A lingering topic of the Fukushima incident has been how to go forward. Should nuclear plants in Japan be improved or discontinued. What have been revealed to reporter Hirotoshi Ito by industry insiders are the massive business deals being prepared behind this important social issue.
According to Ito, what we don’t see occurring is what he calls “backspin business” which is profit made off of situations that undo previous progress. Key players that once had the now-dubious honor of building a strong, clean, and safe nuclear power infrastructure are making preparations to profit from its damage.
For example, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has long struggled with the task of disposing of nuclear waste. Local residents of all TEPCO’s desired locations have been understandably hesitant to accept tons of radioactive material into their neighborhoods. Luckily for TEPCO the wasteland of the likely to be decommissioned Fukushima Daini (Number 2) Reactor is now the perfect place for them to set-up a decontamination factory.
Geologically it’s a nice fit due to the shallow bedrock perfect for such an installation. In addition, TEPCO doesn’t have to worry about pesky resistance from concerned residents since one of the worst nuclear accidents in the world already occurred right next door.
Even in 2009, the mayor of Naraha Town, where part of the Daini reactor lies, agreed to let TEPCO set up a waste management facility there, on the suggestion of part of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) then known as Power Reactor and Fuel Development (PNC). Although the city later changed its mind, recent developments and its original acceptance make this deal likely to go through now.
The closing of the Daini Reactor may sound like the end of a progressive nuclear industry and the beginning of Ito’s “backspin business” where companies now make money taking down the mess that they themselves created. However, a former TEPCO employee says different. The company is preparing to create nuclear plants that can withstand any possible threat.
These “perfect nuclear plants” are being designed and tested for situations well beyond what we can realistically expect to happen. Failsafe on top of failsafe is being prepared to make sure that the reactor core can be shut down and cooled in any emergency from anywhere.
This sounds all fine and well but where will TEPCO get the money to pay for all this. For instance, one pump that would have been able to overcome the pressure in the core at Fukushima and allow coolant to be sent in, costs tens of billions of yen. Expect this money to come from the government (via taxpayers) or higher electric bills.
At the moment TEPCO is beaten and can’t expect to see real profits for quite some time. The real winners in this new business are the manufacturers namely Toshiba, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi. These three companies are in a great position to market their experience with Fukushima overseas as “leaders in nuclear safety” in addition to receiving the largely government money for their work on the “perfect plants.”
General contractors are also in line to rake in money. Thanks to their friends at the JAEA, three companies, Kashima, Obayashigumi, and Taiseikensetsu were responsible for building 45 of Japan’s nuclear plants. Now they are looking to JAEA for work decontaminating 12 cities in Fukushima Prefecture. The Japanese government has entrusted JAEA with management of clean-up efforts in the area. If you recall, one of JAEA’s previous incarnations, the PNC, was responsible for the Monju Nuclear Plant accident and cover-up. JAEA has since been bogged down in an expensive effort to restart and maintain that plant for over a decade.
One benefit to regular citizens is the trickle-down revenue local business can make from clean-up crews. Beyond that, the largest investors in this massive project, the Japanese taxpayers, are taking all the risk and getting no dividends. Meanwhile in the words of one TEPCO employee “after the closing and decontamination, [these companies] will be able to put food on the table for decades.”
Original Story: NewsPostSeven