Advisers to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) say that the decommissioning of the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power facility would be better left to a separate entity that would not have a double focus also on its core business of generating electricity and creating profit, as TEPCO clearly is. The decommissioning of the molten cores of the Fukushima nuclear plant is projected to take around 40 years, and the idea of bringing an outside entity into the process was made known today by the embattled operator’s advisers.
“I would like to see a structure where those involved on the clean-up are focused, and clearly know that their job, and their job only, is safe, reliable clean-up of that site,” Dale Klein, the chairman of Tokyo Electric’s Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, said in an interview in Tokyo today. Following the central government’s recent pledge to finally intervene in the clean-up of the plant which was left devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the idea of relieving TEPCO of the decommissioning seems to be gaining momentum. As the Japanese public has been witnesses to a long series of very public mishaps and high-profile gaffes from TEPCO, many are wondering if this new idea is the way to go.
Klein had served as chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2006 until 2009, and was witness to the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in the United States. The plant’s operator GPU Inc. had formed an independent unit for the decommissioning of the reactor, and Klein says that this could be a model for the restructuring of TEPCO’s tasks. “You’ve got this company that’s expected to be providing cash-flow on profit statements,” said Tom O’Sullivan, founder of Tokyo-based energy consultant Mathyos. “That’s a constraint on what they can do on the decommissioning side,” he explains. “They just don’t have the resources to do it.” As of the moment, TEPCO has not made any official comment on these proposals.