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Fukushima owner boasts $4.3 billion profit from rate hikes, government bailouts

Sunday, May 04, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: Fukushima, TEPCO, government bailouts

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(NaturalNews) The company that owns and is responsible for cleanup efforts at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan is reportedly raking in at least $4.3 billion in net profits annually, according to The Economic Times. Thanks to steady rate hikes and a large government bailout following the disaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has done quite well for itself in recent years, despite continued blunders involving radiation cleanup and containment measures at the plant.

Following the 2011 disaster, TEPCO was having a difficult time staying afloat. This prompted the Japanese government to throw 1.8 trillion yen, the equivalent of about $17.6 billion, at the company to compensate for its unprecedented losses, not to mention to cover the costs associated with ensuring that Fukushima radiation did not spoil the whole planet. TEPCO also raised electricity rates throughout Japan to gather more cash.

While radiation spews, TEPCO takes in record profits

TEPCO got its money, of course, posting profits that topped 438 billion yen during the most recent fiscal year -- this is in stark contrast to the monumental 685.3 billion yen loss the company incurred just one year prior. And yet, despite this enormous surge in cash flow, the situation at Fukushima is still dire, with new reports suggesting that a proposed "ice wall" will do little or nothing to protect groundwater and oceans from ongoing contamination.

"Shouldn't they be paying back the government loans and what about compensation to those affected?" commented one person over at Japan Today about TEPCO's insane profits. "There should be no net profit, only pay back."

The profits are particularly stinging when considering the fact that TEPCO had previously ordered injured workers and their family members to give back renumeration payments, all the while failing time and time again to protect groundwater and the Pacific Ocean from radiation poisoning. The entire Fukushima cleanup effort has been one big debacle, to put it plainly, and the company responsible for this mess is reaping benefits from it.

"This is an absolute disgrace in my eyes as they have continually proven [their] reluctance to improve, refusal to provide renumeration for the refugees, and their continued amateur approach of handling the Fukushima Daiichi plant and surrounding area," wrote another commenter in a public forum about TEPCO's profits.

"Yet they get a seemingly free pass from one of the largest government infusions of money to a private corporation, now mostly owned by the [government], and on top of that they're allowed to fleece their customers with 8 to 10% higher rates since 2012 when they were already proven to be overcharging for decades."

Global threat from Fukushima still very real

Meanwhile, reports continue to surface about radioactive fish being caught off the U.S. West Coast, for instance, and other similar contamination events that are still occurring more than three years after the initial disaster. Many of the remediation efforts taking place at the facility simply aren't working, which some say is an indicator that an international approach to cleanup is essential.

"It's embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don't have full control," stated Akira Ono, the current manager of the Fukushima plant, during a recent interview. "It may sound odd, but this is the bill we have to pay for what we have done in the past three years. ... [W]e were pressed to build [containment] tanks in a rush and may have not paid enough attention to quality."

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