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LDP committee : construction of new reactors should be halted

 August 16, 2013


LDP panel to recommend freezing construction of new nuclear plants



A Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) subcommittee probing the Fukushima nuclear disaster is set to recommend that Japan freeze construction of any new nuclear power plants until it decides how to deal with its spent nuclear fuel.

The subcommittee, part of the LDP's strategic research council on resources and energy, included the suggestion in a proposal it plans to submit to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month. The proposal, which also calls to shut down nuclear power plants whose operation is not financially viable, is likely to cause a stir within the Abe administration.

A subcommittee member pointed out that Japan had no final disposal site for the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel that nuclear plants generate.

"It is not possible for the government to fulfill its responsibility to provide an explanation to the public if it builds new nuclear plants when there is still no final disposal site for spent nuclear fuel -- which is like having an 'apartment with no toilet,' " the member said.

The subcommittee was formed after the outbreak of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). Its proposal expresses reservations about the way TEPCO has struggled to handle the disaster, with contaminated water escaping into the sea. It makes a wide range of proposals, from those governing the handling of contaminated water to the nation's future nuclear power policy.

At its outset, the proposal points out that high radiation levels at the Fukushima plant have hindered inspections of the reactors and associated buildings, and asks the government to further probe the cause of the nuclear disaster.

The tsunami following the March 2011 Great East Japan earthquake has been cited as the direct cause of the nuclear disaster, but the subcommittee's proposal says that the effects of the temblor on the nuclear disaster should be further investigated, with specialists on commercial reactors becoming involved in the nuclear regulation agency.

Regarding nuclear policy, the proposal says the construction of new reactors should be frozen, and that operations of reactors that are too expensive to manage due to the high costs of tsunami countermeasures should be halted.


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