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New tactics from TEPCO to get Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP reopening approval

Japan’s Tepco weighs retiring some reactors at massive plant
Dismantling one or more units geared to easing local opposition to resuming operations
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When fully operational, Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility is the largest nuclear power plant in the world.
August 24, 2019
TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings is considering decommissioning one or more of the seven reactors at a key nuclear power plant in northern Japan, Nikkei has learned, as it attempts to ease community pushback against restarting it.
Tepco will not aim to reactivate all of the No. 1 through No. 5 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture — meltdown-hit Fukushima Prefecture’s western neighbor. It will instead pick at least one of them to dismantle after restarting the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, as approved by the central government. Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa is expected to convey that intent to Masahiro Sakurai, mayor of the city of Kashiwazaki, in meetings on Monday.
The plant — the world’s largest when fully operational — is undergoing separate checks led by the prefectural government, leaving the time frame for a restart unclear.
The utility hopes that offering a plan for decommissioning down the road, as Sakurai has demanded, will help win over locals for its efforts to restart the two greenlit reactors, an important step in improving its financial health.
Tepco decided in late July to retire all its remaining reactors in Fukushima Prefecture on top of the ongoing decommissioning of disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi, the site of the 2011 meltdown resulting from a massive earthquake and tsunami. Coming on the heels of July’s move, the utility judged that issues of manpower and finance would preclude immediately moving to dismantle parts of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.
In June 2017, Sakurai asked that Tepco present a plan for dismantling at least one of reactors No. 1 through No. 5 within two years as a condition for restarting No. 6 and No. 7. Tepco has missed that deadline. Restarting the two reactors, which passed central-government safety inspections in December 2017, would likely create an easier environment for tackling the problem.
Tepco aims to shoulder the costs of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and paying out compensation. An outflow of customers on its capital-area home turf has left it in worsening financial straits. It hopes for relief from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, where each reactor it restarts is expected to provide a roughly 100 billion yen ($939 million) shot in the arm per year.
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September 1, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tepco toughens stance toward nuclear disaster damages settlement

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Plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking damages compensation over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown crisis walk toward the Tokyo District Court on Aug. 2.
Aug 11, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has become significantly more reluctant since last year to accept a government body’s recommendations for a settlement of damages claims by people affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, government officials and lawyers involved said.
The company’s tougher stance in negotiating out-of-court compensation settlements could force those affected to resort to lengthy and costly legal actions.
 
Lawyers representing residents of Fukushima say some have given up on taking their claims to court due to legal costs, after Tepco rejected the body’s settlement proposals.
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the government established the dispute resolution body to broker settlements between Tepco and people seeking compensation.
Three nuclear reactors at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 plant suffered meltdowns, which led to the contamination of wide areas of Fukushima Prefecture.
According to the government, more than 31,000 people who evacuated from their homes in Fukushima are still living outside the prefecture.
In the process, called alternative dispute resolution, the body proposes settlement terms based on government guidelines regarding the types of damages and costs eligible for compensation.
Tepco said in 2014 it would respect the body’s reconciliation proposals even though the company is under no legal obligation to do so.
In 2018, the body terminated 49 settlement proposals due to Tepco’s refusal to accept them, including nine cases brought by employees of the power company and their relatives, its officials said. The cases involved at least 19,000 residents near the plant, they said.
The number was a significant increase from 61 in the four years through 2017. All of those during the four-year period were cases in which Tepco employees or their family members sought compensation. In many of the rejected cases, Tepco refused to pay damages because the company saw the recommended compensation as unjustifiable under the government guidelines, the officials said.
The officials said the body decided to discontinue the resolution processes partly to encourage residents to consider legal action.
One of the lawyers representing Fukushima residents said, “Tepco may be concerned that uniformly compensating residents according to settlement proposals would lead to a revision of the government guidelines to its disadvantage.”

August 12, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO bears responsibility for decommissioning over generations

