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Japan’s municipalities in growing rejection to hosting nuclear waste dumps

Assemblies make moves to reject playing host to nuclear waste http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808280029.html By CHIAKI OGIHARA/ Staff WriterAugust 28, 2018 More local assemblies are taking measures to send a strong message to the central government not to bother asking them to host storage facilities for nuclear waste.The moves, in the form of ordinances, were accelerated after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in July 2017 released its Nationwide Map of Scientific Features for Geological Disposal that classified areas around Japan into four colors denoting their suitability as storage sites for nuclear waste.

Electric power companies are looking for land plots to construct an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The central government is planning a final storage facility where high-level radioactive waste would be mixed with glass and vitrified before being buried more than 300 meters underground.

Twenty-two municipal assemblies now have ordinances that limit the entry of highly radioactive waste into their communities.

About half of the ordinances were adopted by 2005, followed by an extended period when concerns decreased about being chosen as a site for nuclear waste storage facilities.

But the release of the geological disposal map prompted five municipal assemblies to quickly adopt ordinances limiting the introduction of nuclear waste to their communities.

Dark green areas on the map show places deemed appropriate for hosting the final storage facility. They are all within 20 kilometers from the coast, have favorable geological features and are considered adequate for the transportation of waste.

About 900 municipalities fall into the dark green areas.

Light green areas on the map have favorable geological features but face problems in transporting the waste.

Orange areas are considered inappropriate from a geological standpoint, while silver areas are also deemed inappropriate because they have reserves of natural resources that could be mined in the future.

Between autumn 2017 and spring 2018, the village of Yamato and the towns of Higashi-Kushira and Kimotsuki–all in dark green areas in Kagoshima Prefecture–adopted ordinances to reject the acceptance of nuclear waste.

Two towns in Hokkaido passed similar ordinances. Biei, located in a light green area, took the action in April, while Urakawa, which lies mostly in a dark green area, adopted the ordinance in June.

Kagoshima Prefecture has the most municipalities–11–with such ordinances. In 2000 and 2001, six municipalities adopted the ordinances amid rising concerns that an interim spent fuel storage facility would be brought in. Between 2005 and 2015, four other municipalities followed suit.

The town of Yaku was among the first group, but its ordinance became invalid after it merged with Kami-Yaku to form the new town of Yakushima.

The Yakushima town assembly is now planning to submit an ordinance in its September session to reiterate its opposition to serving as a site for nuclear waste storage.

However, the law for nuclear waste storage would take legal precedence over any municipal ordinance, meaning that the local governments could still be asked to accept the nuclear waste.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) is in charge of the final nuclear waste storage project, and it has held explanatory meetings around Japan about the geological disposal map.

At those meetings, NUMO officials have stressed that it would not force a locality to accept nuclear waste if the prefectural governor or municipal mayor was opposed.

Still, Kohei Katsuyama, chairman of the Yamato village assembly in Kagoshima Prefecture, said the ordinance serves as a strong sign of the municipality’s stance of rejecting any idea of serving as host of a nuclear waste storage facility.

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August 29, 2018 - Posted by | Japan, politics, wastes

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