Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe Expected to Skyrocket to $201 Billion

The total cost of cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 that left 19,000 people dead has nearly doubled the previous estimate at more than 22.6 trillion yen ($201 billion).

In 2013, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry estimated the overall cost of wrapping up the disaster at about 11 trillion yen ($97.9 billion), including compensation to those who were forced to flee and lost their homes, radiation decontamination and for decommissioning the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Reuters reported.

Due to loss of power and cooling, three reactors melted down at the plant, which is operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, also known as TEPCO, following a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

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The catastrophe also caused explosions and a large amount of radiation was released, forcing more than 160,000 people to evacuate, many of them never to see their homes again.

According to sources who have seen documents from the ministry outlining the latest estimate, compensation payments will jump to 8 trillion yen ($69 billion) from 5.4 trillion yen ($47 billion) and decontamination costs will double at around 5 trillion yen ($43 billion) from 2.5 trillion yen ($21 billion).

Several additional trillion yen will be required to decommission the reactors and deal with radioactive water at the plant with an earlier estimate of 2 trillion yen ($17 billion), the South China Morning Post reported.

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The ministry is currently in discussions over how to find a solution to the crisis, including how much it is likely to cost and who should pay for it.

Along with the cost of building interim radioactive waste storage facilities, the total cost is expected to be more than 20 trillion yen, sources said. Meanwhile, it may take up to 30 years to get back the 9 trillion yen through payments from TEPCO.

The company admitted on Monday that electricity consumers would have to pay a percentage of  clean-up costs through higher bills, BBC reported.

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This is essentially a tax on the public to pay the debt of a private electricity utility.

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