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant
July 29, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has announced that it will decommission all four reactors at its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant.
The decision indicates the landscape of nuclear energy in Japan is entering an age of mass decommissioning.
TEPCO plans to work concurrently to scrap a total of 10 nuclear reactors, including all six at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the site of the 2011 disaster. The task will be almost unparalleled and unprecedented in the world in terms of its scale.
TEPCO should fulfill its momentous duties in undertaking the task to help rebuild disaster-stricken communities of Fukushima Prefecture.
It took TEPCO an entire year to make the latest decision after the utility said last year it would consider the decommissioning option. That is enough evidence there are high barriers to be surmounted.
One difficulty consists in ensuring the availability of workers.
A staff of 3,600 is currently working to scrap the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where four reactors went crippled. Work to grasp the full picture of the reactor interiors, where nuclear fuel melted down, remains in a trial-and-error stage and is facing extremely rough going.
The latest decision means the Fukushima No. 2 plant, a logistic support base for those efforts, will itself be an additional site of decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials said they have largely figured out how the work will be done. We are left to wonder, however, how they plan to get all the necessary, highly skilled workers.
The task should be undertaken cautiously and steadily so there will be no accidents.
While it is believed it takes about 30 years to decommission a typical nuclear reactor, TEPCO officials said it will likely take more than 40 years to scrap all the reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant because the work cannot be done on all four reactors there in one continuous period.
That is about the same span of time that someone spends working for a company from entrance as a new hire through retirement age. The efforts will straddle generations.
TEPCO will be required to keep its staff highly motivated and to overcome any difficulties responsibly during all that time.
While the scrapping work will only start after specific plans for it have been approved by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, solutions have yet to be decided for many anticipated problems.
The four reactors of the Fukushima No. 2 plant contain about 10,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies. TEPCO plans to have them stored temporarily on the grounds of the nuclear plant before having them taken out of Fukushima Prefecture.
But where exactly they will be taken “will be studied in the years to come,” said Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of TEPCO Holdings Inc.
Some rules remain to be determined for the disposal of radioactive waste, of which more than 50,000 tons are expected to be produced.
Decommissioning of nuclear reactors is a challenge that faces all major electric utilities.
Decisions have been made to scrap 21 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, and more are expected over time.
The question of what to do with spent fuel and radioactive waste should not be put on the back burner. The government should work to solve it.
Rising costs due to tightened safety measures have given a push to utilities’ decisions to scrap their reactors. Only nine reactors have so far been brought back online following the Fukushima disaster.
Plans to build new nuclear plants and reactors are making little progress. As a matter of reality, nuclear energy is losing the status of a mainstay power source.
That notwithstanding, utilities still stick to their old stance of continued reliance on nuclear power, saying they want to utilize what they have.
TEPCO is no exception. The owner of seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture is hoping to reactivate the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors there for starters.
Major utilities, especially TEPCO, are required to face up to the tough reality and look at what lies beyond the age of mass decommissioning. They bear the social responsibility to assign ample human and financial resources for renewable energy sources, which will be a major pillar of power supply for the next generation, among other areas.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO ordered to compensate ex-plant worker

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June 26, 2019
A Japanese district court has ordered the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power station to pay about 3,000 dollars in damages to a man who worked at the plant just after the 2011 nuclear accident.
The man says he was exposed to radiation without being informed about high radiation levels in a building where he worked.
In his suit against Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, and its subcontractors, the 53-year-old plaintiff demanded more than 100,000 dollars in damages.
He said he was forced to work in the turbine building basement of the plant’s crippled No. 3 reactor while being uninformed of a pool of highly radioactive water there.
The Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court on Wednesday handed down the compensation order to TEPCO for psychological damage to the plaintiff caused by working at the plant.
The court said he felt concern and fear while warning signals were sounding that indicated another worker alongside him was exposed to radiation exceeding the utility-set limit of 20 millisieverts.
But the court said 16 millisieverts the plaintiff was exposed to in an hour and half were below a level that would pose a health hazard.
The court also turned down his suits against two subcontractors of the utility. It found them not liable for his damage, saying responsibility for a nuclear disaster lies with the nuclear operator.
The plaintiff’s lawyer said the ruling was the first in favor of a Fukushima Daiichi plant worker, but partly granted his demands. The lawyer added that this will encourage other workers.
TEPCO says it will study the ruling in detail and deal with it sincerely.

June 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO decides not to hire foreign workers at nuclear plant

