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Interim storage agreement

February 26, 2015

Trio of approvals in Fukushima seals deal for radioactive soil dump



Interim storage agreement


Ending a prolonged and often contentious process, Fukushima Prefecture and two town governments agreed to host an interim storage facility for contaminated debris from the 2011 nuclear crisis.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba met Feb. 25 with Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki and Wataru Takeshita, the reconstruction minister, to sign safety agreements, an important hurdle in the process.

Under the deal, the facility will store tainted soil generated from decontamination work for a maximum of 30 years.

Despite the agreement, the mayors said the decision was not easy.

“This is an agonizing decision, but it is unavoidable,” said Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe.

Referring to future negotiations to purchase the land in question, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said, “I hope there will be no heavy-handed methods that will only lead to criticism from the local community.”

The storage facility will be built in an area covering part of the two towns and surrounding the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. It will cover 16 square kilometers, roughly the size of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward.

The central government will construct a facility to burn material brought to the site to reduce the overall volume of tainted debris.

Contaminated soil being temporarily stored in various locations throughout Fukushima Prefecture will be transported to the new site.

The idea for the interim facility was first raised in August 2011, when Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan held the reins of the government.

It has taken more than three years to finalize the site for the facility, partly because of concerns raised by local governments in the prefecture, as well as extended negotiations over conditions for purchasing land for the facility.

In September 2014, then Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato indicated to the Abe administration that the prefectural government would approve the facility.

Around that time, the prefectural government stipulated five conditions that would have to be met before approval was given. One was that a law be enacted clearly designating a location outside Fukushima Prefecture as the final storage site after the 30-year period for the interim facility ends.

The final condition was the safety agreement signed Feb. 25.

Local governments signed onto the agreement after the central government agreed to their demands related to the site, including a provision that gives them the right to request a halt to the delivery of radiation-contaminated soil.

(This article was written by Yoshitaka Ito and Teru Okumura.)




February 25, 2015


Governor, mayors approve nuclear waste shipments



Feb. 25, 2015 - Updated 18:14 UTC+1

The governor of Fukushima Prefecture and the mayors of 2 towns say they will approve shipments of radioactive soil to intermediate storage facilities to be built in the prefecture.

Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of the towns of Futaba and Okuma met Environment Minister Yoshio Mochiduki and Reconstruction Minister Wataru Takeshita on Wednesday.

Governor Uchibori said he will allow the movement of radioactive soil and other waste to bring about the prefecture's recovery as soon as possible.

The two mayors also expressed their consent.

The central government plans to build the facilities in Futaba and Okuma to store soil and other waste from decontamination work following the 2011 nuclear accident. The towns also host the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The government plans to begin the construction this month and start shipments of the waste by March 11th -- the 4th anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered the accident.

The local governments have been demanding the conclusion of safety agreements and ensured security of shipments among other conditions.



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