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Japan's TEPCO reports loss of $7.4 billion

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Japanese police wearing chemical protection suits search for victims inside the 20 kilometer radius around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on April 15, 2011. UPI/Keizo Mori
Japanese police wearing chemical protection suits search for victims inside the 20 kilometer radius around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on April 15, 2011. UPI/Keizo Mori | License Photo

TOKYO, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- In the wake of the March Fukushima nuclear catastrophe Tokyo Electric Power Co. has reported an operating loss of $7.4 billion.

TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa has cautioned that the company expects further losses to be incurred over restoration and compensation costs at the crippled power facility.

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"We will put in our best effort," Nishizawa said in a briefing in Tokyo. "We have not been able to make an assessment at this time. We will not fall into negative net worth once the funds start flowing in. Since the funds to be provided by the entity will be valuable taxpayer money, we will do as much as we can on our own through streamlining efforts."

TEPCO blamed its massive losses on the compensation bill it faces for the partial meltdown at the Fukushima I station in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the facility's six nuclear reactors.

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Last week Japan's Parliament approved a bailout scheme backed by taxpayer funding and contributions from other utilities to help TEPCO cope with a compensation bill that analysts believe could finally total as much as $130 billion.

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Work continues at the site.

"The accident has not been resolved but we have been making progress steadily," Japanese Minister of Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda said in a government report. "We will continue our utmost effort so that we can bring this to an end as soon as possible."

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On July 19 TEPCO announced that it had stabilized cooling the Fukushima reactors and fuel pools and reduced radioactivity levels to one/two-millionth of the levels measured immediately after March 11incident.

TEPCO is proceeding with work aiming to achieve the cold shutdown of the reactors over the next three to six months, a prerequisite for the lifting of the no-entry and planned-evacuation zones, allowing evacuees to be allowed to return to their homes.

"We will continue to make an all-out effort to achieve a condition where radiation levels can be significantly reduced, in order to enable people who have been evacuated due to the accident to return to their homes as early as possible and to deliver peace of mind to the public," Nishizawa said at a news conference July 19.

TEPCO's plans for Fukushima envisage removing spent fuel rods from the site's storage pools within the next three years and the construction of containers to isolate the fuel remaining in the reactors.

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