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Fukushima waste storage

December 14, 2013

Ministry unveils plan to buy 19 sq. km of land around Fukushima No. 1 for waste storage




The Environment Ministry officially announced Saturday that the government aims to buy 19 sq. km of land around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex to build facilities for the long-term storage of radioactive and other waste churned up in decontamination work.

The plan was unveiled as Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto visited Fukushima to ask local authorities to approve the storage sites’ construction in the four towns hosting Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s two nuclear plants in the prefecture.

Under the plan, the government will build storage and volume reduction facilities on land bought around the Fukushima No. 1 plant host towns of Futaba and Okuma, as well as a small facility in Naraha, while utilizing an existing disposal site in Tomioka. Those two towns co-host the Fukushima No. 2 power station.

Up to 28 million cu. meters of waste could be stored in the envisaged facilities, whose total cost is estimated at about ¥1 trillion, the officials said.

Providing local consent is secured, the government will take legislative action to ensure that the waste’s final disposal will take place outside the prefecture within 30 years from the start of storage, the ministry said.

With the dim prospects of building interim storage facilities delaying decontamination of areas affected by the March 2011 nuclear disaster, the government hopes to start using the planned facilities in January 2015.

Desperate to begin construction in April, the government will seek ¥100 billion in the fiscal 2014 budget for related expenses, including the cost of acquiring the land, ministry officials said.



Fukushima towns asked to host waste storage



The Japanese government has officially asked communities near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to host intermediate storage facilities for radioactive waste from the 2011 accident.

Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto visited Fukushima Prefecture on Saturday.

The ministers asked Governor Yuhei Sato of Fukushima Prefecture and mayors of 3 towns -- Futaba, Okuma and Naraha -- to accept the construction plan.

The intermediate storage facilities would be designed to hold radioactive soil and debris collected from decontamination work for up to 30 years. The government views such storage facilities as indispensable for accelerating the decontamination work.

The ministers told the officials that the government would legislate its pledge to remove the radioactive waste to outside the prefecture for permanent disposal if the local communities agree to host the facilities.

The government plans to acquire 19 square kilometers in the 3 towns and nationalize the land with a view to start bringing waste to the facilities by January 2015.

Before that, the government needs to obtain the consent of local landowners.

But residents who have evacuated from the towns oppose the plan as they do not want to give up land that has been handed down from their ancestors for the facilities. The residents are also concerned about the safety of such facilities which they say could discourage evacuees from returning to their hometowns.

The central government plans to hold briefings for residents next year to convince them of the need to build the facilities.

Dec. 14, 2013 - Updated 13:08 UTC

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