Anxieties grow about radiation costs

A growing number of municipalities are demanding that Tokyo Electric Power Co. compensate them for costs related to the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO has specified the terms under which it will compensate companies and other entities, based on guidelines set by the government, but it has revealed no such terms for municipal governments.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Yoshio Kusama of Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, visited TEPCO's headquarters in Tokyo.

Takahagi is about 80 kilometers from the plant.

Kusama asked the utility to pay 9.84 million yen (S$165,746) for decontamination work conducted from June to October and the purchase of radiation dosimeters.

It was the city's second such demand to TEPCO--in June, it became one of the first municipalities to seek compensation from the utility, demanding 2.05 million yen.

"I'll keep making demands until work to deal with the nuclear crisis ends. I mean until there are no more costs [for the work]," Kusama told TEPCO Managing Director Naomi Hirose, who is deputy head of a task force to support people affected by the nuclear crisis.

"I'm telling you this while repressing [my anger] to one-tenth, one-hundredth of its true level," Kusama said.

Hirose responded, "We apologize for causing difficulty," and bowed. However, he did not say whether TEPCO would pay the money.

Municipal governments, particularly in the Tokyo metropolitan area, have increasingly requested compensation from TEPCO. As of Wednesday, at least 18 municipalities had demanded a total of 705.74 million yen.

Hitachi-Ota, Ibaraki Prefecture, is home to the 375-meter-long Ryujin Big Suspension Bridge, the longest bridge on Honshu. About 250,000 tourists usually visit the bridge annually.

However, as bridge toll revenues from April to August declined to less than 30 per cent compared with the same period last year, the city has called on TEPCO to pay 26.72 million yen in compensation.

The city of Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, has demanded 287.1 million yen, including 9.6 million yen to pay its employees for special work related to temporarily storing incinerated ash and other contaminated waste.

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