Updated: September 19, 2013 07:30 PM GMT
Picture AFP/Japan Pool
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pictured, in red helmet) on Sept. 19 urged Tokyo Electric Power Co. to decommission the two surviving reactors at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant and set a time frame to resolve the radioactive water problem.
Abe requested Naomi Hirose, the TEPCO president, to secure a sufficient budget for safety measures and to deal with the tons of contaminated water accumulating and leaking at the plant.
“In order for them to concentrate on this, I have asked them to decommission the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that are now halted,” Abe told reporters.
TEPCO plans to decommission the two reactors and convert the buildings into research and development facilities for the tougher task of decommissioning the four other reactors destroyed by meltdowns and hydrogen explosions after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake rocked the Tohoku region and a tsunami slammed into the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The No. 5 and No. 6 reactors were not operating at the time and escaped serious damage.
Abe quoted Hirose as saying that TEPCO “will secure another 1 trillion yen ($10.1 billion) in addition to 1 trillion yen already obtained.” The TEPCO chief also promised that the purification of contaminated water will be completed by the end of fiscal 2014.
Scrapping the two reactors could complicate a turnaround plan the plant’s operator has presented to creditors.
TEPCO, which has posted more than $27 billion in net losses since the 2011 disaster, is negotiating with a syndicate of Japanese banks for a refinancing of 80 billion yen due next month.
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