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Nuclear waste: from Bure in the Meuse, France to Japan, opponents of the burial unite

In Bure, in the Meuse, the Cigéo project for the burial of long-lived nuclear waste has been recognized as being of public utility. Opponents are calling on the Japanese to mobilize against a similar project on the island of Hokkaido.

Opponents of the Bure nuclear waste burial project have lent their support to the inhabitants of Suttsu, Japan, where a similar project is under study.

Ouest-France Alan LE BLOA. Published on 03/11/2022

On the borders of the Meuse and Haute-Marne regions, the Cigéo project for a nuclear waste burial center in Bure has been declared to be in the public interest. The decree, published on Friday, July 8, authorizes the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (Andra) to acquire the land needed for the surface installations, as well as the land located above the galleries. This means about 3,500 hectares, which can be expropriated if necessary.

85,000 m3 of radioactive waste

The aim of the project is to bury 85,000 cubic meters of long-lived high-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste from France’s nuclear power plants 500 meters underground by at least 2080. This decisive step, since the launch of research on site twenty years ago, has rekindled tensions. Some thirty associations and residents have filed an appeal with the Council of State to challenge the decision. A message relayed to Japan

On September 16, EELV and LFI parliamentarians gave their political support to the opponents’ action… which is becoming international. In a message relayed to Japan, they have, in fact, sent their support to the inhabitants of the village of Suttsu, opposed to the project of burying radioactive waste in the subsoil of the island of Hokkaido, in the north of the archipelago. The burial projects “are devastating for our territories and represent economic brakes for their future. No one wants to live next to a radioactive repository. The promises of development are lies intended to make the projects acceptable”, they write, condemning “the lack of transparency of the authorities”.

In the meantime, in Bure, an observatory for the health of local residents is being set up. Its objective? To monitor the physical and psychological health of residents within a 25 km (6,000 people in 180 municipalities) and 50 km (340,000 people in 679 municipalities) perimeter. Some 900 people, selected at random, are to be interviewed to assess their health.


November 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste: in Japan, a sensitive project in an earthquake-prone region

On the island of Hokkaido, a contested project plans to bury 19,000 tons of radioactive waste 300 m underground. In a region subject to the risk of earthquakes.

Yugo Ono, geologist and professor emeritus at the University of Hokkaido, considers that it is risky to bury radioactive waste in an area subject to seismic movements.

Ouest-France Johann FLEURI. Published on 03/11/2022 at 06h30

On the island of Hokkaido, Numo is carrying out stage 1 of the investigation, which began in 2020. The radioactive waste management company is studying the location, soils, seismic history of the area and calculating budgets. Residents and the city council will be asked to vote on whether to proceed with the project and move to Phase 2. The vote, scheduled for November, has been postponed.

Stored for over a thousand years

The 19,000 tons of nuclear waste that could eventually be buried on site, between 300 m and 3 km below the surface of the ground, are extracts of liquid waste, which after several treatments, remain highly radioactive and must be stored for more than a thousand years, to no longer present a danger to humans. The burial project, the first of its kind in the archipelago, consists of placing them in stainless steel tubes, so that they can be stored as vitrified waste. Numo plans to store 40,000 of these containers underground.

Soil and water table

An underground project that seems risky in a country subject to earthquakes. At Numo, we believe that “the degree of danger is under control”. In the event of a major earthquake, “the containers will follow the movement of the earth”. But Yugo Ono, a geologist and professor emeritus at Hokkaido University, does not share this opinion. “Buried, the waste could pollute the soil and groundwater in the event of a strong earthquake,” he says.


“The geology of the region, composed of volcanic rocks, is unsuitable for such a project, says the scientist. The soil is very affected by seismic activity. In the case of a major earthquake in Suttsu, “the radioactivity will spread into the water table,” he says. The waste would be stored at a depth of 300 meters, while “seismic activity can be felt up to 10 kilometers down.” Under pressure, the expert is certain: “The tanks will break.”

Another method

Rather than burial, “the only method of storing radioactive waste for Japan today is in steel containers, covered with 2 meters of concrete, within the walls of nuclear power plants. According to Yugo Uno, “this is the safest method, which we master best and it is not so expensive”. But this system requires that the containers be changed every fifty years at the most because the steel will be attacked by radioactivity. “Every twenty years would be better for maximum safety.”

November 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

REPORT. In Suttsu, Japan, the inhabitants do not want nuclear waste

At a time when Japan is announcing the restart of seventeen nuclear reactors by 2023, the question of radioactive waste management arises. In Suttsu, a landfill project is under study, to the great despair of the inhabitants.

Miki Nobuka, 50 years old, says she learned that the project of nuclear waste burial was validated while she was buying her bread.

Ouest-France Johann FLEURI. Published on 03/11/2022

“We don’t want our village to become a garbage dump,” say Kazuyuki Tsuchiya and his wife Kyoko. This couple of septuagenarians runs an inn in Suttsu, located on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan. This village of 2,800 souls, 78% of which is made up of forests, is picturesque and is located between mountains and the sea.

It is here that a nuclear waste storage project has been taking shape since 2020. Suttsu and the neighboring village of Kamoenai (800 inhabitants) were the only ones to apply to the Radioactive Waste Management Corporation (Numo), created by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the electricity companies, and were selected to receive, within 20 years, the 19,000 tons of radioactive waste piling up in the country’s power plants, particularly in Fukushima Dai-chi and Rokassho in Aomori, where storage capacity is saturated.

In Japan, between the villages of Suttsu and Kamoenai, which have applied for the radioactive waste burial project, is the Tomari nuclear power plant. In Japan, between the villages of Suttsu and Kamoenai, which have applied for the radioactive waste disposal project, is the Tomari nuclear power plant.

Although Suttsu officially submitted its application, the inhabitants feel that they were not consulted and accuse the municipal council of having made the decision alone. Miki Nobuka, 50 years old, says she learned that the project was approved while she was buying her bread. This mother has been campaigning ever since to “stop it for our children”.

More than 50% of the inhabitants against

According to Kazuyuki Tsuchiya’s calculations, “more than 50% of the inhabitants of Suttsu are against”. Not having had access to the details of the project, “the council makes heavy decisions in plenary sessions”. The residents feel betrayed and angry. “The mayor wants to take advantage of the subsidies to develop the city, but we don’t want it,” he says.

According to Kazuyuki Tsuchiya’s calculations, “more than 50 percent of the residents of Suttsu are against” the radioactive waste disposal project.

In the first phase of the project, which consists mainly of soil investigation, 15 million euros are paid to each of the two municipalities. Fifty-three million in the second phase, which is to be voted on by referendum. The city council can say stop at any time,” says a Numo spokesperson. A vote will validate the continuation of each phase.”

Lack of transparency

But “we want to have access to all the documents: it’s unacceptable,” says Kazuyuki Tsuchiya, who won his case in the Hakodate administrative court last March for lack of transparency on the part of local authorities. The court ruled that the city of Suttsu should publicly share all the minutes of the city council meeting during which the vote for the final storage project was held. The vote for the second phase, originally scheduled for November, has therefore been postponed to a later date.

When contacted, the mayor of Suttsu refused to answer our questions. The Kishida government has announced the restart of 17 of its reactors by 2023 and the probable construction of new ones in the future. The Prime Minister also declared that before each restart, the local population, who live near the said plants, would be consulted. A promise that makes the inhabitants of Suttsu smile bitterly.

November 7, 2022 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment