Fukushima nuclear clean-up to cost $58 bn

Jul 24, 2013 by Kyoko Hasegawa
View of the unit 3 reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, on March 15, 2011. The clean-up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster will cost up to 5.81 trillion yen ($58 billion)—five times more than estimated, according to Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

The clean-up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster could cost five times more than estimated, figures have revealed, as Tokyo Electric Power said on Wednesday that steam had been seen again in a reactor building.

It is the third time steam has been observed in the battered structure over the last week.

The government-backed National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology said decontamination work in Fukushima prefecture will cost up to 5.81 trillion yen ($58 billion), far more than the 1 trillion yen the government has so far allocated.

The institute, in a report released Tuesday, said the costs—including for transportation and storage of - over a large area—would be in a range between 3.13 trillion yen and 5.81 trillion yen.

"We hope the study will be helpful in drafting plans for decontamination of forests and farmland, as well as plans for residents to return to their homes," the institute said.

The study calculated costs for several decontamination models, including one under which surface soil on farmland is removed and stored elsewhere, and another that would only see that soil turned over.

"It's important to examine the effects of several decontamination scenarios" as the ratio of evacuees who plan to return depends on the level of radiation after decontamination work, it said.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials inspect radioactive underground reservoirs at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, on April 13, 2013. The clean-up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster will cost up to 5.81 trillion yen ($58 billion)—five times more than estimated, according to Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

As the report was released, government officials scolded TEPCO on Tuesday for a delay in admitting that radiation-polluted groundwater was flowing into the sea.

Earlier this month, the utility had reported spiking levels of possibly cancer-causing materials in soil from underneath the plant, but maintained that toxic groundwater was likely contained.

On Monday it admitted its own study, completed days earlier, revealed the groundwater was leaking into the ocean, prompting criticism over the delay.

Trade minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters Tuesday the slow release of data by TEPCO was "extremely deplorable", while Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: "This kind of data should be disclosed quickly".

On Wednesday, TEPCO said workers had noticed steam around the fifth floor of the building housing Reactor No. 3, which was wrecked by the tsunami of March 2011. It was the second time in two days and the third time in a week that steam had been observed.

The firm has said there has been no increase in the amount of radioactive material being released, although it does not know where the steam is coming from.

TEPCO said it was looking at the possibility that accumulated rainwater had been the source.

The roof of the building was blown off in a hydrogen explosion after meltdowns in the days after the tsunami swept ashore.

Although the natural catastrophe is known to have killed more than 18,000 people, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the radiation released at Fukushima.

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WirelessPhil
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 24, 2013
And its still leaking Cesium into the Pacific Ocean!
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (6) Jul 24, 2013
For comparison: 58bn is about 4 years worth of Japan's investment in all renewables combined.

(And I doubt when all is said and done that 58bn will be enough. Who ever heard of cost estimates of that magnitude NOT being overrun?)
JohnGee
1.6 / 5 (7) Jul 24, 2013
That's awful. Even the US would have a difficult time dealing with that. That's something like 1/3 the cost of Apollo.

I have no problem with nuclear energy, but at least the first generation plants need to be phased out. I imagine since Fukushima, Japan is or will have the same regulatory nightmares in building new plants as the US. It's a shame the disasters like this make it harder to get the public on board for a solution.
praos
2.1 / 5 (14) Jul 24, 2013
Cesium leaking in a little pond of Pacific Ocean? Put it into barrels and inflate the cost to $580000000000 Bn. The amount is minuscule, and Cs is virtually harmless, as it neither concentrates nor precipitates. First you kill hundreds by wholly unnecesassary evacuations, then squander billions for unnecessary decontaminations. For what? To settle down the antinuclear hysteria. No way. Rent a good shrank.
Solon
1.6 / 5 (13) Jul 24, 2013
Well said praos. As with anything nuclear, the contractors make a killing by playing on the publics ignorance and fear. The Yakuza are laughing all the way to the bank with Fukushima.
CapitalismPrevails
1.6 / 5 (13) Jul 24, 2013
This is why government should get out of free markets. If these nuclear power plants didn't receive government loan guarantees, they wouldn't exist because the private sector wouldn't risk the building and liability costs.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (12) Jul 24, 2013
For comparison: 58bn is about 4 years worth of Japan's investment in all renewables combined.

