TOKYO, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will be required to raise funds for the decommissioning of the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant following the passing of a bill in parliament on Wednesday.
Under the law revised with the passage of the newly-passed bill, the government-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. will be involved in the decommissioning of the stricken plant in a bid for the government to assert more control over the utility hemorrhaging its profits.
The cost of decommissioning the facility that went through multiple meltdowns in the wake of an earthquake-triggered tsunami knocking out its key cooling functions in March 2011 has surged from previous estimates of 2 trillion yen (17.56 billion U.S. dollars) to 8 trillion yen (70.24 billion U.S. dollars) and a state panel has called for funds to be raised without affecting the embattled utility's performance.
The government forecasts that the plant's decommissioning work, as well as compensation payouts and costs related to ongoing decontamination work, will amount to some 21.5 trillion yen (188.77 billion U.S. dollars) in total.
The new bill will require TEPCO, under the supervision of the government-backed organization, to set aside an annual sum each business year to be approved by the industry minister.
The amount eyed by the industry ministry required each year to be banked by the utility is around 300 billion yen for a period of 30 years.
The use of reserve funds for decommissioning work will also have to be signed off by the industry minister under the new scheme.
Private think tanks have put estimates for decommissioning the plant at being far higher than the government's estimates.
TEPCO is also eyeing the restarting of four of its seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant in Niigata Prefecture from April 2019 as means to secure more finances.
The local governor, however, is skeptical about the reactors going back online.