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As Japan weighs energy options, costs mount for idled reactors

Published on Apr 9, 2014 6:42 AM
Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees wearing protective suits and masks walk past storage tanks for radioactive water in the H4 area at the tsunami-crippled TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture on Nov 7, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Since March 2011, Japan's government has focused on the cost of cleaning up after Fukushima, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

Now, the bill is coming for another unbudgeted consequence of that disaster - shutting down the nation's 48 remaining nuclear reactors for costly safety reviews that could see many of them mothballed.

While their reactors have been idle, Japan's nuclear plant operators have had to spend around US$87 billion (S$109 billion) to burn replacement fossil fuels. This, in part, explains the utilities' estimated combined losses of around US$47 billion as of March, and the US$60 billion wiped off the companies' market value.

That pain is beginning to tell.

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