econintersect.com
       
  

FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.



posted on 14 March 2016

Five Years After Fukushima, There Are Big Lessons For Nuclear Disaster Liability

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Makoto Takahashi, University of Cambridge

As four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant suffered catastrophic cooling failures and exploded in March 2011, the world watched in disbelief. For Japan, this was not just the greatest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. It was "the most severe crisis ... since World War II."

Five years on, the nation continues to struggle with the effects. A 10km radius of the plant remains a dead-zone: desolate and uninhabited. As many as 100,000 people still remain displaced, unable to return to their homes. Workers at the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) still don claustrophobic masks and rubber suits to venture into the Fukushima facility. Their job is to decommission the plant safely, a task that plant manager Akira Ono recently said was "about 10% complete".

The task is beset with setbacks and spiralling costs. In December 2011 the government estimated that managing Fukushima would cost US$50 billion. By 2014 this had nearly doubled to include US$19 billion to decommission the Fukushima plant; US$22 billion to decontaminate the surrounding area; US$9 billion to build temporary storage facilities for nuclear waste; and US$43 billion to compensate the victims. Today even this looks hopelessly optimistic.

Security guard at town of Namie, north of Fukushima, 2016. EPA

Compensation

Fukushima is now the biggest civil liability case in history. More than two million people have sued TEPCO and US$50 billion has already been paid out. This is already equivalent to 400 Exxon Valdez oil spill settlements, and experts predict the total cost of compensation could rise to US$120 billion.

One notable subplot has been compensation for cases of suicide. A court's landmark decision that TEPCO pay US$470,000 to the heirs of a 58-year-old farmer's wife named Hamako Watanabe could prove much more costly. The Watanabe family were evacuated from the village of Yamakiya in April 2011, losing their farm and leaving them with a US$140,000 mortgage on their now uninhabitable home. Watanabe became severely depressed and during an authorised one-night visit to their home in June the same year, she burned herself to death.

Other bereaved families have also come forward. Two similar cases are now underway, with a recent Japanese government report stating that a total of 56 suicides could be tied to the disaster. And this looks conservative: the NHK broadcasting service has put the number at 130. What is certain is that the number is rising. A further 19 evacuees took their lives in 2015 and there is no reason to believe 2016 will be any different.

Anti-nuclear demonstration in Nagatacho, 2015. TK Kurikawa

Who pays

Officially the buck for everything stops with TEPCO. Under Japanese nuclear-liability law, the nuclear operator is always responsible for the full cost of an accident, even if it cannot be proven to be negligent.

In practice, the Japanese taxpayer is bearing the burden. TEPCO's liability may be unlimited, but its assets are not. Despite the country's earthquake history, TEPCO's insurance policy incredibly did not cover earthquakes or tsunamis. And in accordance with regulations introduced in 2009, TEPCO was insured for up to only US$1.1 billion anyway: about a fiftieth of the damages paid out so far.

The government has been forced to prevent TEPCO's bankruptcy - over and above all of its other Fukushima-related outgoings. It has bought a majority share and has continued to finance compensation payments through a series of indemnity agreements and loans in the form of government compensation bonds.

One has to ask whether the concept of unlimited liability has any real meaning when the operator's capacity to pay is so limited. It also raises questions for other parts of the world. In the UK, for example, nuclear liability is capped at a mere US$220m, less than two hundreth of what TEPCO has already paid in compensation claims. Japan is evidently not be the only country that should be taking lessons from Fukushima.

The ConversationMakoto Takahashi, Pre-doctoral researcher, University of Cambridge

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing










Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted. You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.




Econintersect Contributors


search_box

Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF


The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.


Take a look at what is going on inside of Econintersect.com
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Empty Rhetoric: On the Work of Deirdre McCloskey
Men Without Work
News Blog
What We Read Today 30 March 2017
February 2017 Median Household Income Up 1%
Hacker Kevin Mitnick On Password Managers And Online Safety
Third Estimate 4Q2016 GDP Revised Upward. Corporate Profits Up.
25 March 2017 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Again Worsens
Adjusting To An Imperfect Reality
Employers Wise To Tap Into Older Workers Waiting On Retirement
Infographic Of The Day: How Seven Types Of Global Megacities Stack Up
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Down, Dollar Up, Gold, Oil Steady, Senate Takes Russia Probe, Income - Tale Of 2 Countries, London Off. Values Face Big Drop, Russia Cuts Oil, Border Wall In Mexico?, And More
Documentary Of The Week: America Before Columbus
American Doctors: The Prognosis Isn't Good
Brexit: 'Leave' Voters Showing Most Signs Of Doubt
Crumbling Comet? The Great Debate About Whether Rosetta Rock 67P Is Breaking Apart
Investing Blog
Where In The World To Invest? A Search Of The Globe
Boom Or Bust: Tech IPOs Can Go Either Way
Opinion Blog
Scarborough Shoal: Will America Help The Philippines?
Why Did Preet Bharara Refuse To Drain The Wall Street Swamp?
Precious Metals Blog
Following The Yellow Brick Road
Live Markets
30Mar2017 Market Close: Wall Street Traded Mostly Sideways In The Green After Flat Opening, DOW Closes Up 69 Points, Daily Trend Moving Slightly Upward
Amazon Books & More






.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government































 navigate econintersect.com

Blogs

Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day
Weather

Newspapers

Asia / Pacific
Europe
Middle East / Africa
Americas
USA Government
     

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed
Google+
Facebook
Twitter
Digg

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution

Contact

About

  Top Economics Site

Investing.com Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved