Japan’s Trade Ministry Seeks Budget Boost for Fukushima Cleanup

Japan’s trade ministry asked for a 44 percent jump in its budget to retire reactors at the Fukushima plant, a process that may take as long as 40 years, while making a first-time request for water-management funding.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will request 12.5 billion yen ($127 million) to decommission the reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s wrecked Dai-Ichi plant in the year beginning April, it said in a statement. The ministry also plans to seek an unspecified amount to handle contaminated water at the site, according to the statement.

“The primary focus in the recovery of Fukushima prefecture is the decommissioning of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant,” the trade ministry said in the statement. “The government will be at the forefront of tackling problems” that arise at the power station.

The trade ministry made its request about a week after the utility known as Tepco reported that 300 tons of water had leaked from one of the more than 1,000 storage tanks at the plant. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has designated the leak as the most serious incident since the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 caused the reactors to melt down.

Tepco increased its tank-monitoring staff to 60 people from 10 as a result of the leak, while boosting the number of times each tank is inspected from twice a day to once every three hours, spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida said today by phone. About 338,000 tons of water is stored at the plant as of yesterday, she said.

The NRA, which is monitoring Tepco’s safety measures during the cleanup while evaluating restart applications at other reactors, requested 65 billion yen for the year starting April, up 13 percent from this year. The NRA was set up after the March 11, 2011 disaster to independently review Japan’s nuclear power.

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