The government of Japan admitted Friday 9 December that the bill for decommissioning the wrecked nuclear power plant at Fukushima, and compensating victims of the 2011 disaster, would soar to nearly twice its previous estimate, to $188bn (21.5 trillion yen).
The projected cost of scrapping the reactors quadrupled from 2 trillion yen to 8 trillion, while the cost of decontaminating the surrounding land nearly doubled, from 2.5 trillion yen to 4 trillion, the Nikkei Asian Review reports.
The government raised the compensation bill to 7.9 trillion yen, up from an earlier projected 5.4 trillion, and the cost of building interim storage facilities for radioactive soil rose from 1.1 trillion yen to 1.6 trillion.
The soaring costs have raised questions over how the utility company, Tepco, which is liable for around 70% of the cleanup and compensation bill, will cope.
The government relies on selling Tepco shares to defray Fukushima clean-up costs. The utility submitted plans to restructure its businesses, and is even considering mergers and acquisitions with foreign companies, Nikkei reported.
The Fukushima plant suffered meltdowns and the dispersal of radioactive material when a tsunami caused by an earthquake cut power at the plant in March 2011.
Image: The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, photographed shortly after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, showing reactors one through four, from right to left (Digital Globe/Creative Commons)