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May 22, 2019
Workers check the advanced liquid processing system used to treat contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in December. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced May 22 it was backtracking on plans to use foreign workers at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the health ministry urged extreme caution.
The utility said it will not hire foreign workers at the plant “in the immediate future” as it will need “much more time to put a system in place to ensure their safety.”
The company noted that hiring foreign workers at the nuclear plant under a new specified skills visa category that took effect in April could result in work-related accidents and long-term health problems due to their lack of Japanese language skills and understanding of Japanese labor practices.
The announcement followed a health ministry caution May 21 for TEPCO to carefully reconsider its policy of using foreign workers at the complex.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare noted that TEPCO was keen to take advantage of a new specified skills visa category and hire foreign workers, but urged the company to exercise “extreme caution.”
The ministry was concerned about foreign nationals with a limited command of Japanese being in an environment contaminated with radioactive substances.
The ministry had said that if TEPCO went ahead with hiring foreign workers, the company and its contractors involved in decommissioning had to take at least the same level of protective measures that apply to Japanese workers to ensure that they fully understand safety sanitation and avoid the health risk of excessive radiation exposure.
Even though eight years have passed since the triple meltdown, radiation levels remain high in many areas of the Fukushima plant, especially around the reactor buildings.
The decommissioning process that is expected to take years will involve a range of gargantuan tasks, one being the removal of melted nuclear fuel debris from the reactors.
Under the recently revised immigration control law, foreign workers with specified skills are permitted to work at nuclear power plants.
The ministry acknowledges that it is ultimately up to individual employers to decide whether or not to accept foreign workers on their payrolls.
But experts in Japan and overseas who are keen for the new visa program to be a success have also voiced concerns about foreign workers at the Fukushima plant developing radiation-related health issues and being able to manage them after they return to their home countries.
Foreign workers arriving in Japan in one of the two categories of specified skills can stay in the country for up to five years.
“Since there are no legal constraints, the ministry moved one step ahead of TEPCO,” said a senior ministry official, referring to the request for a rethink of the policy.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga referred to the ministry’s caution at a May 21 news conference, saying that TEPCO should be prepared to fully address a range of health-related problems that may arise in the future.
The utility notified dozens of its contractors at a meeting in late March that it will accept foreign workers at the Fukushima plant.
Currently, about 4,000 people toil at the plant each day. Most areas of the complex are categorized as controlled areas to guard against radiation exposure.
Under the law, workers at a nuclear facility must not be exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation over five years and 50 millisieverts a year.

 

 

May 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO urged to be cautious about using foreign workers in Fukushima

21 may 2019
This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows a trailer (bottom center) thought to be carrying nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
May 21, 2019
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese government on Tuesday urged the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to carefully examine its plan to have foreigners work at the complex under a new visa program, citing difficulties in managing the long-term health risk.
“It is necessary to give very deliberate consideration” to whether foreigners who come to Japan under the new visa program should engage in decommissioning work at the plant, labor minister Takumi Nemoto told reporters.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said last month it plans to accept foreign workers at the facility hit by the 2011 megaquake and tsunami.
The minister expressed concern about the ability to conduct long-term health management for foreign workers after they return to their home countries upon expiration of their visas.
“It is necessary to establish a safety and health management procedure that is equivalent or more advanced than that for Japanese workers,” Nemoto said.
The new visa program launched this April is intended to bring in mainly blue-collar foreign workers to 14 labor-hungry sectors including construction, farming and nursing care in aging Japan. TEPCO has confirmed with the Justice Ministry that holders of visas under the scheme are eligible to work at the Fukushima plant.
The government also urged TEPCO to consider implementing measures to manage the amount of radiation exposure for workers engaged in decommissioning tasks.
It also requested the utility to study whether it can use native languages for safety training and when issuing safety warnings at workplaces for workers who lack general proficiency in the Japanese language and familiarity with the country’s customs.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare demanded TEPCO report back to the ministry on the outcome of its deliberations without setting a deadline.
TEPCO said it has told dozens of its subcontractors that foreigners coming to Japan under the new visa program can not only engage in decommissioning work at the plant, but also take up building cleaning roles and work in the provision of food service.
To prevent unsafe levels of radiation exposure, TEPCO has said foreign workers must have Japanese language abilities that enable them to accurately understand the risks and to follow procedures and orders communicated to them in Japanese.
In radiation-controlled areas, workers need to carry dosimeters. On average, approximately 4,000 people work for TEPCO subcontractors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant each day.
To address exploitation fears under the new visa system, the Justice Ministry has issued an ordinance requiring employers to pay wages equivalent to or higher than those of Japanese nationals.

