Japan’s Nuclear Energy Model Falls Apart

In a series of recent articles justification for Japan’s reactor restarts were given. When all of these concepts are taken together they show a very dysfunctional system that has existed for decades. Only after the Fukushima disaster did the systemic flaws in the plan come to public attention.

“It will be impossible for our business to turn a profit (if we cannot restart the reactors),” Hirose said at a news conference on July 2.” – TEPCO President Naomi Hirose 

 

Since the disaster at the Fukushima plant in 2011, only two reactors have been allowed to resume operations in an effort to head off electricity shortages, but the government and supporters of nuclear power say it is critical to the economy that Japan return to relatively cheap nuclear power rather than relying on costly natural gas and coal imports.” – New York Times

Because creditor banks may stop providing loans if the utility reports a loss once again for this fiscal year, TEPCO plans to return to the black this fiscal year by restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.” Asahi Shimbun 

The Japanese government is also admitting that most of these nuclear power companies are drastically behind on saving up for future decommissioning costs. The earlier than expected permanent shutdown of reactors now puts those companies in a very difficult position. They don’t have the proper funds to decommission and no longer have profits from reactor operations. These were business decisions to put aside as little as they could get away with exacerbated by unexpected extended shutdowns in some cases. These poor business decisions and risk taking resulted in a problem the power companies now want to shove onto consumers to pay for.

Of the companies that have the biggest deficits in their funds KEPCO and TEPCO top the list:

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the stricken plant, has the biggest overall shortfall among the utilities–76.5 billion yen for 13 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, Fukushima No. 2 plant and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.

Kansai Electric had the next biggest shortage of 40.4 billion yen for seven reactors, followed by Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s shortage of 14.3 billion yen for four reactors and Chubu Electric Power Co.’s shortage of 11.5 billion yen for three reactors.”

Then there is Mihama, after 42 years of operation KEPCO’s decommissioning fund for the reactor is still 9.5 billion yen short.

Looming decommissioning debt due to bad business decisions.
Decontamination work has been ended in many towns and isn’t working as promised much of the time.
160,000 people remain evacuated while the government and TEPCO refuse to compensate them for losses to homes and businesses.
TEPCO has admitted they are going to need more than they have in reserve to deal with the Fukushima Daiichi plant site.
Japan has no permanent nuclear waste storage site for reactor fuel or the remains of Fukushima Daiichi

The financial and energy sectors want a bail out by the people or permission to continue with the poor decision making and risky business behaviors that brought about the problem in the first place. The Abe administration is willing to give them the latter, the next election may see if the public has enough resolve to change directions.

 

 

 

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