Shares in Japan nuclear power company plunge again

TOKYO (AP) — Shares in the operator of Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant nosedived again Wednesday amid an onslaught of selling triggered by the radiation leak disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc., known as TEPCO, fell 100 yen, the maximum daily limit, to 466 yen ($5.60) on Wednesday — a fall of 18 percent. The TEPCO stock price plunged 19 percent a day earlier.

TEPCO’s share price has tumbled nearly 80 percent since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and backup systems at the coastal nuclear plant. Radiation from the plant has made its way into the sea, vegetables, raw milk and tap water.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange said investors have dumped TEPCO shares worth 823.7 billion yen ($10 billion) since the March 11 tsunami.

“Investors were worried TEPCO would be burdened by massive compensation for the disaster,” said Masatoshi Sato, market analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. Ltd. “We all know TEPCO must pay hefty damages, but don’t know how much that will cost.”

Japan’s top-selling daily Yomiuri said Tuesday TEPCO would be saddled with several trillion yen, and the government was considering nationalizing the company.

While the government and TEPCO denied the report, Sato said investors remained skeptical.

“Uncertainty over the nuclear disaster and the future of TEPCO is just continuing to accelerate selling,” Sato said.

The company has been under heavy criticism for its handling of the disaster. TEPCO said Wednesday its president was hospitalized due to high blood pressure and dizziness.

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