Pacific Money

Fukushima Decontamination and Cleanup Will Cost $50 Billion

The latest figure is nearly five times more than the central government has budgeted.

By J. T. Quigley for

In another blow to recovery efforts in the prefecture hit hardest by the 3/11 tsunami and nuclear meltdown, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have estimated the cost of decontamination and cleanup to be more than $50 billion. The central Japanese government has earmarked only $11 billion in aid to the struggling region.

“The group has estimated that the decontamination in the no-entry zones will be at around $20 billion, while the other surrounding areas will cost another $31 billion,” said the Japan Daily Press. “The estimates are based on the unit costs that the government provided as well as information collected from the affected municipalities. It also includes the expenses that will be incurred in the removal, transportation and storage of radioactive waste like the contaminated soil and water.”

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Fukushima Daiichi plant operator, has received scathing criticism from inside and outside of Japan for its slow decontamination and clean-up efforts, which have been plagued by setbacks. On Tuesday, TEPCO came under fire for yet another misstep when the power company admitted that radioactive water was leaking from the crippled No. 1 reactor into the sea.

“The admission came after the utility announced June 19 that it had detected increased levels of radioactive substances in monitoring wells on the ocean side of the hobbled plant – a discovery it had sat on since May 31,” reported the Asahi Shimbun. “It also knew months earlier before the confirmation that the wells where the radioactivity was detected were fluctuating in sync with tide levels.”

An independent study in Fukushima Prefecture, administered by Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, painted yet another bleak picture for the area’s beleaguered residents. It found that in 33 of the prefecture’s 43 districts, radiation levels remained higher than the government’s one millisievert per year maximum.

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“In areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where decontamination has been carried out on an experimental basis, radiation levels remain 10 to 60 times higher than the official limit,” NHK stated. “The Environment Ministry says decontamination had only been conducted in about 3 percent of residential areas in the evacuation zone as of the end of March.”