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Friday 18 April 2014

Japan Fukushima panel proposals include Tepco breakup: source

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (2nd L), as they stand near a tank (C, with railings painted red and blue) which is being dismantled after leaking contaminated water, during his inspection tour to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Pool
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (2nd R), wearing protective suit and mask, is briefed about tanks containing radioactive water by Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant chief Akira Ono (2nd L), as they stand near a tank (C, with railings painted red and blue) which is being dismantled after leaking contaminated water, during his inspection tour to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Pool

A Japanese ruling party panel will recommend proposals for handling the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant that include breaking up the facility's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, a person familiar with the process said today.

The task force of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party favors reorganizing Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, by creating a unit within the company to handle the key functions of decommissioning the reactors and cleaning up massive amounts of toxic water, the source told Reuters.

But in the proposals to be made to Abe as soon as next week, the panel will also list the options of breaking that unit off from the listed utility giant or hiving it off as a government-affiliated independent administrative agency, the source said.

The panel will recommend "creating a clear and realistic organization" for Fukushima operations, he said.

Ideas for reorganizing Tepco have been circulating for months aimed at helping the utility in its continuing struggle to come to grips with the huge water problem, even as it has fallen behind on its decontamination efforts and prepares to begin removing fuel rods from one of the crippled Fukushima reactors.

Abe has vowed the government will take a prominent role in addressing the 2 1/2-year-old Fukushima crisis, the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The government aims to compile measures by around mid-November that will clarify the public role in tackling the Fukushima crisis, a government source said separately.

The amount of taxpayer money to be spent on Fukushima is a matter of fierce debate.

An existing special tax for reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima facility will not be enough to cover the expected increase in costs for cleanup and contamination, the government source said. Some in the government want to increase the public burden, but the Finance Ministry is insisting that further spending should come from higher electricity rates.

 

Reuters

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