet the oceans will still be full of the radionuclides that Japan is spewing into them.

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