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Japan sets aside $1 billion for nuclear fallout storage

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Fukushima reactor control room, suit (Credit: TEPCO)
Fukushima reactor control room, suit (Credit: TEPCO)

The total cost of Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown may never be known, but the country has at least put a number on how much it anticipates storing the radioactive debris will cost it. Asahi Shimbun reports that the 2014 Japanese budget includes a 100 billion yen provision (roughly $970 million) for the purchase and development of land for "intermediate storage facilities." Once construction and operation costs are also included, the total anticipated expense is calculated to be 1 trillion yen, or just under $10 billion. Though Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the disaster-stricken plant, was expected to handle all decontamination work, its financial struggles have delayed the cleanup and the government is now stepping in with public funds to speed things up.

Construction and operation costs raise the total to 1 trillion yen

There are multiple candidate sites in the area around the Fukushima plant, though the report suggests that local authorities have been understandably reluctant to green-light a project that would deliver up to 28 million cubic meters of radioactive debris into their jurisdiction. The main worry appears to be that the chosen site would turn into a permanent disposal area, as opposed to the 30-year temporary storage facility that the government envisions. In any case, a long-term storage solution needs to be found, with the AFP noting that at the end of August there were already over 130,000 tons of contaminated debris collected, which are presently being stored in ill-suited facilities like waste incineration and sewage treatment plants.