Sci/Tech

Japanese gov't to pay more for Fukushima cleanup

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government announced Friday that it will increase the amount of money it's providing to the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to step up cleanup and reconstruction efforts.

The interest-free loans provided to Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be increased to 9 trillion yen ($90 billion), up from 5 trillion yen, according to government-adopted guidelines. The government also said it would try to recoup 3.6 trillion yen through the sale of TEPCO shares or other schemes under the state-backed fund organization for nuclear accidents.

Originally, TEPCO was to be liable for all costs stemming from the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. But in September, the government decided to step in and provide financial help after contaminated water leaks and other mishaps triggered public concern about TEPCO's ability to manage the situation.

The government's draft supplementary budget through March 2014 allocates nearly 48 billion yen ($480 million) for measures to deal with contaminated water leaks and storage of radioactive water at the plant, as well as the decommissioning of its three melted reactors. Additional cleanup projects are expected to be funded through a national public works budget, local media reports say.

The decommissioning of Fukushima Dai-ichi's three wrecked reactors is expected to take decades and require expertise from around the world.

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