Nuke Plant Owner Paying $1 Billion to Residents

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

TOKYO (AP) - The owner of Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear plant
will pay an estimated $1 billion (88 billion yen) to thousands of
residents who evacuated homes near the radiation-leaking plant and
don't yet know when they can return.

Compensation Tokyo Electric Power Co. ultimately may pay for the
world's second-worst nuclear disaster is expected to be trillions
of yen.

Japan's Cabinet last week approved a bill to help TEPCO meet the
massive costs, and parliamentary approval is pending. It would
establish a fund from public money and contributions from utilities
and special government bonds.

The estimate TEPCO released Wednesday is in addition to 50
billion yen paid in preliminary compensation to 50,000 households
in late May.

TEPCO said it is preparing to distribute the latest compensation
to about 150,000 people forced to evacuate areas around the
Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which has leaked radiation since the
March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed its power and crucial
cooling systems.

The estimate is based on criteria adopted by a government panel
this week - up to 120,000 yen ($1,500) per month to each family for
the first six months, a reduced 50,000 yen ($625) per month each
for another six months.

TEPCO is also preparing to pay separate compensation to
fishermen, farmers and agriculture cooperatives, and others who
have suffered because of disaster. Those figures are not available
yet.

On Wednesday, the Iitate village office moved into the prefectural, or state, government office in Fukushima City after more than 6,000 residents evacuated the village, which was designated as high-risk for long-term radiation exposure.

"I hope we can all return to our homes as soon as possible,"
village chief Norio Kanno told reporters.

At the Fukushima plant, workers are struggling to get a crucial
water treatment system fully operational. Fresh water being pumped
into the reactors to keep them cool becomes contaminated with
radiation, and 110,000 tons of radiation-tainted water have pooled
across the plant.

It could overflow within 10 days if action is not taken. The
treatment system that went fully operational Friday was halted
because a cartridge to absorb radioactive particles reached its
limit within five hours, not several weeks as expected.

After cleaning and adjustment, the water treatment system is
being tested again and has processed 1,700 tons of water, TEPCO
spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said.

The contaminated water has hampered work to install a
sustainable cooling system at each reactor that incorporates the
water treatment system. Unit 1 is close to that stage, but the
other two reactors have fallen behind due to high radiation or
debris.

TEPCO has reduced water put into the reactors, so that less
water accumulates, but there is a risk. Matsumoto acknowledged the
temperature at Unit 3 has slightly risen and requires careful
monitoring.

TEPCO hopes to bring the reactors to a stable cold shutdown
state by early January, - a goal some experts have questioned as
too ambitious.


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