Shares in the operator of Japan's tsunami-wrecked nuclear power plant plunged to their lowest ever Tuesday amid growing doubts about its ability to contain the radiation leak disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc., known as TEPCO, dropped 80 yen _ the maximum daily limit, or 18 percent, to just 362 yen ($4.3), falling below its previous all-time closing low of 393 yen from December 1951.
TEPCO's coastal Fukushima plant has been leaking radiation since a March 11 quake and tsunami knocked out crucial cooling systems for its nuclear reactors, leading to explosions and fires. The company is now struggling to contain radioactive water leaks.
Since the quake, TEPCO's share price has nose-dived a staggering 80 percent. The Tokyo Stock Exchange said investors have dumped TEPCO shares worth 1.06 trillion yen since March 11.
"Investors are continuing to sell TEPCO shares due to uncertainty over the nuclear crisis. Especially, yesterday's move to dump radioactive water into the ocean unnerved investors," said Kazuhiro Takahashi, equity analyst at Daiwa SMBC Securities Co. Ltd.
TEPCO said Monday it would release low-level radioactive water from its crippled nuclear power complex to make room for the storage of more highly radioactive water that has been hampering efforts to stabilize the reactors.
TEPCO is likely be saddled with massive compensation claims that some analysts estimate at several trillion yen.
The company said Tuesday it would postpone the release of its annual earnings report, scheduled on April 28, due to the ongoing radiation crisis. It declined to give further details.
TEPCO Vice President Takashi Fujimoto said the company takes seriously the plunge in TEPCO stocks. Fujimoto said he does not know what will happen to the board.
"Questions are being raised about managerial responsibility, but I don't know what will happen to the board membership," Fujimoto said.
AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report.