(And I doubt when all is said and done that 58bn will be enough. Who ever heard of cost estimates of that magnitude NOT being overrun?)
So how much do you think it costs to treat and bury the 2M deaths EACH YEAR from fossil fuel use?
VendicarE
3 / 5 (6) Jul 24, 2013
I do not disfavor nuclear power but it is clear that apes are capable of designing and running nuclear power plants without poisoning themselves.

I advise avoiding significant increases in nuclear power until the Apes have evolved enough intelligence to properly manage the technology.
VendicarE
3 / 5 (6) Jul 24, 2013
I do not disfavor nuclear power but it is clear that apes are not capable of designing and running nuclear power plants without poisoning themselves.

I advise avoiding significant increases in nuclear power until the Apes have evolved enough intelligence to properly manage the technology.
VendicarE
3.5 / 5 (8) Jul 25, 2013
The Japanese people would be best served if the investigation of this accident is not blocked like the GOP blocked the investigation of the Gulf Oil Spill a few years back.

http://www.youtub...I4JisF1w

Republicans are corrupt, vile people.

http://www.youtub...I4JisF1w
antialias_physorg
3.9 / 5 (8) Jul 25, 2013
So how much do you think it costs to treat and bury the 2M deaths EACH YEAR from fossil fuel use?

There are 2 million deaths in Japan from fossil fuels? Man, that country must have quite the population explosion.

As always you fall into your old habit of false dichotomies
I know you can never grasp the idea that there are more than two sides to an issue. But at least TRY occasionally, won't you? Electricity can be produced by more than just nuclear OR fossil fuels. There are third (and fourth and fifth, ... ) ways. Or what exactly do you think those investments in renewables I mentioned go to?
Skepticus
1.8 / 5 (12) Jul 25, 2013
If the anti-nukers, oil lobbyists and the greenies had not protested and crow barred the nuclear technology developments, more of the capital lost could have been going the plants themselves and their quick successors. Facing high costs due to these holy crusaders, the investors must milk these old-tech dinosaurs for all their money's worth, instead of scrapping them after 10 year or so, to built safer, next generation reactors and repeat. By inciting fear and costly delays, the anti-nukers prevented the safer reactor designs ever coming into existence, thus "validating" their propaganda and safeguarding their income sources. Sordidly ingenious!
Skepticus
2.4 / 5 (8) Jul 25, 2013
There are 2 million deaths in Japan from fossil fuels? Man, that country must have quite the population explosion.

Perhaps ghost means to say 2M worldwide per year?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (10) Jul 25, 2013
There are 2 million deaths in Japan from fossil fuels? Man, that country must have quite the population explosion.

Perhaps ghost means to say 2M worldwide per year?
AA the antinuke nut is playing dumb as usual. 'Oh my! 58 billion and counting! Nuclear is so evil!' yawn.

I wonder how much it will cost to remove all the CO2 from the atmosphere that fossil fuels have pumped into it in the last 100 years.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (6) Jul 25, 2013
Perhaps ghost means to say 2M worldwide per year?

Probably. But then his argument makes even less sense. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt of simply misqouting than being outright stupid.

Japan is pouring money into this and the renewables I mentioned - and it is only Japan that benefits from the power produced at the powerplant - how exactyl does that even relate to GLOBAL fossil fuel deaths on any level whatsoever?
antialias_physorg
3.5 / 5 (8) Jul 25, 2013
AA the antinuke nut

I'm actually not anti-nuclear. I'm anti-dumb.

Fission power is cool from the technical standpoint
Fission power is awesome from the physics standpoint.
I see a bright future for nuclear power in off-world uses (both fission and fusion types) where contamination is not an issue.

But on this planet using nuclear fission is just plain idiotic.

It's not economical: If you take the real cost of nuclear - which includes all the subsidies for it - then it's the WAY most expensive form of producing electricity out of all types - more expensive than even wind energy by almost an entire order of magnitude.

It's not sustainable: Not because of lack of fuels but because of finite amounts of land and ocean resources we can afford to lose to contamination.

