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Where to in 2045? Contaminated Soil from the Nuclear Power Plant Accident: The Present Location of Interim Storage Facilities, Fukushima.

July 3, 2022
Contaminated removed soil and other materials generated by decontamination following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are temporarily stored at an interim storage facility adjacent to the plant. Decontamination outside of the difficult-to-return zones has been largely completed, and decontamination is also progressing in the specified restoration and rehabilitation base areas (restoration bases) within the difficult-to-return zones where evacuation orders are expected to be lifted this spring or later. However, there is no concrete plan for the decontamination of areas outside of the restoration centers that are difficult to return to, and there has been no progress in discussions regarding the removal of contaminated soil outside of Fukushima Prefecture. Eleven years after the accident, the problem of radioactive waste remains unresolved. (The problem of radioactive waste remains unresolved even 11 years after the accident.)

◆Total amount of contaminated waste is not foreseeable
 According to the Ministry of the Environment, the amount of contaminated soil generated by decontamination in areas other than the difficult-to-return zones is estimated to be 14 million cubic meters, an enormous amount equivalent to 11 times the size of the Tokyo Dome. The soil is scheduled to be delivered to an interim storage facility by March 2010. In the remaining difficult-to-return zones in the seven municipalities of Fukushima Prefecture, six municipalities (excluding Minamisoma City) have been designated as “specific restoration base areas (restoration bases)” where decontamination work will be carried out ahead of other areas. It is estimated that 1.6 to 2 million cubic meters of contaminated soil will be generated in the decontamination of the reconstruction bases.
 In addition, the government decided in August 2009 to lift the evacuation order for difficult-to-return zones outside of the restoration centers by decontaminating homes and other structures on request of those who wish to return. The Ministry of the Environment said, “We will proceed with the acquisition of land and the construction of storage facilities while keeping a close eye on the amount of soil that can be brought in. We do not know the maximum amount that can be brought in.

◆Unclear whether the waste will be transported out of Fukushima Prefecture
 As the name implies, storage at interim storage facilities is considered “temporary” for final disposal. The government has promised to remove the contaminated soil to a final disposal site outside of Fukushima Prefecture in 2045, 30 years after the storage began in 2015. However, it is not known whether there are municipalities that will accept the waste contaminated by the nuclear accident, and the candidate site has not yet been decided.
 In addition, three-quarters of the total amount of contaminated soil in storage currently contains less than 8,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of soil, which is the same level as that of the soil that is normally incinerated or landfilled. The government plans to reuse contaminated soil with less than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram in public works projects such as road construction. However, the use of contaminated soil is strongly opposed by local residents, and efforts to put this into practical use have run into difficulties. The Ministry of the Environment states that it will “continue its efforts to develop technologies and gain the understanding of related parties.

Interim storage facilities are located around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and cover an area of 1,600 hectares. Of the privately owned land, which accounts for about 80% of the total area, 93% has been acquired by the government. The delivery of contaminated soil generated outside of the difficult-to-return zone is expected to be completed by the end of FY2022.


July 10, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

State funds to be juggled to cover cleanup costs from Fukushima

okuma storage facilityInterim storage facilities for radioactive waste from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster are shown in the foreground in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. Seen in the background is the nuclear complex.


March 18, 2020

The government has moved to revise a law to allow for the diversion of budgetary funds set aside for the promotion of renewable energy to help cover ballooning costs related to the storage of radioactive waste produced during cleanup work after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tax revenues appropriated for renewable-related projects are not permitted to be used for nuclear power programs under the special account law, which governs budgets allocated for specific purposes.

Earlier this month, however, the government submitted a bill to the Diet to revise the law to make the diversion of funds legal. It plans to enact the legislation during the current Diet session and put the revised law into force in April 2021.

This would be the first time for a revenue source earmarked for a specific expenditure to be diverted to a different purpose.

But the revision bill is likely to draw criticism from the public as it concerns the divisive issue of nuclear power and raises further questions about the government’ longstanding insistence that nuclear power is an inexpensive energy source.

Energy-related expenditures are booked under the government’s special account, separately from the general account.

These expenditures are grouped into more categories, such as one for nuclear energy and another for renewable energy sources.

About 300 billion yen ($2.78 billion) a year is allocated for programs associated with nuclear energy, including grants to local governments hosting nuclear power plants, while 800 billion yen or so is set aside to promote renewable energy, energy saving efforts and ensuring a stable energy supply.

Revenues for nuclear energy-related programs are collected under the promotion of power resources development tax, which are levied on electricity rates. Those for renewables are collected from businesses importing petroleum and coal under the petroleum and coal tax.

They are project-specific tax revenues, meaning they cannot be used for other purposes. The amount of those budgets remains at similar levels each year. 

The government’s move was prompted by runaway costs to process a vast volume of contaminated waste due to the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and maintain them in interim storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture.

The government decided to shoulder some of the costs to help Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the stricken plant, and gained Cabinet approval to do so in December 2013.

Since fiscal 2014, it has set aside about 35 billion yen annually for the interim storage facilities. The funds come from revenues earmarked for nuclear energy-related projects in the special account.

But expenditures concerning the storage facilities are running a lot higher than initially envisaged.

An estimate released in late 2016 by the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry showed that the project will eventually cost 1.6 trillion yen, compared with an initial projection of 1.1 trillion yen.

The government has allocated an additional 12 billion yen annually for the storage facility project since fiscal 2017.

Government officials say the price tag could further increase in coming years, likely leaving the government with scant financial resources to cover the project.

The revision bill has a clause stipulating that funds diverted to nuclear energy-related programs must eventually be returned to renewable energy project-specific tax revenues.

But it remains unclear if the clause will ease objections from opponents of nuclear energy, even if the fund diversion is a temporary measure.

Yoshikazu Miki, former president of Aoyama Gakuin University and a specialist of the tax system in Japan, called on the government to justify its proposed fund diversion by providing a full explanation of the issue.

A special account budget has rarely been scrutinized during Diet debate, unlike the general account,” Miki said. “The revision bill requires special attention as it is related to a nuclear power plant. Some members of the public may raise objections to the revision. The government needs to explain the matter to taxpayers to defend its need to act in this way.”

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment