A panel of government officials organized by Japan's ruling Liberal Democrat party is weighing whether to break up the utilities giant Tepco, the company responsible for the 2012 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, Quartz reported.
Options include creating a separate internal department dedicated to handling the cleanup, spinning off a unit into a separate company solely responsible for the cleanup effort, or transforming the cleanup entity into a government agency. A source close to the panel told Reuters that the first option is favored because it is the least extreme, but that there are many critics willing to take a harder line against the company.
The announcement comes as the drumbeat of negative headlines concerning the plant continues. During the past year there have been several incidents where radioactive water was spilled during waste transfers at the plant, and the cleanup effort has been plagued by worker shortages and interference from organized crime.
“When the beast has fallen in the water, that’s your only chance to finally defeat it,” Naoki Inose, vice governor of the Tokyo metropolitan government, told the Financial Times.
The disaster at Fukushima occurred on March 11, 2011 after a tsunami caused by an undersea earthquake caused massive equipment failures at the plant, precipitating the second-worst nuclear disaster in the planet's history after the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl.