Estimates to ensure nuclear plant safety soar past 2 trillion yen at 11 utilities via The Asahi Shimbun

Japan’s 11 utilities plan to spend at least 2.4 trillion yen ($19.69 billion) to improve the safety of their nuclear plants, 1.5 times higher than an estimate made 18 months ago, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Some of the companies surveyed did not include costs for anti-terrorism measures in their estimates, so the total for safety upgrades will increase.

All 48 nuclear reactors across the nation have remained offline after the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The power companies are seeking to resume operations of their reactors after satisfying stricter safety standards imposed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority after the Fukushima accident.

The Asahi Shimbun asked 10 power firms that have nuclear facilities, as well as Electric Power Development Co., which is building a reactor, how much they planned to spend as of June 2015 to upgrade their equipment to clear the new NRA standards.

In January 2013, the 10 operators said they would spend 1 trillion yen on safety measures, while the figure rose to 1.6 trillion yen by January 2014.

Chugoku Electric Power Co., whose Shimane No. 2 reactor in Matsue is being examined, has set up walls to block radiation for a building that will serve as a headquarters to handle emergencies after the NRA demanded that the company act properly to prevent workers’ exposure to high levels of radiation.

Although Chugoku Electric initially estimated its upgrading costs at 100 billion yen, its total expenses now exceed 200 billion yen.

Precautions to prevent fire damage at the Onagawa No. 2 reactor in Miyagi Prefecture, such as burying fuel tanks for emergency power generators underground, have raised the safety improvement costs for Tohoku Electric Power Co. from 154 billion yen to more than 300 billion yen.

Five of the 11 firms did not include expenses needed to introduce special facilities to respond to terrorist attacks. The NRA has mandated that nuclear operators set up such measures by July 2018.

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