Monday, August 22, 2011

From the Annals of the Entirely Unsurprising

The NY Times reports today that the Japanese government is about to declare a significant area around the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant as uninhabitable for the foreseeable future.  It's not going to buy the properties in the no-go zone, however.  The Japanese government will rent them instead.  That's a good way of putting off the day of reckoning, which would cost a pretty penny.  (I'm likely off with all of these numbers but the scale is what is important here.)  If we use a price of $200,000 per home, every 5,000 homes condemned would cost about $1 billion to buy.  That's not much compared to Japan's GDP, but renting would only cost about $90 million per year if the monthly rent is $1500.  That adds up quickly, of course, but in 11 or 13 years, when the rental costs surpass the cost of outright purchase plus interest, none of the politicians in charge will be around.

I think what is likely to happen in somewhat cramped Japan is that the worst affected areas will be bought in 5 or 10 years, partially cleaned, and then converted into large industrial districts.  The population of Japan is already declining, so the housing units won't be missed that much (from an economic perspective).  In the meantime, tens of thousands of people will be left in limbo, not able to sell and move on, or go home.  And so the crisis will continue for years, even after the reactors are brought under control.


Nuetron Flux said...

I read your comments at Balloon Juice. You seem well informed about nuclear power. I must ask, do you work in the business?

I rarely post there under the handle Neutron Flux

PeakVT said...

Hi, sorry for the delay. I should read my own blog, huh? No, I don't work in the industry, but I have spent a fair amount of time looking into it in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. I wanted to avoid being affected either by the hysteria of some anti-nuke people and the industry's FUD. I think I manged to learn enough.

I have more posts under the nuclear power tag that you may like, and at least one draft post to finish. Check back in a month or so for that.