The first winning bid for decontamination work in the no-entry zone around the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is being criticized as far too low to properly clean up the radiation.
Maeda Corp. on Jan. 6 signed a contract with the Environment Ministry after winning the Jan. 5 bidding competition with a price of 16.5 million yen ($214,200).
Even the Environment Ministry’s accounting section said Maeda’s bid was far lower than the ministry’s predetermined price, which has not been disclosed.
The work will include cleaning and removing radioactive contamination in a 4-hectare area around the Naraha town office in Fukushima Prefecture. The ministry said it concluded the deal after confirming with the company that the low price would not affect the work.
A public relations official at Maeda declined to comment on the bid.
Shimizu Corp. bid for 18.9 million yen for the contract, while Obayashi Corp. bid 123 million yen and Taisei Corp. bid 277 million yen.
Tadashi Watanabe, a construction company owner who also heads Naraha’s chamber of commerce and industry and is vice chairman of the town's reconstruction review commission, said Maeda’s price of 16.5 million yen was “outrageously low.”
“If they think superficial decontamination, which may not lower radiation levels, would be sufficient, then that's wrong,” Watanabe said.
He estimates the work would cost well over 100 million yen if the area to be decontaminated and the labor size are taken into consideration.
“Since local companies will likely join the project as subcontractors, I hope the Environment Ministry will secure an appropriate budget to create jobs,” Watanabe said.
One industry source said Maeda bid extremely low to ensure it won the first decontamination contract to put itself in a better position for future bids.
“Labor costs alone will not be small,” the source said. “With many decontamination projects coming up, (the low bid) could be a stepping stone (for Maeda).”
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