TOKYO, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Japan's electricity customers may have to pay more in order to cover the cost of decommissioning the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Sources on the issue said the cost of terminating the nuclear power station is now estimated to be about $178.14 billion, nearly double the figure from the country's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Kyodo News reported Monday.
The plant was badly damaged during a catastrophic earthquake on March 11, 2011, and was the cause of a nuclear crisis that has led to, among other problems, radiation and even a possible surge in cancer among children near the disaster zone.
The meltdown at Fukushima, a six-reactor plant, has been described as the worst nuclear disaster since the one in Chernobyl in 1986.
The latest estimate from Kyodo's sources shows Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.'s compensation payments are to increase from $48.1 billion to $71.3 billion.
Decontamination costs are to double to $44.5 billion, according to the report.
Billions of dollars are also required to decommission reactors and resolve the issue of radioactive water at the plant.
Tokyo is expected to discuss reforms for Tepco, and is researching the possible expansion of an interest-free loan program for the utility.
The new estimate comes less than a week after a second earthquake hit the coast of Fukushima, which did not produce abnormalities at nuclear power stations in the area.