TEPCO to Focus on Joint Ventures for Rehab

What company in their right mind would want to hook up with a zombie company so they could leech 21.5 trillion yen from them?

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Tokyo, March 22 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Wednesday released an outline of its new rehabilitation plan focusing on joint ventures with other companies, to find a way out of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.
But with other power companies cautious about industry realignment and business integration, TEPCO is expected to continue to face difficulties under the new plan.
TEPCO’s current rehabilitation plan, adopted in January 2014, has reached a dead end, with no prospects for a restart of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which the company viewed as a key step for improving profitability.
TEPCO needs to secure as much as 21.5 trillion yen for its response to the triple meltdown at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, including compensation for affected people and businesses and work to decommission the disaster-stricken reactors at the plant.
In the circumstances, the government plans to keep the company effectively under state control for the time being. Its involvement with TEPCO will be reviewed in the fiscal year that begins in April 2019.

Japanese Govt. and TEPCO Found Liable by Court for Fukushima Disaster

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People pray for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Japan govt & Tokyo power firm liable for ‘preventable’ Fukushima meltdown – court

People pray for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

Negligence by the government and Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) contributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, a court in Japan has ruled, saying the catastrophe could have been avoided, and marking the first time the state has been held liable.

The district court in Maebashi, north of Tokyo, said the government and plant operator were to blame for failing to prepare anti-tsunami measures.

The judge awarded a total of 38.55 million yen (US$340,000) in damages to some 62 plaintiffs who evacuated to Gunma Prefecture after the disaster began to loom large at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported

A group of 137 plaintiffs had argued the authorities and TEPCO failed to prevent the triple meltdown at the plant, and demanded 11 million yen ($97,108) each in compensation, the newspaper said, adding that the court accepted most of the arguments about the dramatic lack of anti-tsunami measures.

The plaintiffs highlighted the fact that in May 2008, three years before the disaster, plant operator TEPCO received an estimate of a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters that could hit the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun reported. That apocalyptic forecast came true, with a wave around that height hitting the nuclear power plant in 2011, triggering the reactor meltdowns. A huge tsunami knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes.

If the utility had installed emergency diesel electric generators on higher ground, the measure could have prevented the nuclear disaster, the court ruled on Friday.

Citing a government estimate released in July 2002, the court said that “TEPCO was capable of foreseeing several months after (the estimate) that a large tsunami posed a risk to the facility and could possibly flood its premises and damage safety equipment, such as the backup power generators,” the Japan Times reported

Meanwhile, in its long-term estimate, unveiled in 2002, the government said that the probability of an earthquake striking in the Japan Trench off the coast of northeastern Japan, including the sea area off the Fukushima No. 1 plant, was “about 20 percent within 30 years,” the Asahi Shimbun paper said

The lawyers for the plaintiffs welcomed the Friday court ruling, saying “It was extremely significant that (a court) has acknowledged the responsibility of the state,” Kyodo news agency reported

Around 30 similar suits have been filed in at least 20 district courts across Japan, lawyers said.

However, Takehiro Matsuta, one of the plaintiffs who evacuated from the city of Koriyama in central Fukushima Prefecture, called the damages “disappointing.” His child, who was three years old at the time of the nuclear disaster, received no compensation whatsoever.

My wife and I are struggling every day, but it’s my child who suffers the most,” the 38-year-old father said, as cited by the Japan Times. 

The ruling was one big step for my family, for those who evacuated from Fukushima to Gunma, and for tens of thousands of earthquake victims nationwide,” he said.

Both the government and TEPCO argued that the long-term estimate and the May 2008 tsunami study were not credible enough, continuing to insist that the massive tsunami was unexpected.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, told a press conference on Friday that the officials “will consider how to respond after carefully examining the ruling.”

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an earthquake and a killer tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the Fukushima nuclear disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.

https://www.rt.com/news/381154-tepco-government-liable-fukushima/

 

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Supporters of plaintiffs seeking compensation for Fukushima evacuees unfurl banners in front of the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture announcing the court’s decision Friday.


In first, government and Tepco found liable for Fukushima disaster

Maebashi, Gunma Pref. – A court in Japan has ruled for the first time that the government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were responsible for failing to take preventive measures against the March 11, 2011, quake-triggered tsunami that killed scores and forced tens of thousands from their homes.

Friday’s stunning ruling by the Maebashi District Court was the first to recognize negligence by the state and Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. It called the massive tsunami predictable and said the major nuclear disaster could have been avoided.

The district court ordered the two to pay damages totaling ¥38.55 million to 62 of 137 plaintiffs from 45 households located near the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown caused by the tsunami, awarding ¥70,000 to ¥3.5 million in compensation to each plaintiff.

The plaintiffs had demanded the state and Tepco pay compensation of ¥11 million each — a total of about ¥1.5 billion — over the loss of local infrastructure and psychological stress they were subjected to after being forced to relocate to unfamiliar surroundings.

