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Protests in Tochigi

July 30, 2014

Town picked as candidate for radiation-tainted waste dump, drawing protest




The government notified a town in Tochigi Prefecture on Wednesday that it has been picked as a candidate site for the final disposal of some of the radiation-tainted waste resulting from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

More than 100 residents in the town, which is called Shioya, gathered in front of the municipal office to express their opposition to the government’s proposal.

Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata said the community “clearly” opposes the proposal, adding he had conveyed that message to Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue during a meeting in the town earlier on Wednesday.

But Mikata left open the possibility of accepting a detailed government survey of the candidate landfill site in the town, which is located about 150 km north of Tokyo, telling a news conference that “it does not mean we will refuse to hear the government’s explanation.”

The government has decided to have each affected prefecture dispose of waste tainted by radioactive cesium from the nuclear disaster within the prefecture’s own borders. The waste includes things like rice straw, sewage and ash from incinerators.

The government is supposed to build a landfill facility for final disposal in each of the five prefectures that lack the capacity to dispose of such waste at existing facilities, such as Tochigi, Miyagi and Chiba.

In 2012, the Tochigi city of Yaita, which borders Shioya, was selected as a candidate site for final waste disposal. But the government was later forced to reconsider the selection due to fierce local opposition.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the government intends to “steadily deal with the issue so the disposal of designated waste will proceed smoothly.”

Last year, the Environment Ministry finalized a new process of selecting a final disposal site in Tochigi after taking local leaders’ opinions into account. The government then selected state-owned land in Shioya, taking into account its distance from communities and water sources.

Designated waste contains more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. At the end of June, 146,000 tons of such waste was slated for disposal in 12 prefectures including Tokyo.

In January, the government proposed a candidate site in Miyagi Prefecture, the first such action under the government’s plan to build waste disposal facilities in the five prefectures. But a local leader has opposed the plan as inappropriate, leaving the matter up in the air.



July 30, 2014

Tochigi town favored as permanent radioactive waste storage site



Shioya Mayor Kasuhisa Mikata, right, expresses his disappointment to Deputy Environment Minister Shinji Inoue over the Ministry of the Environment's informal selection of his town as a place to construct a final disposal site for radioactive waste, at Shioya town hall on July 30, 2014. (Mainichi) 

Shioya Mayor Kasuhisa Mikata, right, expresses his disappointment to Deputy Environment Minister Shinji Inoue over the Ministry of the Environment's informal selection of his town as a place to construct a final disposal site for radioactive waste, at Shioya town hall on July 30, 2014. (Mainichi)

The Ministry of the Environment is preparing to use state-owned land in the Tochigi Prefecture town of Shioya to permanently store radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it has been learned.

The ministry has been searching for a location to construct a facility to store "designated waste" including radioactive materials from the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. On July 30, Deputy Environment Minister Shinji Inoue visited the Shioya town office and asked Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata to agree to a detailed inspection of the area.

Following the meeting, Mikata stated that he was "opposed to construction" of such a facility but indicated that he would engage in discussions with the ministry.

The ministry is eyeing three hectares of state-owned land in Shioya to construct the storage site, officials say. In a meeting with mayors in Tochigi Prefecture it was earlier agreed that prospective sites would be evaluated on four factors -- their distance from communities, their distance from water resources, the level of vegetation and nature in the area, and the amount of designated waste to be stored. Officials agreed to convert these figures into numerical data to make judgments.

During the meeting on July 30, which was also attended by Tochigi Gov. Tomikazu Fukuda, Inoue explained to Mikata that Shioya had achieved the highest ranking in the evaluation. Mikata responded that the ministry's move was "disappointing." He added that the source of one of Japan's designated 100 remarkable water areas lay nearby.

In a news conference after the meeting, Mikata told reporters, "I conveyed my clear opposition. But I think we should lend an ear with regard the implementation of a detailed survey. I would like to consider the issue after discussions with the Ministry of the Environment."

The designated waste includes straw and incinerated ash with a level of radioactivity of 8,000 becquerels or more per kilogram. In 2012, the ministry named the Tochigi Prefecture city of Yaita as a prospective location to build a permanent storage site, but it did not provide explanations to the town in advance, which resulted in local opposition, sending the ministry's plans back to the drawing board. Later, local officials agreed to settle on a single location in which a detailed survey would be conducted. The ministry had acted swiftly to make a selection. A total of roughly 14,000 tons of designated waste remains in Tochigi Prefecture.

July 30, 2014(Mainichi Japan)


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Town chosen as nuclear waste disposal site



Jul. 30, 2014 - Updated 06:53 UTC+2

Japan's Environment Ministry has chosen a town in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo, as a possible final disposal site for radioactive waste from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011.

The ministry needs to create the disposal facilities because storage is reaching capacity in 5 prefectures.
The facilities are for sewage sludge, incinerated ash, and other waste contaminated with more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive materials.

On Wednesday, Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue visited Shioya Town and told Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata and Tochigi Governor Tomikazu Fukuda of the decision. He said state-owned property in the town was chosen after considering safety.

Inoue asked for the town's cooperation in field surveys, adding that the central government will execute the plan while addressing local concerns.

Town Mayor Mikata expressed regret over the decision. He said he told the government that he strongly opposes the plan and wants to protect the local environment.

About 50 local residents gathered in front of the town office in protest.

In September 2012, the ministry chose a state-held forest in Yaita City as the prefecture's candidate site. But the plan faced criticism and the ministry was forced to back down and start the selection process over.


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