Tepco gets approval for $9.3b more compensation funds

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) on Monday received approval to tap the Japanese government for S$9.3 billion more funds to compensate those harmed by the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Tepco issued a statement saying the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had approved the utility's request to increase compensation by 697 billion yen (S$9.3 billion), or 22 per cent, to 3.24 trillion yen.

The increase was requested because of changes to requirements for receiving compensation. About 160,000 people were evacuated from areas around the plant after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 caused reactor meltdowns and the worst radiological release since 1986. Tepco has admitted it was insufficiently prepared for natural disasters.

Compensation funds do not include costs to decommission the four damaged reactor buildings inside the Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo.

Tepco also said on Monday that it had a 2.22 billion yen loss for the nine months through December and almost tripled its full-year loss forecast to 120 billion yen Tepco officials said in November the costs of compensation and decontamination may double to 10 trillion yen, making greater government support vital.

All but two of Japan's 50 reactors have been halted for maintenance and safety checks to see if they could withstand an earthquake and tsunami similar the March 2011 disaster.

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