May 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO plans to use new foreign workers at Fukushima plant

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Rows of storage tanks hold radiation-contaminated water on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
April 18, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to use the new visa program to deploy foreign workers to its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, sparking concerns that language barriers could cause safety hazards and accidents.
The specified skills visa program started in April to alleviate labor shortages in 14 different industrial sectors. TEPCO says it has long lacked enough workers for decommissioning work at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
At a March 28 meeting, the utility explained its plan to hire foreign workers to dozens of construction and other companies that have been contracted for decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials asked the companies to be aware that workers sent to radiation monitoring zones must wear dosimeters and receive special education about the dangers they will face.
The new work visa program requires the foreign workers to have a minimum level of Japanese language ability needed for daily life.
But TEPCO officials reminded the company representatives that Japanese language skills would be even more important at the Fukushima plant because of the need to accurately understand radiation levels and follow instructions by superiors and colleagues regarding work safety.
TEPCO officials said they would ask the contracting companies to check on the Japanese language skills of prospective foreign workers.
But at least one construction company has already decided not to hire any foreign workers.
“The work rules at the No. 1 plant are very complicated,” said a construction company employee who has worked at the Fukushima plant. “I am also worried about whether thorough education can be conducted on radiation matters. It would be frightening if an accident occurred due to a failure of communication.”
According to TEPCO officials, an average of about 4,000 people work at the nuclear plant each day, mostly in zones where radiation levels must be constantly monitored.
To stay within the legal limits on exposure levels, workers often have to be replaced, leading to difficulties for TEPCO in gathering the needed number of workers.
Between April 2018 and February this year, 11,109 people worked at the Fukushima plant. Of that number, 763 were found to have levels of radiation exposure between 10 and 20 millisieverts, while 888 had levels between 5 and 10 millisieverts.
The legal limit for radiation exposure for workers at nuclear plants is 50 millisieverts a year, and 100 millisieverts over a five-year period.
The Justice Ministry has disciplined companies that used technical intern trainees for decontamination work without adequately informing them of the dangers. The ministry has also clearly stated that such trainees are prohibited from doing decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant.
However, Justice Ministry officials told TEPCO that foreigners with the new visa status could work alongside Japanese staff at the nuclear plant.
Although their numbers are small, foreign workers and engineers have been accepted at the Fukushima plant. As of February, 29 foreigners had been registered as workers engaged in jobs that expose them to radiation.
A construction company official said such foreign workers were hired after their Japanese language ability was confirmed.
But concerns remains on whether the new foreign workers will be able to properly understand how much radiation exposure they have experienced.
“Even Japanese workers are not sure about how to apply for workers’ compensation due to radiation exposure,” said Minoru Ikeda, 66, who has published a book about his experiences in decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant until 2015. “The problem would only be exacerbated for foreign workers.”
Kazumi Takagi, a sociology professor at Gifu University, has conducted interviews with nuclear plant workers.
Noting the need for special protective gear to work at the Fukushima site, Takagi said: “Unless workers can instantly understand the language when minor mistakes or sudden problems occur, it could lead to a major accident. That, in turn, could cause major delays in the work.”

April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

TEPCO, despite financial woes, still thinking to make donations

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March 30, 2019
Saddled with massive outlays following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the parent company of Tokyo Electric Power Co. is only able to keep going through the injection of public funds.
Yet, it has emerged the company now feels it is in a position to donate about 200 million yen ($1.8 million) to a village in Aomori Prefecture through a special tax program that allows firms making payments to receive a corporate tax break.
The donations would underwrite the cost of three projects totaling 800 million yen that the village of Higashidori hopes will revitalize its economy. One program is for branding local farm and fishery products.
TEPCO gained approval in January 2011 to construct a nuclear power plant in Higashidori, and the initial plan was to begin operations in March 2017.
But the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant led to an indefinite postponement of construction work. The village had anticipated property tax revenues after the nuclear plant was constructed, but has had to undertake stiff fiscal belt-tightening instead. A number of inns in the village have since closed.
TEPCO Holdings on March 29 proposed the donation for fiscal 2018 to the village and also indicated it was prepared to make another donation for fiscal 2019.
Its largesse is at odds with the fact that TEPCO is effectively under state control, given the huge amounts of public funds pumped into the utility to keep it afloat.
It also faces crippling costs in decommissioning the stricken Fukushima plant and compensating victims of the nuclear accident.
Given the situation, eyebrows will likely be raised if donations are made to local municipalities that play host to nuclear plants seeking to resume operations or serve as candidate sites for new plants.
Read more:

March 31, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t, TEPCO again ordered to pay compensation to Fukushima evacuees

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TOKYO, March 26 (Xinhua) — A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) to pay damages to 23 people who were forced to evacuate from their hometowns due to the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Matsuyama District Court handed down the ruling on Tuesday and awarded damages to 23 of the 25 plaintiffs who had evacuated from Fukushima to Ehime Prefecture in the wake of the nuclear crisis.
The plaintiffs had been seeking compensation amounting to a combined 137.5 million yen (1.24 million U.S. dollars) in damages.
The court, however, ordered the government and TEPCO to pay combined damages of just 27 million yen (244,750 U.S. dollars).
… The court’s ruling was the 10th among 30 similar suits filed across Japan against both the government and TEPCO.
Among similar cases already adjudicated, TEPCO was ordered to pay damages to plaintiffs in nine of them.
The government along with TEPCO have been found liable in five of the similar cases.
Read more:

March 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Tepco fights for return to nuclear power after Fukushima

47833742_401.jpgThe Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s coastal location leaves it open to tsunamis

 

March 11, 2019

Eight years after the accident in Fukushima, preparations are underway to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant operated by Tepco. But residents fear a second disaster.

