The government estimate of the overall costs for handling the aftermath of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has grown considerably, with a previous estimate of 11 trillion yen updated to 21.5 trillion yen at the end of last year, the second time the estimate has received a large hike. The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about the growing costs.
Question: What is the breakdown of the cost increases?
Answer: As the decommissioning schedule of the Fukushima reactors has proceeded, and with the removal of the melted nuclear fuel debris set to possibly begin in 2021, the earlier estimate of 2 trillion yen for decommissioning costs was seen as insufficient and has been newly estimated at 8 trillion yen. Expected compensation payments have risen from 5.4 trillion yen to 7.9 trillion yen as damage to commercial, industrial and agricultural businesses from the disaster has lingered. Costs for decontamination work are estimated to increase from 2.5 trillion yen to 4 trillion yen due to higher personnel and materials costs. Mid-term storage sites for contaminated material are to grow in cost from 1.1 trillion yen to 1.6 trillion yen due to factors including safety measures during transport.
Q: Will the costs continue to increase?
A: The location and amount of the nuclear fuel debris are unknown, and the method of its removal is undecided. The new 8 trillion yen figure is just based on the costs of decommissioning the Three Mile Island nuclear plant that experienced an accident in the United States in 1979, and so costs may continue to grow. (Answers by Daisuke Oka, Business News Department)