Citing a government estimate released in July 2002, the court said in the ruling that “Tepco was capable of foreseeing several months after (the estimate) that a large tsunami posed a risk to the facility and could possibly flood its premises and damage safety equipment, such as the backup power generators.”

It pointed out that the state should have ordered Tepco to take bolstered preventive measures, and criticized the utility for prioritizing costs over safety.

Of the plaintiffs, 76 who lived in evacuation zones were forced to move, while another 61 evacuated voluntarily even though their houses were located outside evacuation zones. The ruling was the first of 30 similar class-action suits filed nationwide involving more than 10,000 plaintiffs.

About 80,000 citizens who had lived in Fukushima reportedly left the prefecture after the March 2011 disaster.

I believe that the ruling saying both the government and Tepco were equally responsible is an important judgment,” Katsuyoshi Suzuki, the lead lawyer for the defense said at a news conference following the ruling. “But thinking about the psychological distress (the plaintiffs faced) after being forced to evacuate from their homes, I think the amount is not enough.”

Takehiro Matsuta, 38, one of the plaintiffs who evacuated from the city of Koriyama, hailed the ruling, but called the damages “disappointing.”

The ruling was one big step for my family, for those who evacuated from Fukushima to Gunma, and for tens of thousands of earthquake victims nationwide,” he said.

But called the payout “disappointing,” as his child, who was 3 years old at the time of the nuclear disaster, was not granted compensation. “My wife and I are struggling everyday, but it’s my child who suffers the most.”

The group of lawyers for the plaintiffs, which have had suits filed since September 2011, claimed that the Fukushima disaster resulted in serious human rights violations by forcing victims to relocate after the crisis caused widespread environmental damage.

The plaintiffs argued that Tepco could have prevented the damage if it had implemented measures, including the building of breakwaters, based on its 2008 tsunami trial calculation that showed waves of over 10 meters could hit the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Those calculations took into account the 2002 estimate by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which concluded that there was a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 earthquake rocking areas off Fukushima within 30 years.

However, the government and Tepco have argued that the massive tsunami was unexpected, claiming that there were different opinions among scholars over the long-term evaluation. Both attacked the credibility of the study, calling it unscientific.

The government also objected to the ruling, saying that because it had no authority to force Tepco to take such preventive measures as argued by the plaintiffs, it bore no responsibility.

According to the defense, a number of other class suits are inching closer to rulings, with one in the city of Chiba scheduled for Sept. 22 and another in the city of Fukushima involving 4,000 plaintiffs expected by the year’s end.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/17/national/crime-legal/first-government-tepco-found-liable-fukushima-disaster/#.WMwqEqKmnIV

Court Decision in 137 Evacuees’ Fukushima Suit: State and TEPCO Must Compensate

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Court: State and TEPCO must compensate

A court in Japan has ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay damages to evacuees of the 2011 nuclear accident.
The ruling is the first among similar suits filed across the country to order compensation.

137 evacuees mainly living in Gunma Prefecture northwest of Tokyo, filed the suit. They were seeking damages for emotional distress suffered after losing their livelihoods.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170317_23/

Court decision expected in Fukushima damages suit

A district court in eastern Japan will announce its decision Friday on a damages lawsuit filed by evacuees of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident against the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company.

137 people, mainly evacuees living in Gunma Prefecture, filed the suit with the Maebashi District Court, seeking compensation worth about 13 million dollars. The ruling will be the first damages suit of its kind in Japan.

The plaintiffs include those who fled evacuation zones and other parts of Fukushima Prefecture after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. They say they suffered emotional distress after losing their livelihoods. They are seeking about 97,000 dollars each.

The points of contention include whether the Japanese government and plant operator TEPCO could have foreseen the major tsunami and prevented the damage, as well as whether the compensation TEPCO is paying evacuees is appropriate.

The plaintiffs claim the tsunami was predictable, citing a 2002 prediction of a massive earthquake by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

But the government and TEPCO say many researchers voiced differing views, and an installation of tide embankments based on the prediction would not have prevented the damage.

The plaintiffs say the compensation they received is insufficient. The government and TEPCO say it is appropriate.

More than 12,000 people have filed similar suits in 18 prefectures.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170317_10/

Only 6% of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Compensation Paid by TEPCO

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The operator of the crippled nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture has only paid 6 percent of the compensation sought by municipalities in connection with the 2011 nuclear crisis, according to a recent prefectural tally.

The delay in payments to the 12 municipalities, designated by the government as evacuation zones, highlights the continuing challenge to their reconstruction efforts six years after the nuclear disaster, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

The tally found that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. had by the end of 2016 paid around 2.6 billion yen ($22.5 million) of the 43.3 billion yen demanded by the 12 local governments.

