Japan says TEPCO Fukushima cleanup reimbursement delayed

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TOKYO (AP) — Reimbursement of government funding of more than 10 trillion yen ($68 billion) for cleanup and compensation for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has been delayed, the Japanese government said.

The audit board said in a report on Monday that the delay stemmed from technical difficulties and the deteriorating financial condition of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings. He said the whole process could take more than 40 years.

The nuclear plant suffered a triple meltdown in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, spewing radiation that contaminated nearby areas and forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

Funding for the first 11 years of the disaster has already accounted for nearly half of TEPCO’s total estimate of a 22 trillion yen ($150 billion) cost for the decades-long project.

The audit committee said that in April the government provided 10.2 trillion yen ($70 billion) in interest-free loans to TEPCO for cleaning up the plant, decontaminating its surroundings and cleaning up the plant. compensation for those affected by the disaster.

The government paid for the initial costs of compensation with money borrowed from financial institutions. TEPCO pays these debts out of its revenues, including electricity bills.

According to the Audit Commission, the government raised its funding limit to 13.5 trillion yen ($92 billion) from 9 trillion yen ($61 billion) in anticipation of higher costs. The cleanup costs are financed by government bonds, so increases or delays add to the public debt.

TEPCO’s mandatory repayments were reduced to 40 billion yen ($270 million) per year from 70 billion yen ($470 million) per year. In the worst case, it could take TEPCO up to 42 years to fully repay the costs, the Audit Council said, citing its own estimate.

Assessing the damage and details of melted debris inside reactors is technically daunting and dozens of lawsuits could increase the amount of compensation required.

TEPCO faces other problems in addition to its burden of dismantling destroyed plants and paying compensation.

The expected start-ups of two of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in northern Japan have been delayed by technical and safety problems. TEPCO has therefore restarted coal-fired power plants to meet demand. Rising fuel prices are an additional burden.

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