Decades ago, nuclear power was supposed to be the perfect solution for Japan’s thirst for energy and for its rural economies. And in the sleepy town of Kashiwazaki, in the prefecture next to Fukushima, the solution was supposed to be the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, run by the power company Tepco — the company responsible for the 2011 Fukushima accident.

When in full operation, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant is the biggest in the world, capable of servicing 16 million households. But all of its seven reactors have been idle since the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi. This is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear power plant apart from the tsunami-stricken plants in Fukushima, in the neighboring prefecture.

Tepco has been repeatedly criticized for its negligence and has been ordered to pay compensation to the residents. The cleanup of the Fukushima power plant has been causing major headaches, while the reasons for the accident have yet to be clarified even eight years later.

Read more :

https://www.dw.com/en/japans-tepco-fights-for-return-to-nuclear-power-after-fukushima/a-47836968

 

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO sat by idly on reports of fires, glitches at nuclear plants

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant

February 14, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored reports on fires and other problems from its nuclear power plants and didn’t even bother to share the information in-house or consider precautionary measures, the nuclear watchdog revealed.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Feb. 13 it will investigate the failure by TEPCO’s headquarters to tackle the problems reported by its three facilities: the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, both in Fukushima Prefecture.
A TEPCO official said that the company put off tackling the problems because the deadline for dealing with such matters “was not clearly stated.”
NRA safety inspectors visited the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant from November through December last year.
They found that the division at company headquarters in charge of dealing with safety issues and sharing that information neglected reports of four problems that had occurred at the plant.
They cited 17 cases at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant; five cases at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and seven problems at the headquarters itself.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO firmly at fault for balking at payouts to disaster victims

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Tomoaki Kobayakawa, left, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., meets with Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori in June 2018.
February 9, 2019
The proposals rejected by TEPCO call for larger payments than the amounts suggested in the guidelines set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, a committee within the education and science ministry.
The dispute resolution center, established to facilitate compensation payments to people who have suffered damage from the Fukushima accident, has successfully mediated more than 18,000 settlement agreements, but the institution is now facing a brick wall.
The utility has refused to accept many ADR deals proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center in response to collective requests from groups of residents in areas around the Fukushima No.
It has promised to pay compensation to all victims “down to the last one,” ensure “swift and considerate” payments and “respect” settlement proposals made by the dispute resolution center.
The center was established by the government in 2011 to help settle compensation disputes between TEPCO and victims of the nuclear accident.
Nearly eight years have passed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, yet many victims seeking compensation for damages from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear plant, face uncertainty as the talks are getting nowhere.
Read more:

February 11, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Instead of compensating victims, TEPCO compete now into gas business

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Via Bruce Brinkman
 
“In a warm place, people gather.” TEPCO advertises its gas business to move against rival Tokyo Gas, which can also now compete to provide electricity following market liberalization. Instead of compensating victims, evacuees, and all those with radiologically contaminated property, *this* is how they use their taxpayer subsidies — in addition to enriching investors (who would have gone broke without state intervention).
Read also:
Japan’s power monopolies take first steps toward competition
Wed, 31 Oct 2012
 
Tokyo Gas takes aim at TEPCO with household electricity prices
December 25, 2015
 
Japan’s Power Monopolies Face Major Reform Jolt
March 31,2016
 
Which Tokyo Electric Company is Cheapest? (And How to Change Providers)
November 2, 2016
 
TEPCO Energy Partner to offer up to 8% cheaper gas rate from July
May 10, 2017

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s refusal to settle money talks prompts center to bow out

