Fukushima cleanup estimated at $50 billion, five times the amount initially predicted by TEPCO.

The decontamination work and clean-up following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster could cost as much as $50 billion, just under  five times the amount set aside by the Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company). Recent data published by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology revealed that the government’s initial predictions over the cost of the decontamination of the plant in Fukushima prefecture and other areas affected by the resultant radiation were far below the actual figures.

The research group included in their data a breakdown of where the money will be spent. According to the groups predictions, $20 billion will be required for the clean-up and decontamination of the no-entry zones, or areas of Fukushima directly affected by the disaster. In addition to this, another $31 billion will be required to supplement the clean-up of the surrounding radiation-hit areas.. The group’s research was collected using information provided by the affected municipalities of Japan, as well as cost-per-unit details provided by the government, and includes additional anticipated costs such as the removal and storage of radioactive waste, such as soil and water. At this stage, it is difficult to see how the government and TEPCO’s initial predictions of $11 billion will be sufficient for such a task. Indeed, many have been keen to criticise the government’s clean-up efforts thus far, labelling them as slow and ill-implemented. Numerous setbacks, such as power cuts and water leakages, have delayed the decontamination process to such a point that reports suggest that as of March 2013, a mere 3 per cent of the residential areas in the no-entry zones had been decontaminated. Radiation levels in the areas directly nearby the disaster site remain at 10 to 60 times higher than the allowable level.

With its limited budget, the government is being forced to seriously reconsider its priorities regarding where the decontamination budget should be diverted to. Many have suggested that, rather than continuing to spend money on the on-going decontamination of the affected areas, this new data should be used to review the current decontamination programs and instead focus on helping the nuclear evacuees of the Fukushima zone to rebuild their lives.

Sources include: Japan Today, The Japan Daily Press

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