Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Decon Bubble in Fukushima: Contractors Charging US$13,000 Per House

Yet another fine example of how a government is so good at misallocating the resource. By pledging to pour hundreds of billions of yen (probably in trillions) into "decontaminating" Fukushima, the Japanese government has already spawned a brand-new industry of residential decontamination. Who are the industry participants? Cleaners, painters, just about anyone who has a high-pressure washer.

Some are apparently charging 1 million yen (US$13,000) to hose down your house. As you can see in the video in the previous post, their idea of "decontamination" looks little more than year-end cleanup. Power washing seems to somehow turn cleanup into "decontamination".

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/19/2011):


As decontamination work gets underway in Fukushima Prefecture to remove radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, so do troubles with the decontamination contractors. Some are asking 1 million yen [US$13,000] to decontaminate a house.


Disputes over the cost may increase in the future, and there are some who point out that there should be a guideline specifying what constitutes the standard decontamination work and the cost associated with it.


Regarding decontamination, some municipalities like Fukushima City have the city-wide decontamination plan and focus on particular areas to decontaminate. On the other hand, there are cases where the residents hire contractors for decontamination on their own. There are also active sales promotion by the contractors.


Disputes mostly rise from the latter cases. The Fukushima prefectural department in charge of decontamination has received a complaint from a resident who was presented with a bill for 1 million yen by the contractor who did the decontamination work for his residence. The department says it has received similar complaints.


Fukushima City has received inquiries from the residents about the cost of decontamination. One resident who hired the contractor to decontaminate for 200,000 yen [US$2,600] asked the city whether or not this cost would be paid by either the national government or TEPCO.


There were no contractors specialized in decontaminating residences, until now. Many cleaning companies and painters are entering the field. One building management company in Minami Soma City says, "If we calculate the same way as the cleaning of a personal residence, 200,000 to 300,000 yen per residence would be appropriate."

Hmmm. Decontamination is not the same as cleaning, really. But from what I've heard directly from people who have witnessed the so-called "decontamination" in Fukushima and what I've seen on video, they are one and the same.

Blasting the roof and wall with power washer after more than 7 months may not even be enough to dislodge radioactive cesium, as Professor Yamauchi has analyzed. Even if it does, it simply moves cesium to somewhere else, like the neighbor's yard or onto the public road. Then, particularly in the case of Fukushima, the contaminated mountains and forests surrounding the cities and towns will supply radioactive cesium and other nuclides over time with rain and wind.

But no matter. Money is there to be made, as near-endless supply of money flowing from the national government to "decontaminate" Fukushima and make people stay.

If blasting with power washer does decontaminate, I am pretty sure Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians have done that long time ago.

Prime Minister Noda, whom you can see in the video in the previous post, won the leadership election thanks to his oratorical skills and NHK misreporting on the votes available for Banri Kaieda, looks absolutely clueless. Just as his predecessor, the whole thing looks way over his head.


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know how the donations from all over the world are being used. Surely people specifically donated to the earthquake disaster not the nuclear disaster?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this is an example of the government misallocating the resources, more like simple con men using people's desperation to make a quick buck. I'm sure companies with little more than a telephone and a fancy name including concepts like "clean future" or "new Fukushima" are starting to pop up everywhere, hoping to catch part of the decontamination money, though.

Anonymous said...

This is why there was talk of making Geiger counters illegal.
If you were a 'decontaminator' would you want one of those anywhere near your contract?

Anonymous said...

I would not use the term "con man". This is just simply business practice. If people know there are buckets of gold, they will milk it until the last drip.

Think public sector projects (highways).

Houses are big and small - I can easily see some "con man" claiming that the roof is too steep, too contaminated so it cost more etc.

Legitimate claim or milking the system?

Maju said...

This would not happen in Cuba!

Anonymous said...

Of course those are con man. They know they cannot decontaminate. The fact that our societies are run by con men (oops, meant to say, brilliant politicians and bankers) does not excuse the lesser kind.

Anonymous said...

"Of course those are con man. They know they cannot decontaminate"

Truly so.

I guess no work - if you do not participate...

Bruce Hayden said...

Wherever there is misery and suffering the cockroaches always show up to make a buck. Perhaps "decontamination" means something else in the Japanese dictionary? Now we should call taking a bath decontamination? It just gets more surreal by the day....

Anonymous said...

These con man showed up because the Japanese government sanctioned and approved the decontamination effort (i.e. decontamination is possible).

It is them making a buck or someone else making a buck - like it or not, Japanese government decided to ok the thing. Waste of money in my opinion.

Viola said...

That's a matter of contracts. Normally, a goal should be included. For example. if I call a plumber I won't pay him until his work is done. So, people should include a decontamination factor and a time factor. 0,01 less contamination after one month? Well, try again for free...

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