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TEPCO refuses to reimburse ¥20.1 billion in claims from Tohoku

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Out of ¥53.1 billion in expenses incurred by six prefectures in the Tohoku region in response to the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, TEPCO has still not agreed to reimburse ¥20.1 billion, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The prefectures have resorted or will resort to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures to compel TEPCO to pay, but taxpayers may end up footing the bill in the end.

Different interpretations

Regarding compensation for damage caused by nuclear power plants, the government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation released preliminary guidance in August 2011 on what expenses TEPCO should reimburse local governments for.

This included the cost of damage to water and sewer services contaminated by radioactive material, and the cost of supporting victims on TEPCO’s behalf.

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However, the guidance included a section stating that “depending on circumstances, additional expenses may be recognized as damage that should be reimbursed.” This spurred Fukushima Prefecture, where the nuclear power plant is located, and other prefectures to request compensation from TEPCO for various expenses incurred in responding to the disaster.

Fukushima Prefecture has so far demanded ¥37.1 billion from TEPCO.

The company paid ¥20.9 billion for expenses including the relocation of a prefectural high school and support for the reopening of small and medium-sized businesses, but has refused to pay for the salaries of prefectural government employees of the contamination response section established after the disaster. It has also refused to pay for such costs as ad campaigns intended to repair the image of the tourism industry, which has been damaged by the nuclear disaster.

Neighboring Yamagata Prefecture, which accepted a large number of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture, had requested ¥1.1 billion as of last September. It has received reimbursement for such things as radiation inspections of agricultural and livestock products and the salaries of additional teachers in response to the influx of evacuated children, but this figure is less than one-third of the total request.

Miyagi Prefecture has only reached agreement on roughly ¥1.7 billion, about half of its request. Last March, Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures appealed to the nation’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation for ADR. According to an official of Miyagi Prefecture, “the settlement will take some more time.”

Akita and Aomori prefectures have been denied 80 percent to 90 percent of their requests to cover expenses such as the production of ads to promote tourism and subsidies to purchase radiation measurement equipment. They have also applied for ADR, and Fukushima Prefecture intends to pursue this approach soon.

Iwate Prefecture has received an additional ¥256.7 million through ADR, but has not agreed on close to ¥900 million in other expenses yet.

The prefectural governments have made expenditures from their general budgets for the disaster response expenses, and explained to members of their assemblies that “expenses would be billed to TEPCO and offset as income at a later date.” However, as unsettled claims increase, the costs are becoming a burden on the prefectures.

Municipalities in the six Tohoku prefectures, as well as Chiba and Gunma prefectures and elsewhere outside Tohoku, have made similar compensation claims to TEPCO, but the two sides are far from agreement over payments.

A TEPCO spokesperson told The Yomiuri Shimbun: “We are processing and compensating claims for damage that meet the appraisal standards. For other expenses, we are making appropriate decisions as we consult with relevant parties about their circumstances.”

It is likely, however, that the different sides will fail to agree even through ADR.

The prefectures can fight on through civil lawsuits, but if they lose, both the legal expenses and disaster response expenses will have to be paid through taxpayer money

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002812484

March 24, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , ,

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