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The Cost of Fukushima -- 31 March 2011

How much will the Fukushima nuclear power disaster cost the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Japanese economy, and the Japanese taxpayer?

A rough estimate based on current conditions is something around $50 billion. TEPCO's salable assets are only worth about half of that.

$50B in economic damages and the company is worth half that --

Tokyo, you have a problem!

Certainly something like that could not happen here in the USA, could it?

Certainly the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must make sure that Nuclear companies have enough assets, enough insurance, to cover any damage that would happen if God-forbid, such a Fukushima-type event happened here?   (Say during one of those every-other-year 100-year floods, or something ...)

You might think so -- but you would be wrong.

Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act

The main purpose of the Act is to partially indemnify the nuclear industry against liability claims arising from nuclear incidents while still ensuring compensation coverage for the general public. The Act establishes a no fault insurance-type system in which the first approximately $12.6 billion (as of 2011) is industry-funded as described in the Act. Any claims above the $12.6 billion would be covered by a Congressional mandate to retroactively increase nuclear utility liability or would be covered by the federal government.

Funding and procedures

Power reactor licensees are required by the act to obtain the maximum amount of insurance against nuclear related incidents which is available in the insurance market (as of 2011[update], $375 million per plant). Any monetary claims that fall within this maximum amount are paid by the insurer(s).

The Price-Anderson fund, which is financed by the reactor companies themselves, is then used to make up the difference. Each reactor company is obliged to contribute up to $111.9 million per reactor in the event of an accident with claims that exceed the $375 million insurance limit. As of 2011[update],  the maximum amount of the fund is approximately $12.22 billion. [...]


The Price-Anderson Act has been criticized by various think tanks and environmental organizations, including Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace International, Public Citizen and the Cato Institute. Public Citizen has been particularly critical of Price-Anderson; it claims that the Act understates the risks inherent in atomic power, does not require reactors to carry adequate insurance, and would therefore result in taxpayers footing most of the bill for a catastrophic accident.[8]  [...]

What does that mean in plain English?

Fukushima nuclear accident could cost tax-payer $Trillions
by Christina MacPherson --  May 6, 2011

[...] As the Associated Press reports,
"In America, where no new reactors have been planned and completed since the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, the necessary insurance for nuclear operators is capped at just $375 million by law, with further claims funded by the utilities, up to a maximum of $12.6 billion."

Ultimate costs from accidents can be difficult to predict, but many estimates place total damages, including economic loss, in the Trillions. You can read more on this discussion here, and also access a 1982 report to Congress that estimated the public health impacts and financial damages if a severe accident were to occur at an existing nuclear reactor site.

An industry-wide Liability maximum of $12.6 Billion -- But, but, in Japan the Economic Fallout alone, of from Fukushima is calculated to be $50 Billion -- nearly 4X the US Damages Fund ceiling.

Who picks up the difference, if say the Missouri River keeps rising?   Or the San Andreas keeps, faulting?

Hello US Taxpayers!  Get out your checkbooks ...

Imagine our surprise when we one day start getting those bottomless bills ... it could leave one speechless ... like this ...

As I wrote in a piece earlier today ...

Here's an idea, if Nuclear Corporations continue to insist on "squeezing every last drop of juice" out of their aging, creeky, old clunkers ... for Boiling Water.

Then those very same Nuclear Corporations should have to pick up their own Liability Insurance on those shelf-life-expired "Steam Engines" of theirs ...

-- and Quit sticking the American People with the Final Costs and the Damages, if ever one of their Steam Engines suffers an unforeseen breakdown ... like most Engines will eventually do, if you keep running them 'into the ground'.

Say, IF keeping those aging Nuclear Power Plants running, were such a great bet, wouldn't Wall Street be "jumping in" on that investment action?

There is a reason why Insurance Underwriters won't get within 10-miles of a Nuclear Power Plant -- and that's the same reason we have the "Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act", codified into law ...

Some Risks are just TOO Great to Take -- for ordinary Corporations that is.

Those are that kind of systemic Risks that Society and Taxpayers must ultimately absorb, if God-forbid, one of those Passed Life-expectancy Power Plants, somehow manages to blow a gasket or something.

But that would "Never Happen" -- just ask Wall Street or Swiss Reinsurance Company Ltd.

Never, in a Million -- strike that -- in a hundred years!  {er, ... the next dozen years, if your lucky that is ...}

Never happen, people.   Just Trust Them.

They're the adults, in the room, afterall.

Originally posted to Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. on Sun Jul 03, 2011 at 08:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK.

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