Tepco Marks Anniversary of Earthquake, Tsunami With Silence

  • Company President Hirose speaks before about 700 employees
  • Clean up may take 30 to 40 years to complete, cost $70 billion

Tokyo Electric Power Company broadcast live on its website a memorial of the magnitude 9 earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated northern Japan six years ago and wrecked its Fukushima reactor in one of the worst atomic disasters in history.

Company President Naomi Hirose bowed his head for a moment of silence at 2.46 p.m., the time the disaster struck, before a group of about 700 employees gathered at the company’s new administration building that opened last year on the site of its crippled power station in Fukushima. Hirose apologized to the people affected by the accident and praised his staff for the progress made in the last year.

Naomi Hirose

Photographer: The Asahi Shimbun/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Tepco has been battling to clean up the site of the disaster, a process Hirose said would take 30 to 40 years to complete. The cost of that decommissioning may be 8 trillion yen ($69.7 billion), according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The tsunami knocked out power to cooling systems and led to three reactor-core meltdowns.

The 2011 disaster claimed 15,893 lives and 2,553 people remain missing, the National Police Agency said on March 10. Japan’s Reconstruction Agency said 123,168 people still remained evacuated as of February 28.

Prince Akishino and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at a ceremony at the National Theater of Japan in Tokyo, after also observing a minute’s silence.

“My heart hurts deeply especially when I think of the health of victims who age every year as their lives under evacuation become long term and those who still can’t return to their homes because of high radiation,” said Prince Akishino. “It is the wish of us all that the day comes when each and every person in a difficult situation can get back their peaceful lives.”

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