The Japanese government has vowed to take “a more hands on approach” in dealing with the clean up of the Fukushima nuclear plant including the use of public funds.
Conditions have been deteriorating at the plant, with the Toyko Electric Power Company (TEPCO) struggling to stop leaks from the growing stores of radioactive water used to cool melted fuel rods.
The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reportedly said the government “will step forward and implement all necessary policies” to deal with the problems. A senior official is also reported as saying the government will present a “comprehensive package of measures” as soon as Tuesday.
Over the weekend TEPCO found radiation levels 18 times higher than previously measured near one of the water storage tanks – the latest in a long line of admissions by the utility company. A few weeks ago it announced 300 tonnes of radioactive water had leaked from another of the storage tanks because of a faulty valve and earlier in August it was forced to admit contaminated water been continuously seeping into the Pacific Ocean – as much as 300 tonnes each day by some accounts.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters: “The government has stayed in the background and extended support for Tokyo Electric’s effort to tackle the problem of contaminated water. But we’ve now decided that Tokyo Electric’s patchwork response has reached its limit and the government needs to come forward and quickly respond, even by using budget reserves.”
There have also been proposals to create a government agency with the sole purpose of decommissioning the wrecked plant.