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/463020.html

SIX YEARS AFTER: TEPCO’s ‘casino in desert’ looms in evacuated Fukushima town

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The lights of 750 housing units for Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees shine in the foreground in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, as the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant glimmers in the back.

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–As Kazutoshi Mabuchi drove down a mountain road here in the darkness, carefully avoiding a wild boar crossing his path, a cluster of orange-lit housing units suddenly came into view under the night sky.

These dwellings accommodate about 750 employees of Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which Okuma co-hosts.

It looks like a casino that popped up in the desert out of nowhere,” said Mabuchi, 71, as he patrolled the town.

Mabuchi could see a cafeteria where some TEPCO employees were dining while watching TV.

All 11,000 residents of Okuma were forced to evacuate after the nuclear disaster unfolded at the plant, triggered by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The town has been almost entirely empty since, with 96 percent of it designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” due to the high radiation levels. That means it is unknown if and when the evacuees will ever be able to return to their former homes to live. Barricades are put up on the roads as well as in front of the houses in the zone to prevent entry.

The TEPCO housing units are located in Okuma’s Ogawara district, which is excluded from the difficult-to-return zone. Classified as a restricted residence area due to relatively lower doses of radiation compared with most parts of the town, evacuees can visit Ogawara freely, but they cannot stay overnight.

Mabuchi is from Ogawara, and he, like all the other 360 people in the district, is still evacuated.

He drives four and a half hours each week to Okuma from Chiba Prefecture, where he moved to live with his daughter’s family after the triple meltdown. He and two others work on a shift to patrol Okuma for three days, a task commissioned by the town government since the autumn of 2012.

Local officials hope to get the residence restriction designation for Osuma lifted by March 2019 by carrying out extensive decontamination operations there.

But it remains unclear whether evacuees will return even if the area’s radiation readings drop enough to allow it to be habitable again.

A survey by the town shows that only one in three former residents is willing to return. The damaged roofs of the houses in the district remain covered with plastic sheets. Rice paddies and fields are strewn with numerous traces of holes dug up by wild boars.

Construction of the TEPCO housing units in Ogawara began in October 2015. The government granted a permit to the utility as a special case, saying the company is the “essential party in leading the recovery and rebuilding efforts” in Fukushima Prefecture.

The 750 single-person units were all occupied by the end of 2016 after TEPCO workers began moving in to them last July.

The utility says in its literature that the company “expects its employees residing there to contribute to rebuilding the town and reassurance of the people.”

In addition to our objective of grappling with the decommissioning process squarely, we wanted to make visible our determination to help the rebuilding of local communities,” said Yoshiyuki Ishizaki, head of the company’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters, about the housing project.

Many of the employees are shuttled by bus between the sprawling nuclear complex and their units, wearing the same uniform and eating the same food.

It is like we are on a conveyer belt, and our houses are part of the plant,” said one of the employees living there, referring to the absence of signs of a normal life, such as children playing on the ground and parents hurrying back home from their workplace.

There were more than 10 TEPCO dorms along the coastal area of Fukushima Prefecture before the nuclear disaster, which struck 40 years after the plant’s first reactor went online.

Locals affectionately called the occupants of the dorms “Toden-san” (TEPCO-san) before the accident. TEPCO employees were active participants in local events, such as cleanup efforts on holidays, sports meets and festivals, to fit in with their host communities.

With the nuclear accident, however, that community life completely disappeared.

I am not going to return to Ogawara to live,” Mabuchi said while taking a break from the patrol.

He had his house razed in January. But he has carried on with the patrol for his neighbors’ sake.

I am hoping that the town will continue to exist just for the people who want to go back home,” he said.

As the sky clouded over, the only lights visible in the dark came from the lights in the TEPCO lodgings.

This is no longer Ogawara,” he said, and slid into his car.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703100075.html

2 TEPCO affiliates get tax exemption approval under disaster aid system

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Two Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) affiliates received Fukushima gubernatorial approval for tax breaks designed to help local businesses affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it has been learned.

The firms applied for the local tax exemptions with the Fukushima Prefectural Government. Under the disaster relief tax break system, the amounts exempted are covered by the reconstruction budget. However, in the case of the TEPCO affiliates, it means reconstruction funds will flow to firms associated with the very company that caused the nuclear disaster.

“It is wrong to give them (the TEPCO affiliates) preferential treatment from the standpoint of public sentiment,” one critic said.

The two companies are Kandenko Co., an engineering and construction company based in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, and Chuo Ward-based Tokyo Energy & Systems Inc., which does maintenance and other work. Both firms have been engaged in projects to decommission the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

As of March 2016, TEPCO was the biggest shareholder in both firms, with a 46 percent stake in Kandenko and a 24 percent stake in Tokyo Energy & Systems. Six of Kandenko’s board members are from TEPCO, while five TEPCO officials were transferred to Tokyo Energy & Systems to become board members. Furthermore, one executive doubles as a board member at both TEPCO and Tokyo Energy & Systems.

