With Fukushima nuclear plant still leaking, Japan clean-up bill soars to $50bn

Many are sceptical that government-led effort will make area habitable again

Tokyo

Japanese researchers say the cost of cleaning up from the Fukushima nuclear disaster could top $50bn (£32.6bn), more than four times the amount allocated by the government.

The figure does not include compensation for those affected by the explosion and the subsequent fallout, or the multibillion-dollar price tag for decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which the government and regulators say will take at least 40 years to complete.

Three of the plant’s six reactors went into meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami that struck off Japan’s north-east coast on 11 March 2011. The meltdowns forced over 100,000 people to flee the contaminated zone around the plant, while tens of thousands more have since left the Fukushima area voluntarily. The tsunami is known to have killed more than 18,000 people, yet no one is officially listed as having died as a result of radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Workers at the plant said that they had spotted steam rising from one of the reactor buildings for the third time this week. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the plant, said it had not been able to establish where it was coming from and was investigating the possibility that it was a rainwater leak.

On Monday, Tepco admitted for the first time that radiation is leaking into the Pacific, further complicating the clean-up operation and contradicting its earlier claims that contaminated groundwater had been contained before it had reached the ocean. The company faced severe criticism over the fact that it had sat on an internal report that revealed the groundwater leak for several days.

The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, which was established in the aftermath of the disaster, said earlier this month that he believed radioactive material had contaminating the sea close to the plant since the accident occurred

Japan’s government has allocated about $11bn (£7bn) to decontaminate the zone. Most of the money is being paid to contractors who are using power hoses and diggers to scour away dust and topsoil from the most contaminated areas, but experts from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology warn the total cost of decontaminating the evacuation zone will be about $20bn (£13bn), with another $30bn (£19.6bn) for areas further away.

Many are sceptical that the government-led clean-up effort will make the area habitable again, or that evacuees will move back. “It doesn’t matter what the government says, we’ll never go home. Most of us accept that,” says Yukiko Kameya, 68, who fled from Futaba town, next to the plant.

Tepco has yet to pay most refugees full compensation for the loss of their homes and other assets.

“The government should study the costs before deciding whether to complete decontamination or reallocate the money to help people rebuild their lives,” researcher Junko Nakanishi told state broadcaster NHK.

Tepco has received an estimated 3.5 trillion yen in public money since the disaster began. Last year, the government took majority control of the utility, allowing it to continue as a limited company with shares traded on the stock exchange.

Many observers believe the compensation process will drag on for years, adding to the final bill for the disaster. “The victims of this disaster often had large houses, rice fields, livestock and land and most had to move into small urban apartments or temporary housing,” says Yasushi Tadano, a Tokyo-based lawyer who is helping to sue Tepco. “The amount of compensation being offered is totally insufficient.” 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker