Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

Further details emerged this week about the conditions faced by workers in the aftermath of the accidents at Fukushima Daiichi, and it was revealed TEPCO may pay $12.5 billion for the first efforts to clean up contamination in the surrounding countryside.

Recent developments related to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant severely damaged following last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan include:

Asahi: Government Tallying First Cleanup Tab for TEPCO

Quoting anonymous sources, the Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday that the Japanese government was preparing to charge TEPCO $12.5 billion for cleanup efforts in 2011 and 2012 resulting from airborne contamination from the plant. The cleanup money is in addition to $31 billion in compensation to nearby residents. A law passed last year requires TEPCO to pay for the cleanup. But the government is now the majority owner of TEPCO, and it remains unclear whether and to what extent taxpayer funds and power rate increases will pay for the charges. Some cleanup funding may come in the form of loans from the government's Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund.

Tsunami waters at Fukushima Daiichi. Source: TEPCOMany Workers Unaware of Risks Early in Crisis, Dosimeters Scarce

Revelations continued to emerge from a wide-ranging report by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission issued last week. In a survey of plant workers included in the report commissioned by the Japanese parliament, only 47 percent of TEPCO employees said they were informed of the danger the damaged reactors posed early in the crisis. Among contractors, 95 percent said they were not briefed, the Asahi reported.

The report faulted a number of TEPCO's responses to the crisis, with plant preparedness for emergencies among them. At the end of March 2011, weeks after the tsunami, 47 percent of TEPCO employees responding to the survey said a shortage of dosimeters meant only one device was provided for each group of workers. Eight percent said they worked without a dosimeter. Further, 28 percent of TEPCO employees responding to the survey and a higher percentage of contractors said they were never informed of their cumulative radiation doses.

Photo: Workers on a roof watch the tsunami flood plant grounds in this photo released by TEPCO July 9.

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