Experts from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have been studying the situation at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and have come to the conclusion that the decontamination efforts would cost around $50 billion. This is more than four times the amount that Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) and the central Japanese government have earmarked for the clean-up efforts.
The group has estimated that the decontamination in the no-entry zones will be at around $20 billion, while the other surrounding areas will cost another $31 billion. The estimates are based on the unit costs that the government provided as well as information collected from the affected municipalities. It also includes the expenses that will be incurred in the removal, transportation and storage of radioactive waste like the contaminated soil and water. So far, the government has allotted $11 billion, but it is not clear yet to them what the total cost will be. Junko Nakanishi, one of the members of the group conducting the study, said that the government should study first the cost performance of the ongoing decontamination to decide whether or not to continue spending money on that, or to just reallocate the money to helping the displaced residents rebuild their lives.
Much has been criticized about the slow and problem-riddled decontamination effort by TEPCO at the plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Aside from problems like power outages, contaminated water leakages and the latest steam emission problem, the clean-up itself is going ever so slowly, with areas near the plant still at radiation levels that are 10 to 60 times higher than the allowable level. The Environment Ministry says that only 3% of the residential areas in the evacuation zone has been decontaminated as of March 2013.
[ via NHK ]