Industry ministry to create new fund to decommission Fukushima No. 1 plant reactors

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The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is poised to set up a system under which Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will accumulate the funds necessary to decommission reactors at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant with the help of a government-backed organization, sources close to the ministry said.

Under the system, money that TEPCO accumulates through cost-cutting and other measures will be provided to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which will use the funds when necessary.

The move is aimed at strengthening the central government’s involvement in decommissioning the reactors at the tsunami-ravaged power station and securing as much money as possible to cover the costs.

TEPCO has so far raised a total of 2 trillion yen to decommission reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 complex. However, several trillion yen more is highly likely to be needed to decommission the reactors.

The planned scheme will allow the NDF to manage the decommissioning plan and funds to reduce the financial burden on consumers as much as possible, and stably secure funds for decommissioning the reactors at the plant. TEPCO and its subsidiaries will be required to raise as much money as possible to decommission the reactors.

The ministry is considering a plan to add the costs of dismantling reactors at the crippled Fukushima plant to the fees that new, smaller-scale power companies pay for using TEPCO’s power cables. However, consumers are critical of the plan, which would force them to shoulder an extra burden for the decommissioning of the reactors. As such, the ministry intends to secure as much money as possible for reactor decommissioning by strengthening the national government’s involvement and reforming TEPCO’s management.

Once the estimated costs of scrapping the Fukushima No. 1 plant reactors are finalized, TEPCO will be required to set aside a massive amount of funds for such work, possibly falling in a state of capital deficit in which its liabilities exceed its assets. The ministry will therefore take legal measures to allow TEPCO to post its liabilities in installments.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161101/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

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