TEPCO Officials Face Heckling, Jeers at Annual Meeting

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 1:05 am (UTC-5)
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Directors of the Tokyo Electric Power Company faced a barrage of insults from angry shareholders Tuesday at the company's first annual meeting since a March 11 tsunami disabled its Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Several hundred shareholders backed a resolution calling for the company to get out of the nuclear power business, while others demanded the resignation of the company's top officers. Police stood guard outside the meeting, where residents who have been forced from their homes gathered in a separate protest.

Many of the shareholders have been financially ruined by the accident, in which three reactors suffered meltdowns and radiation has leaked into the air, soil and ocean. Shares in the once-safe company have lost more than 85 percent of their value while rating agencies have reduced TEPCO's credit rating to junk status.

The Japanese government has announced a plan to help TEPCO compensate farmers, fishermen and others for their financial losses, but the massive size of the bill could still ruin the company. TEPCO said last month it lost $15 billion in its last fiscal year, one of the largest losses in Japanese corporate history.

Plant operators are still struggling to bring three reactors at the Fukushima facility under control, a process that is expected to run into next year.

In the latest setback, officials were forced to shut down a new water recycling system on Monday just 90 minutes after putting it into operation because water was leaking from the pipes.