Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Japanese Gov't to Rent Land Near Fukushima? Nuts!

There's some things going on about the Fukushima disaster that I just cannot understand. These problems all involve the government handling of the situation. I've written much about my dissatisfaction with that. 

The problem with the entire situation stems from government incompetence and the desire to be all things to all people in this crisis.

Yesterday, it came to fore that areas near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plants will be declared uninhabitable for many ears to come. Does that come as a surprise to anyone? I wouldn't think so.

Now, it seems that the Japanese government is going to reimburse land and property owners near the Fukushima plant by paying them rent for all the coming years that they won't be able to live in their homes. I am completely against this notion and think this is just another government boondoogle that makes the rest of us pay for something that we had nothing to do with.

The New York Times reports:

TOKYO — Broad areas around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades, after a government survey found radioactive contamination that far exceeded safe levels, several major media outlets said Monday.

The formal announcement, expected from the government in coming days, would be the first official recognition that the March accident could force the long-term depopulation of communities near the plant, an eventuality that scientists and some officials have been warning about for months. Lawmakers said over the weekend — and major newspapers reported Monday — that Prime Minister Naoto Kan was planning to visit Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is, as early as Saturday to break the news directly to residents. The affected communities are all within 12 miles of the plant, an area that was evacuated immediately after the accident.

Why is this a surprise? Didn't everyone expect this long ago? When the government announced a few weeks ago that they were planning to allow residents to return this year, didn't everyone think they were talking like the fools that they are?
The government is expected to tell many of these residents that they will not be permitted to return to their homes for an indefinite period. It will also begin drawing up plans for compensating them by, among other things, renting their now uninhabitable land. While it is unclear if the government would specify how long these living restrictions would remain in place, news reports indicated it could be decades. That has been the case for areas around the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine after its 1986 accident.

Like I said, under what twisted rules will the government determine the land value of these areas? Their current value must be zero, right? What is the difference between this and the US government buying all those billions of dollar of so-called "toxic-assets" from the failing uS banking system? There isn't any. It is just throwing public money down the toilet.
Since the Fukushima accident, evacuations have been a sensitive topic for the government, which has been criticized for being slow to admit the extent of the disaster and trying to limit the size of the areas affected, despite possible risks to public health. Until now, Tokyo had been saying it would lift the current evacuation orders for most areas around the plant early next year, when workers are expected to stabilize Fukushima Daiichi’s damaged nuclear reactors.

Ha! No one who has been paying any attention even thinks anything the government says is anything but a sick joke. Once again, they show their total incompetence and lack of common sense and delusion. Kan and his cronies keep hoping that things will get better but as a friend once told me, "Hope isn't a very good business plan." How in the world it is that Kan is still prime minister is astounding.
The government was apparently forced to alter its plans after the survey by the Ministry of Science and Education, released over the weekend, which showed even higher than expected radiation levels within the 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant. The most heavily contaminated spot was in the town of Okuma about two miles southwest of the plant, where someone living for a year would be exposed to 508.1 millisieverts of radiation — far above the level of 20 millesieverts per year that the government considers safe.
The survey found radiation above the safe level at three dozen spots up to 12 miles from the plant. That has called into question how many residents will actually be able to return to their homes even after the plant is stabilized.

The only good note that can be deemed from all of this is that, with everyone being so nervous and doing some serious checking and investigation, that no one has found any wide contamination in Tokyo is a good thing. Let's hope it stays that way and people remain vigilant.

Frankly speaking, in a nutshell, here's what I think:

1) The TEPCO nuclear power plant is a privately owned business. When they made profits, they kept them. When they lose money (as in the recent accident) I don't understand why the public has to bail them out. They make a profit, they pocket the money. They lose money and the public has to pay through increased taxation? Does that seem fair to you? It doesn't to me.

2) Once again, the government is easy to spread around public tax monies paid for by you and me.... After all, it's not their money.

3) This sounds really cold, but the people who lived around those nuclear power plants profited in their businesses and livelihoods for decades due to the business and economic benefits those nuclear power plants provided as a main source of jobs and revenue for the people living in the area. Why are they different than TEPCO? They profited for many years off of businesses and jobs created by the TEPCO plant. Now that there has been a terrible accident, why do the rest of us have to pay them rent for their houses that they can no longer live in?

