Tuesday, March 8, 2016

TEPCO Externalizes Costs - Japan Taxpayers Pay for Fukushima Disaster

The Fukushima accident was catastrophic and the costs are being externalized, although TEPCO (and GE) bear direct responsibility for the disaster. In north east Honshu, property owned by generations of families was devalued or made uninhabitable by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. As of December 2014, six municipalities contaminated by the March 2011 explosions remain closed because of radiation contamination and more than 120,000 people are still living in temporary shelters, many of which are located in areas with radiation hot spots exceeding the standard of 5 millisieverts a year set by the Soviet Union for the Chernobyl evacuation zone.[i] Decontamination has been limited and subject to set-backs by shoddy workmanship[ii] and by re-contamination occurring with wind and rain. Local municipalities have had often had to shoulder decontamination processes and costs. Some areas, such as forests, aquifers, and oceans, simply cannot be decontaminated and both short and long term waste storage facilities are lacking.[iii] Livelihoods and lives have been severely disrupted.

The Fukushima disaster ruined the livelihoods of all those forced to evacuate because of nuclear contamination. Fisherman and farmers lost livelihoods that had sustained generations of their families. Older people forced to evacuate died at a higher than ordinary rate (2.4 times typical rate) because of the stress of evacuation.[iv] People remaining in contaminated areas face increased health risks. Incidents of thyroid cancer and nodules in children have risen significantly among those living in areas contaminated by Fukushima fallout, although the official response is the cancers are unconnected to Fukushima children’s unprotected exposure to Iodine-131.[v]
The Japanese Diet investigation assigned human blame for the nuclear disaster to TEPCO and Japan’s nuclear regulators.[vi] Between 2011 and 2014 there were no criminal indictments against former TEPCO execs over the Fukushima disaster, despite a documented failure to protect against a tsunami of the size that swamped the Daiichi plant after the earthquake on March 11 2011.[vii] In July 2015, a citizens’ panel over-ruled prosecutors who declined to bring criminal charges against three TEPCO executives for failing to prevent the disaster.[viii] The citizens’ ruling will force the executives to appear in court to provide evidence, but is not expected to result in convictions because of prosecutors’ unwillingness to press charges. Justice is still forthcoming and is unlikely to be achieved given deliberately cultivated uncertainties about the scale of the disaster and degree of initial and ongoing contamination. 
Meanwhile, TEPCO has "recovered" financially, as costs have been externalized to the Japanese public:

Robin Harding Japan taxpayers foot $100B bill for Fukushima disaster, CNBC, Monday, 7 Mar 2016 | http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/07/japan-taxpayers-foot-100bn-bill-for-fukushima-disaster.html

The nuclear disaster has cost Japanese taxpayers almost $100bn despite government claims Tokyo Electric is footing the bill, according to calculations by the Financial Times...

The Financial Times used Ritsumeikan University professor Kenichi Oshima's estimate that the disaster has cost Y13.3tn ($118bn) to date relative to the loss of equity value for Tepco shareholders.

...Japan's government gives no single figure for the cost of the disaster, but Mr Oshima estimates the biggest cost to date is compensation to businesses and evacuees of Y6.2tn, followed by decontamination of the Fukushima area at Y3.5tn, and decommissioning of the reactor site at Y2.2tn....

But one way to judge Tepco's contribution is its share price, which should reflect past losses, as well as any levies the market expects in the future. Compared with March 10 2011, the day before the disaster, Tepco's equity has lost Y2.6tn in value. Debtholders have not suffered losses.

That implies Tepco has borne slightly less than 20 per cent of the total cost, with taxpayers picking up the other Y10.7tn. The figure is rough, and ignores the cost of shutting down all Japan's nuclear reactors, so it is likely to understate both the total cost and the proportion paid by the public.

Excepted from Majia Nadesan, Crisis Communication, Liberal Democracy and Ecological Sustainability: The Threat of Financial and Energy Complexes in the Twenty-First Century

[i] “More Radioactive Materials,” NHK, December 21, 2014, accessed December 22, 2014, http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141221_16.html.

[ii] Tamiyuki Kihara and Miki Aoki, “Crooked Cleanup: Photos, Videos Show Contractors Lied in Decontamination Reports,” The Asahi Shimbun, January 17, 2013, accessed January 18, 2013, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201301170063.

[iii] John Boyd, “Fukushima Health Risks Underestimated: Japanese Government Says Nuclear Energy Is Still Needed, But Environmentalists Are Wary of Another Fukushima,” Al Jazeera, November 15, 2014, accessed November 16, 2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/11/will-japan-reopen-nuclear-plants-fukushima-20141111112653560643.html.

[iv] Yuri Oiwa, “Death Rates Spike Among Elderly Evacuees From Fukushima,” The Asahi Shimbun, January 11, 2013, accessed January 12, 2013, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201301110086.

[v] Yuri Oiwa, “Fukushima Finds 16 New Cases of Thyroid Cancer in Young People,” The Asahi Shimbun, May 19, 2015, accessed May 20, 2015, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201505190041.

[vi] The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Japan National Diet, The Official Report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (2012), accessed January 2, 2013, http://naiic.go.jp/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/NAIIC_report_hi_res2.pdf.

[vii] “Once Again, No Indictments Against Former TEPCO Execs Over Fukushima Disaster,” The Asahi Shimbun, January 23, 2015, accessed January 24, 2015, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501230075.

[viii] Kentaro Hamada and Osamu Tsukimori, “Tokyo Electric Executives to Be Charged Over Fukushima Nuclear Disaster,” Reuters, July 31, 2015, accessed August 1, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/31/us-japan-nuclear-prosecution-idUSKCN0Q50FJ20150731.

FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI continues to belch, although emissions are down today from the last few days:


1 comment:

  1. Just like the banks in america have recovered and homelessness underemployment poverty child poverty illness unemployment crime are at highest levels ever in japan and the united states


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.