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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Store waste but where?

March 17, 2015

Nuclear waste a challenge in decommissioning



Mar. 17, 2015 - Updated 08:18 UTC+1

Decommissioning nuclear reactors takes decades, and generates tons of radioactive waste. But storage sites for such waste have yet to be secured in Japan.

2 Japanese utilities announced on Tuesday that they would scrap 3 reactors in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.

Aside from these and the reactors at the disabled Fukushima Daiichi plant, 3 other reactors in Shizuoka and Ibaraki prefectures are in the process of being decommissioned.

In Shizuoka, work started in 2009 on permanently shutting down 2 reactors that belong to Chubu Electric Power Company's Hamaoka plant. The entire process is expected to take 28 years.

Workers have already removed nuclear fuel. They are now decontaminating the facilities to minimize radiation exposure during the dismantling work.

They will begin dismantling peripheral facilities from as early as April before taking down the reactors. The outer building will be the last to be pulled down.

The Federation of Electric Power Companies estimates that if all 57 reactors in Japan are scrapped, it would generate about 450,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste. The country has no facility to dispose of such waste.

Chubu Electric on Monday applied to the government to store waste with very low radiation levels within the Hamaoka plant for the time being. Shizuoka Prefecture officials gave their nod to the plan, but warned that they won't tolerate keeping the waste there forever.

Scrapped reactor vessels and other types of waste with relatively high radiation levels are to be stored in facilities built 50 to 100 meters underground. But again, there is no prospect of securing sites for the storage.

Japan's government has also made no progress on finding disposal sites for high-level radioactive waste that's produced during the processing of spent nuclear fuel.

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