4) Who will decide the amount of rent to be paid? Surely we will be paying way over current market value on those properties as their current value - since the disaster - must be close to zero.

5) Why are we, the public, being asked to pay for these properties? What is the purpose of private so-called "fire and marine" insurance? (Insurance for covering accidents and disasters befalling private property?) If the owners of property had no insurance, then that is their stupidity and loss. Why should the rest of us pay for that?  When, say, a property on a mountainside is burned down in a fire, are the rest of us expected to pay for that property owner's loss? No.

The disaster of March 11 is a tragedy for those who lost homes, family and livelihoods. These sorts of occurrences are why there is insurance. There is no good reason that the government has volunteered for the rest of us to pay for these people's losses. They profited from the good times, they must suffer for the bad. 

Paying these people, like paying TEPCO, is not fair. It is the same as the US government using tax monies to bail out the big banks when they were in trouble.

The rest of us didn't experience personal or financial gain from the good times, we should not be expected to pay for the bad.

I am against this sort of expenditure of public monies whether it is to be spent to help a private business like TEPCO or a private landowner like those who lived near the Fukushima reactors. People must have known the risk. They should have moved if they didn't like the chances. The rest of us should not be expected to pay for their poor judgement or bad luck.

That is what insurance is for.

As with all tragic events, I wish for good luck for those people and survivors of these disasters... But I can't see how you or I should be forced to pay for it.


Marc Sheffner said...

What about those poor abalone farmers, then? Their livelihoods have been wiped out. They deserve a big handout. And what about you and me, and all those suffering anxiety and depression because of this disaster? I think we deserve compensation, don't you? ;-) After all, deficits don't matter. That nice Mr. Cheney said so, so it must be true.

Marc Sheffner said...

They - sorry, you and I and all Japanese taxpayers - could be paying this rent for a long time: "Ecological Half-Life" of Caesium 137 could be 180 to 320 Years!"

People living today have been brought up on a diet of Fabian socialism and diluted Marxism and most of them don't know it. It is now taken for granted that the government is or should be in charge of pretty well everything. The idea that any government stand by and do nothing is insane to most people. What might be convincing (or at least nudge folks to considering alternatives) is suggestions/scenarios. The locals do have a case, because of the possible fraud (unenforced safety checks, etc) and the decades of "it's perfectly safe" (see EX-SKF's blog posts on Prof. Medarame for details) propaganda.

OK, so the government does nothing. What then? How might private initiatives manage the situation? Simply saying the government should do nothing won't get you a hearing (except with the already converted nutcases like me).

A future blog entry, perhaps?

Marc Sheffner said...

Prof. Lenz (Law prof. not a nuke expert) thinks the evacuations may not be necessary, let alone the rent payments.

JT said...

It will be over 200 years of payments then. That area will not be able to be inhabited for many lifetimes. Its also a rather large area of Japan too. Reaching from Saitama to Hokkaido.

Anonymous said...

The government had to back Tepco or as a private company they would have simply gone bust, filed for bankruptcy and closed the doors. No one would receive compensation but more importantly, the plant would have had no employees so the state would have had to take over the disaster anyway, they can't just leave it and hope for the best.

Insurance - yes, people should have their own insurance. If they didn't want to pay as they considered the risk low and the premium high, well that was their choice. Now they see the need for insurance.

I also agree that they benefited from subsidies from the central government to support this facility. They did not complain when these handouts were subsidising their local infrastructure and amenities did they? Now they have the real cost benefit of a nuclear reactor and suddenly they realise it is not so beneficial; financially or socially.

I just hope that people start to calculate the true economic cost of nuclear power and stop pretending it is cheap. 200 years of none productivity for this area, what is the cost? In a country where land is scarce? Now do the real sums and consider the cost / benefit.

Obviously many people are innocent bystanders that were just getting on with their own lives before and not really taking much interest in the nuclear plant. They don't really deserve such harsh treatment and Tokyo has also benefited greatly from the cheap electricity costs so don't pretend you are the hard done to innocent tax payer either. Share the cost of your joint failings to sort out the mess of the power industry in Japan. It is not as if it wasn't known before this disaster about the cosy relationships that kept everything running to the benefit of many in politics and corporate companies. Where was the media during this time? Why were they not highlighting the problems and calling for change? All seems very cosy in Japan, let's not upset anyone and instead just concentrate on changing the prime minister every year to fill the news.

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