The tax-exempt system is based on the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima enacted in the wake of the nuclear disaster. The law covers corporations and sole proprietors that had business offices in areas subject to the post-meltdown evacuation orders. Because a small number of local residents are expected to return to their hometowns near the nuclear plant, the system is aimed at attracting people to these municipalities by promoting business activity, including decommissioning work, and securing jobs for them.

Kandenko and Tokyo Energy & Systems both have offices in the region covered by the system. If they make fresh capital investments and apply with the Fukushima Prefectural Government for tax exemptions within five years from the time when evacuation orders were lifted, they will receive a partial corporate enterprise tax exemption, and a 100 percent real estate acquisition tax exemption. Both taxes are prefectural, and exempted amounts are covered by subsidies based on the special tax allocation system for disaster reconstruction funded by a dedicated tax, among other means.

According to a Fukushima Prefectural Government tax affairs department official, 436 corporations and individuals have received written approval for the program, 178 of which have been exempted from paying prefectural taxes totaling 345 million yen. The tax affairs department admitted to issuing approvals to the two TEPCO affiliates, adding, “If applications meet conditions, even TEPCO affiliates are not excluded from access to the system.”

A Kandenko spokesperson told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We went through confirmation procedures in line with the intent of the act on special measures. As of this moment, we have received no exemption.” Tokyo Energy & Systems built a branch office in an evacuation zone in 2016. Asked whether the company has been granted tax exemptions, a spokesperson said, “We will refrain from replying.” A TEPCO spokesperson said, “We are not in a position to comment.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170307/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

TEPCO blunders raise doubts on ability as nuke plant operator

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Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, center, is briefed by the chief of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the No. 6 reactor building in February, while TEPCO President Naomi Hirose, right, looks on.

 

Recent revelations concerning Tokyo Electric Power Co. raised fundamental doubts about whether the utility has done sufficient soul-searching over the accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.

The revelations concern the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, where the company is seeking to restart the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors as soon as possible. In one instance, a key facility has been found to be lacking an adequate level of earthquake resistance.

TEPCO’s latest blunders emerged during the final stages of the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening of the two reactors, based on stricter safety standards introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The NRA summoned TEPCO President Naomi Hirose. It should come as no surprise that the NRA’s chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, instructed Hirose to re-submit documents in the application for the restarts after ensuring their accuracy as a matter of his responsibility.

The new standards are nothing but the NRA’s minimum requirements for safe reactor operations.

Utilities have the primary responsibility for keeping track of the latest scientific knowledge and improving the safety of nuclear power plants.

A company that fails to pay appropriate attention to developments it finds inconvenient or cannot make swift decisions when faced with such a situation is not qualified to operate a nuclear reactor.

The NRA summoned Hirose over the earthquake resistance of a key building that is designed to serve as an on-site emergency response headquarters at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in the event of a severe accident.

TEPCO had said the building could withstand an earthquake with a maximum intensity of seven on the Japanese seismic scale. In the process of the NRA’s screening, however, the company acknowledged that it may not be able to withstand even half of the assumed strongest seismic shaking.

TEPCO said it learned about the inadequate level of earthquake resistance in 2014. The utility said the information was not shared within the company due to poor communications among different divisions. But that explanation should not be allowed to let it off the hook.

TEPCO also failed to disclose until recently other pieces of information about the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, such as the possibility that an earthquake could cause liquefaction of the ground under a seawall built to protect the plant from tsunami.

NRA officials have criticized TEPCO for its reluctance to disclose problems in a straightforward manner.

Local governments around the plant are similarly aghast.

Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who has been cautious about endorsing TEPCO’s plan to restart the reactors, has stated that he does not trust the utility.

TEPCO also appears to be losing the trust of Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai, who had shown some understanding to the idea of restarts. He said anxiety about TEPCO’s nature has “heightened” due to the latest revelations, combined with the disclosure last year that the company tried to cover up the core meltdowns at the Fukushima plant.

There is now the possibility that I may not give my consent” to the restarts, he said.

The 2007 Chuetsu offshore earthquake destroyed an administrative building at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Learning lessons from the disaster, TEPCO started constructing base-isolated buildings designed to serve as on-site emergency response headquarters at its nuclear power plants.

During the 2011 nuclear disaster, such a building at the Fukushima No. 1 plant was used as the on-site command post.

But the NRA’s screenings of reactors operated by other utilities had revealed that there are cases where buildings constructed with base isolation technology do not meet the new safety standards.

Critics say TEPCO is not eager to incorporate new findings.

It has been repeatedly pointed out that TEPCO first needs to thoroughly reform its organization and corporate culture, among other aspects.

We feel compelled to state again that the company must confront its problems.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703040025.html