The Japanese government said it anticipates spending a minimum of $13 billion to rehabilitate all of the territory exposed to radioactive contaminants from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, Reuters reported on Thursday (see GSN, Oct. 17).
"At least 1 trillion yen will be budgeted as we take on the responsibility for decontamination," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told public broadcaster NHK on Thursday. "It is a prerequisite for people to return to their homelands."
The six-reactor Fukushima atomic power plant was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that left thousands missing or dead in Japan. Radiation emissions on a scale not recorded since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster necessitated the evacuation of some 80,000 Japanese citizens from a 12-mile area surrounding the hobbled atomic facility in Fukushima prefecture.
The Japanese government could have to deal with 29 million cubic meters of contaminated dirt from Fukushima prefecture and four other neighboring prefectures.
Tokyo presently has $2.89 billion in hand to spend on nuclear cleanup efforts and intends to earmark an additional $3.28 billion in another special spending plan that is anticipated to be finalized on Friday, the prime minister said. Further funds would be allocated in the next budget year.
Some analysts predict the final cost of rehabilitation will be much more than $13 billion.
International Atomic Energy Agency specialists in a trip to Japan last week advised that Tokyo be more aggressive in its radiation remediation efforts (Rie Ishiguro, Reuters, Oct. 20).