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Japan's TEPCO logs $7.4bn quarterly loss
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 9, 2011

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Tuesday reported a first-quarter loss of $7.4 billion following the March radiation disaster.

The world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and has heavily damaged farming, fisheries and tourism in the fallout zone.

TEPCO, long one of the world's biggest power companies, has also suffered shortfalls in electricity output as the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and other plants have stayed offline since the March 11 quake.

The company announced a net loss of 571.8 billion yen for the April-June period -- largely due to an extraordinary loss of 503 billion yen for compensation and other costs linked to the disaster.

TEPCO has had to pay for large-scale emergency operations at Fukushima, including the decontamination of water used to cool reactors.

The company's operating loss reached 52.0 billion yen, compared with an operating profit of 62.9 billion yen for the same period a year ago. Sales dropped 7.2 percent on-year to 1.13 trillion yen.

The company did not issue a forecast for the full fiscal year to March 2012 and warned of a risk that its finances could deteriorate to the point where it can no longer operate as a private firm.

TEPCO president Toshio Nishizawa said his company had paid 70.9 billion yen in provisional compensation and sold assets worth 11.5 billion yen during the quarter to secure capital needed to run the company.

Rising fuel cost had pressured the company, which has relied on thermal plants to make up for damaged and idled nuclear reactors, he told a press conference in Tokyo.

"TEPCO is no doubt in a difficult situation in terms of securing funds," he said. "We will make thorough efforts to cut costs and make asset sales in order to secure funds," Nishizawa said.

The initial impact of the disaster hit TEPCO in the previous quarter, when it reported a 1.24 trillion yen net loss for the fiscal year to March 31, the biggest ever for a Japanese non-financial company.

The nuclear disaster started when a magnitude-9.0 seabed quake and a massive tsunami hit the six-reactor plant almost five months ago, knocking out cooling systems and sparking meltdowns and a series of explosions.

The plant has since leaked radiation into the air, ground and sea, forcing the evacuation of more than 85,000 people from a 20-kilometre (12-mile) zone around the plant and more from radiation hotspots further afield.

The disaster has contaminated farm produce including vegetables, dairy products, fish, mushrooms and green tea. Regional beef shipments have been banned after cattle were found to have been fed contaminated rice straw.

Japan's parliament last week passed a law to create a state-backed entity that would pool funds from TEPCO and other nuclear power companies as well as the government to guarantee that compensation can be paid out.

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Japan PM in Hiroshima vows nuclear-free future
Hiroshima, Japan (AFP) Aug 6, 2011
A ceremony on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing was dominated by national soul-searching on atomic power as Japan's prime minister pledged a nuclear-free future. Marking the 66th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing at an annual event usually devoted to opposing nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the ongoing Fukushima crisis meant Japan must tur ... read more

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