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Masakazu Suzuki, 68, head of the group of plaintiffs that filed a damage compensation lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court against Tokyo Electric Power Co. in November 2018, stands in a garden of his home in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 17.
January 15, 2019
A government body set up to mediate in compensation disputes with Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the 2011 nuclear disaster is throwing in the towel because of the plant operator’s repeated refusal to play ball with aggrieved residents.
Officials of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center complained that TEPCO, operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, keeps rejecting settlement proposals offered in an alternative dispute resolution process.
The center discontinued trying to offer assistance in 19 cases in 2018 and another one on Jan. 10, affecting 17,000 residents in total.
If the center discontinues its mediation work, residents will have no recourse but to file lawsuits, which take time and money to resolve.
The center was set up in September 2011 to quickly settle disputes between TEPCO and residents who are unhappy with the amounts of compensation offered by the company based on the government’s guidelines.
When residents applied to the center for higher levels of compensation, lawyers working as mediators listened to what they and TEPCO had to say to draw up settlement proposals.
Residents and TEPCO are not legally obliged to accept the proposals.
As a result, some residents resorted to filing lawsuits because they got no joy from TEPCO.
Between 2013 and 2017, the center discontinued mediation work on 72 cases, all of which concerned TEPCO employees or their family members.
The 19 cases that were discontinued last year and the one last week had been mainly brought by groups, each of which consisted of more than 100 residents.
The largest group comprised 16,000 or so residents of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.
Immediately after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant in 2011, all of the town’s residents were ordered to evacuate to other municipalities.
In March 2014, the center offered to add 50,000 yen ($460) to compensation amounts ranging from 100,000 yen to 120,000 yen a month that were offered to each of the 16,000 residents by TEPCO under the government’s guidelines.
It also offered an additional 30,000 yen if any residents were aged 75 or older.
However, TEPCO rejected the proposal, prompting the center to abandon its mediation efforts in the case last April.
Some of the residents filed a lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court in November.
With regard to cases involving groups of residents, the center continued to urge TEPCO to accept its settlement proposals for several years.
As the company kept turning a blind eye to the requests, the center began to discontinue its mediation efforts in those cases from last year.
In its management reconstruction plan, TEPCO says that it will respect settlement proposals made by the center.
However, Masafumi Yokemoto, a professor of environmental policies at Osaka City University, believes it is doubtful that TEPCO will make good on that pledge.
“If TEPCO agrees to offer compensation amounts that exceed the government’s guidelines, people in other areas could also seek increased compensation amounts,” he said.
A TEPCO representative, meantime, said that as settlements (with residents) are closed and individual procedures, “we will refrain from expressing our opinions.”

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Top court orders TEPCO to pay compensation for voluntary evacuation from Fukushima

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The Supreme Court building is seen in Tokyo.
 
December 18, 2018
TOKYO — The Supreme Court on Dec. 13 upheld the lower court ruling ordering Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay about 16 million yen in compensation to a man in his 40s and his family that voluntarily evacuated Fukushima Prefecture to western Japan after the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The top court’s First Petty Bench confirmed an Osaka High Court ruling handed down in October 2017 that recognized the man had developed depression due to the disaster and became unable to work. It marked the first time that a ruling awarding compensation to voluntary evacuees from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station disaster has been finalized by the top court, according to a legal team for victims of the nuclear crisis.
Meanwhile, the First Petty Bench led by Justice Katsuyuki Kizawa avoided mentioning the rationality of voluntary evacuation and other points in question as it turned down appeals from both sides against the high court ruling due to “insufficient grounds.”
According to the lower court rulings, the man from Japan’s northeastern Fukushima Prefecture city of Koriyama owned multiple restaurants and voluntarily evacuated with his family to locations outside the prefecture shortly after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis. The owner suffered from insomnia and was diagnosed with depression in September 2011, after relocating to the western Japan city of Kyoto.
TEPCO had already paid around 2.9 million yen to the family of five based on the government’s compensation standards. However, the man and his family deemed the amount inadequate and filed a lawsuit demanding about 180 million yen from TEPCO.
In its ruling handed down in February 2016, the Kyoto District Court ordered the utility pay about 30 million yen to the family after recognizing the causal relationship between the nuclear disaster and the man’s depression. The amount included compensation for the man and his wife’s mental suffering and damage caused by the man’s taking a leave of absence from work.
However, it upheld the government’s evacuation order standards. District court judges determined that voluntary evacuation would be rational only until August 2012 because “it’s difficult to recognize health damage from exposure to radiation below 20 millisieverts per year.”
After both parties appealed the district court ruling, the Osaka High Court basically agreed with the decision but ruled that the man only needed treatment for depression for two years due to the disaster, instead of four and a half years. Consequently, the high court had considerably reduced the compensation money awarded to the man due to his absence from work.

December 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment