Japan to boost financial support for Fukushima operator

In this photograph released by the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) on December 16, 2013. Photo - AFP

Japan will nearly double financial support for the operator of Fukushima to $86 billion, as the government vowed to speed up the removal of contaminated soil and compensation for victims.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ministers Friday held a meeting of the nuclear emergency response headquarters and adopted new guidelines they hope will speed up recovery from the disaster more than two-and-a-half years ago.

"Japan won't revive without Fukushima's restoration," Abe told the meeting. "Our mission is to help more than 100,000 evacuees rebuild their lives as quickly as possible."

Under the guidelines, the government will lift the ceiling on public funds for Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) to 9.0 trillion yen ($86 billion) from the current 5.0 trillion yen, the officials said.

The cash constitutes loans to the troubled firm, a fresh injection of taxpayers' money and expected capital gains from the planned sale of TEPCO shares held by a government unit in charge of sorting out the mess.

The money is expected to help TEPCO accelerate decontamination work, including by building a storage facility for tens of thousands of tonnes of soil contaminated with radiation, they said.

The embattled utility at the centre of the worst nuclear accident in a generation will also use the fund to cover compensation payments to victims.

A 9.0-magnitude quake struck off Japan's northeast coast in March 2011, triggering monster waves that swamped the Fukushima plant's cooling systems, sparking reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from around the plant, which scientists say will take four decades to clean up.

While some areas are now deemed safe for residents to return to, many others remain off-limits, and experts warn certain spots may be uninhabitable for decades because of high radiation readings.


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Sickened by service: More US sailors claim cancer from helping at Fukushima
December 20, 2013 FoxNews

51 crewmembers of the USS Ronald Reagan who have joined a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric.
When the USS Ronald Reagan responded to the tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, Navy sailors gladly pitched in with rescue efforts.
51 U.S. Navy members who served aboard the Ronald Reagan now trace illnesses including thyroid and testicular cancers, leukemia and brain tumors.

The lawsuit was initially dismissed, when the court ruled that any ruling would hinge on interpreting communication between the Japanese and U.S. governments, which could violate the separation of powers.
The Department of Defense declined to comment on the pending lawsuit.
The Japanese government knew radiation was being leaked and did not inform the U.S. Navy.