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
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.”
- 1 Al Pacino on suffering from depression: 'It can last and it's terrifying'
- 2 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Perez Hilton apologises for publishing Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
Jennifer Lawrence 'nude photo hacker' claims there are hundreds more celebrity images to come
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say singer's representatives
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...
Main Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Biology Teacher to A Level - Female...
£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...