Japan continues to count the cost of Fukushima
The disaster may have been over 5 years ago, but the earth quake and subsequent tsunami that struck the Japanese coast on the 11th of March 2011 is still increasing in cost.
Much of this is down to the extent of radioactive contamination both on land and along the Japanese coast. The plants coastal location has proven a big factor in the cost increases, due the oceans ability to distribute large amounts of contaminated waste. This waste has had a real effect on people living nearby, with many having little choice but to flee their homes. The cost of compensating the victims has also been underestimated, leaving the Japanese government little choice but to dip further into the disaster fund.
Recent estimates from the trade ministry put the expected cost at some 20 trillion yen ($180bn, £142bn). To give an idea of price increases, the original estimates put the total at $50bn. That’s a staggering rise of over $130bn in just 5 years.
The longer the process takes, the more contaminated locations will require work. Over 3,500 roads, 72 bridges and 31 railway routes affected by the leak require attention, not to mention the storage of contaminated soil and the decommissioning of the power station which is still leaking radioactive waste into the atmosphere.
Japan’s government proposed initially covering the cost of the clean-up before the Tokyo Electric Power company would repaying the costs. However, it seems the debt is being passed on to the consumer through higher electricity bills. This is effectively a tax on the public to pay the debt of a private electricity company, and with the costs only growing it could be some time before we see an end to one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.