2017/06/23 New TEPCO Chairman Confronted by Bankrupt Business Model

プレスリリース - 2017-06-23
Tokyo, 23 June 2017 - The new Chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) is confronted with a systemic crisis, which will prevent the restart of its nuclear reactors for many years and with no possibility to cover the tens of trillions of yen in costs for the Fukushima nuclear accident, Greenpeace Japan warned today. A new analysis by Greenpeace of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture concludes that even restart of units 6&7 is unlikely before 2021 at the earliest, with other reactors almost certainly remaining shutdown for 15-20 years[1]. This will eventually force TEPCO to opt for decommissioning for multiple reactors at the site.

(Photo by Masaya Noda)

TEPCO is holding its annual shareholders meeting today, the first for its new Chairman, Takashi Kawamura, while the criminal trial of Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of TEPCO in 2011 and two other executives, opens on 30 June at the Tokyo District Court. Greenpeace activists protested this morning outside the shareholders meeting with the message that TEPCO and Toshiba’s nuclear power leads to financial meltdown. Greenpeace Japan owns one unit of shares (100) of TEPCO. Inside the shareholders meeting a Greenpeace campaigner will question the executives on nuclear safety risks at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa reactors and their  unrealistic business plan relying on these reactors.

Recent cost estimates for the Fukushima Daiichi accident range from ¥50-70 trillion (US$440-629 billion), as much as three times the latest 2016 government estimates of ¥21 trillion.[1] TEPCO’s new business plan, announced in May 2017, committed it to securing ¥500 billion each year to cover its share of the Fukushima disaster of ¥16 trillion. The TEPCO plan is based on the official cost estimate of ¥21 trillion not ¥50-70 trillion. TEPCO is highly dependent on early restart of the Kashiwazaki Kariwa reactors, which it will fail to do, and therefore even for the lower Fukushima costs it will be unable secure sufficient funds. The consequences are that rather than TEPCO covering costs for Fukushima, the government will seek to increase the financial burden for rate and tax payers and other power companies, including new market entrants.

“TEPCO’s business plan, like the company itself, is essentially bankrupt even before the new Chairman takes up his post. The company knows that there are no prospects for the early restart of even two of its reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa and that government cost estimates for the Fukushima disaster will inevitably rise. The people of Japan, including TEPCO shareholders, are being sold an illusion, the end result of which will see further government efforts to pass tens of trillions of yen onto higher electricity rates and taxes,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, currently in Japan. 

TEPCO is aiming to restart Kashiwazaki Kariwa reactor units 6&7 as early as 2019, but concedes that it could be 2021. The reality is that there is no credible timetable for any restart. There are 23 seismic fault lines running through the site, it is vulnerable to soil liquefaction, and all the reactors have major unresolved safety issues, including the possibility that the Reactor Pressure Vessels are at increased risk of catastrophic failure.[2] Three of the reactors have been shut down for ten years, with TEPCO projecting that they may not restart until 2024-2026.

A new committee to be established by the Governor of Niigata will evaluate the Fukushima Daiichi accident, including its impacts, as well as review of emergency evacuation plans in the prefecture, and will not complete its work until 2020. Though TEPCO won’t admit it – in the next few years they will have to present plans for decommissioning a number of their Kashiwazaki Kariwa reactors. A citizen led lawsuit against restart is on-going.

“TEPCO’s business outlook is wholly negative, based as it is on plan that is not viable and which offers no real solutions. By extension, it exposes the deep flaws in current Japanese energy policy and its unrealistic nuclear share target of 20-22 percent by 2030. If Chairman Kawamura wants to avoid the risk of ending up in court like his predecessor he would be wise to start preparing a radically new business model based not on nuclear power but renewable energy,” said Burnie.

Photos from Greenpeace’s protest at the TEPCO shareholders meeting are available from Chisato Jono.  Please call at 080-6558-4446.

[1]  TEPCO's Atomic Illusion - Greenpeace Japan Briefing
[2] Japan Center for Economic Research, “Accident Cleanup Costs May Rise to ¥50-70 Trillion - It’s Time to Examine legal liquidation of TEPCO - Higher Transparency is Needed for the Reasons to Maintaining Nuclear Power”, Tatsuo Kobayashi, Principal Economist, Professor Tatsujiro Suzuki, Specially Appointed Fellow (Director of Nagasaki University Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition), Kazumasa Iwata, JCER President.

[3]  Large&Associates, “Irregularities and Anomolies Relating to Nuclear Reactor Primary Cooling Circuit Components Installed in Japanese Nuclear Power Plants”, Large&Associates, commissioned by Greenpeace Japan, 10th December 2016.

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist, Greenpeace Germany, email: , mob: +81 (0)80-3694-2843 (Currently based in Japan)

Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, email: , mob: +81 (0) 80-6558-4446