14 Août 2012
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will seek to incorporate research funds for burying spent nuclear fuel without processing it into the fiscal 2013 budget draft, ministry sources said.
METI has decided to prepare radioactive waste for burying as the possibility of such direct disposal is growing as part of a major change in Japan's energy policy. If realized, it will be the first time for the ministry to allocate funds relating to the direct dumping of radioactive waste from the state budget.
The government has promoted a nuclear fuel cycle project in which spent nuclear fuel will be reprocessed, plutonium and other materials will be extracted and the remaining fuel will be then used to power nuclear reactors.
However, the government has been forced to review the project as Japan's policy of promoting nuclear power has come under fire following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
As part of a review of Japan's energy policy, the government has offered three scenarios on the ratio of atomic power to Japan's total electric power generation as of 2030 -- zero percent, 15 percent and 20-25 percent. Under the zero percent scenario, all the existing spent nuclear fuel would be dumped because reprocessed fuel cannot be used. Under the 15 percent and 20-25 percent scenarios, the government would consider both reprocessing and burying of such radioactive waste.
Therefore, under all of these scenarios, the government would be required to consider burying spent nuclear fuel without reprocessing such waste.
In July, the Cabinet Office's Japan Atomic Energy Commission urged ministries and agencies concerned to incorporate funds in the fiscal 2013 state budget draft to develop technology for dumping radioactive waste.
In response, METI has deemed it necessary to study the examples of dumping radioactive waste in Sweden, Finland and other countries as soon as the government adopts its new energy policy.