Tepco looks for government aid amid fears of bankruptcy

The President of Tokyo Electric Power Co Holdings (Tepco) has requested what he referred to as ‘structural assistance’ in helping the company decommission the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor power plant.

Naomi Hirose says his company does not want financial assistance but is in need of a plan to avoid the firm avoiding bankruptcy in dismantling the reactors. Fukushima had provided one third of Japan’s electricity prior to a 2011 accident caused by a tsunami impacting on the plant leading to reactor melt down.
Japanese engineer working at Fukushima
"We don't want to receive national rescue measures but want to bear the Fukushima responsibility ourselves," Hirose told a government panel. "For that reason, we would like to undertake steps for a further overhaul than we have had so far."

Five and a half years on, Tepco still struggles to contain radioactive water from the plant and has said it can't predict the eventual costs of clean-up and decommissioning. According to a Reuters report in 2013, the reactors “continued to leak around 300 tonnes of radioactive waste into the Pacific Ocean every day." At the time of writing Tepco has yet to clarify how much of this waste continues to be released into the sea.

That is set to continue as the source of the leak cannot be sealed as it is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures.

Hirose told reporters that it is difficult to accurately predict the costs of even a gradual decommissioning of the crippled reactors.

"If the issue of recognising all the estimated losses at once were to emerge, our company would fail, so we would like some structural assistance from the government to be able to avoid that risk," Hirose said.

Japan's utilities lobby expects clean-up and compensation costs from the Fukushima disaster to overshoot previous estimates by 8.1 trillion yen ($78bn) beyond an initial estimate 7.9 trillion yen.

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