It leads to monopolization: Which has never been in the interest of consumers - and certainly not in the interest of looking fo better alternatives.
Yelmurc
1.3 / 5 (3) Jul 25, 2013
I see an X Prize in here somewhere. Lets reduce the cost of nuclear cleanup.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 25, 2013
I'm actually not anti-nuclear...But on this planet using nuclear fission is just plain idiotic
Ahaahaa forgive me. On this planet using fossil fuels is just plain idiotic because it releases FAR more radioactive material into the environment than nukes, not to mention all that other crud we breathe every day which gives us tumors.
it's the WAY most expensive form of producing electricity out of all types
Absolutely untrue. Only fossil fuels are cheaper where there is direct access to them. Many studies.
http://www.world-...r-Power/

-You have been shown these figures before but you refuse to accept them because of your prejudiced opinions.
It's not sustainable...because of finite amounts of land and ocean resources we can afford to lose to contamination
Sorry but this is far more the case with fossil fuels.
leads to monopolization
?? No more so than anything else. Uranium is ubiquitous.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 25, 2013
"Coal ash is formed when coal is burned in boilers that generate steam for power generation and industrial applications. TENORM is generated when burning removes organic constituents, leaving minerals and concentrating trace quantities of naturally occurring radionuclides:
uranium
thorium
potassium
their radioactive decay products including radium. (The amount radium in coal can vary by more than two orders of magnitude depending upon the type of coal and where it was mined.)"

"The average yearly generation of coal ash is about 61 million metric tons (MT). In 1990, the combustion of coal in utility and industrial boilers generated 61.6 million MT of coal ash and slags and 17.2 million MT of sludges."

"Typically 70 to 80 percent of coal ash is disposed of in dry landfills. (Sluiced ashes and sludges are first dewatered in ash ponds then landfilled.) A landfill for a typical coal fired power plant (500-1000 Megawatts) requires about 30 to 60 hectares (74 to 148 acres)"
Skepticus
2.1 / 5 (7) Jul 25, 2013

It's not economical: If you take the real cost of nuclear - which includes all the subsidies for it - then it's the WAY most expensive form of producing electricity out of all types - more expensive than even wind energy by almost an entire order of magnitude.


Thanks AA. That astronomical costs must be because they are heartless robber bastards, and has nothing to do with what I said. I respectfully submitted that your aversion to nuclear power is not quite honestly balanced and checked by your impartial objectiveness, considering all the factors- technological, political, financial, emotional, and so on.
rah
1 / 5 (6) Jul 27, 2013
Exactly $58 billion dollars? I'd bet I could do that cleanup even cleaner, for $57 billion.
djr
4 / 5 (1) Jul 28, 2013
The disaster was totally avoidable. Tecpco's own engineers foresaw this disaster - but were overridden in order to reduce costs. http://www.dailyt...2026.htm

Of course there can be guarantee that this will not happen again. The problem with nukes is obviously the potential nightmare if something does go wrong. Skepticus - surely it is very unfair of you to blame the high cost of nuclear on greenies. Is the high cost not due to the technical/engineering difficulties.

That being said - I am fascinated to see if this company comes through, and can truly produce power at 2 cents per Kwh with next gen nukes. I think they will own the energy market if they are being honest. http://atomicinsi...detroit/
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) Jul 28, 2013
Yep, those anti-nukes nuts are loony, nuclear disasters are completely harmless;
http://www.iscien...down.htm

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jul 29, 2013
That astronomical costs must be because they are heartless robber bastards,

The cost is because the ones who operate the powerplants have found ways of pushing the real costs to other people (e.g. power plant operators are not responsible for storing the stuff afterwards for 1000s of years). Much like the coal industry doesn't pay for the many deaths resulting in its emissions.

But those costs ARE costs that have to be paid by someone. If it's not the owners of said powerplants then these ARE hidden subsidies. And they need to be included if you look at the total cost of a power source.

From an engineering standpoint it's just that any technology where you don't have a "plan B" in case of failure (at least a plan for permanent cleanup) is not ready for widespread adoption. And no engineer will claim that system X is 100% foolproof AND failsafe (note the distinction). Especially as a system gets more complex. And arguable nuclear power systems are as complex as they come.
djr
not rated yet Jul 29, 2013
Correction above - I meant to say "there can be no guarantee this will not happen again"
Skepticus
1 / 5 (5) Jul 30, 2013
@ AA:
It would help if you can at least outline how "the real costs" is worked out? Protests and delays doesn't cost the plant builders, operators and their investors backers nothing?
There are reactors that use un-enriched Uranium or Thorium and breeders, but because of "proliferations concerns" a.k.a global geopolitical monopoly and control concerns they WILL remain experimental. Political considerations always trump available technical solutions, non-solution to the storage issues is just a lip service to the power of the day.
Of course any engineer or me who swears a system is 100% foolproof is living in fantasy land. Engineering is a process of compromises. However, to put it bluntly, you can't even have your flush toilet now if inventors and engineers are not given incentive, resources and the political climate to improve the first one. Advances are always reigned in and only exploited by the baboons and their financiers of the era when they see profit in doing so. Enough said.

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