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In desperate search of disposal sites for its nuclear waste, Japan offers poisonous grants to two small villages

Masao Takimoto chez lui à Kamoenai, sur l’île d’Hokkaido au Japon, devant des affiches où l’on peut lire « Non aux déchets nucléaires ».

November 9, 2020

One morning in September, 87-year-old retiree Masao Takimoto was reading the newspaper in his house in Kamoenai when a news story captured his attention, ruined his day and changed the course of this quiet fishing village on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan : the mayor of the village of 822 had agreed to a preliminary study to host a disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste, for which the Japanese government would award 2 billion yen (€16 million, US$19 million) in subsidies.

Mr Takimoto didn’t waste a single minute. He wrote a letter of protest and delivered it by hand to the mayor’s house. Over the following days, he produced and distributed leaflets alerting others to the dangers of the nuclear disposal site and tried to gain access to the meetings that were being hastily held. His journey to activism resulted in tensions and anonymous threats. Ultimately he was unable to stop the mayor from signing on 9 October an application with the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NUMO), a quasi-governmental body charged with managing Japan’s radioactive waste.

Meanwhile, just 40 km away, another fishing village of 2,900 inhabitants quickly mobilised to prevent their mayor from volunteering for the same study. Suttsu, 40 per cent of whose inhabitants are over 65 years old, announced in August its interest in applying for the large subsidy to combat depopulation. Haruo Kataoka, 71, the town’s mayor since 2001, has been accused of ignoring civil society groups, national anti-nuclear organisations, fishers’ associations, leaders of neighbouring municipalities, the think tank CEMIPOS and even the governor of Hokkaido. The region, a major source of fishing and agricultural resources, has an ordinance opposing nuclear waste in its territory.

“We want to vote on the proposal. We’re worried about our fishing industry. If nuclear waste is stored here and there are problems in the future, we won’t be able to protect the environment or our jobs,” says Toshihiko Yoshino, a fishing entrepreneur in Suttsu. Yoshino processes and sells the local specialty, oysters, young sardines and anchovies. On 10 September, with a group of residents both young and old, he founded the organisation ‘No to Nuclear Waste for the Children of Suttsu.’ They collected signatures to request a referendum. On the eight day they launched a campaign to implement it, in collaboration with civil groups in the region. Their efforts were in vain : the mayor signed the application in Tokyo the following day. The previous morning, a Molotov cocktail exploded at the mayor’s house, an incident that left no one injured.

Someone broke the bicycle that Junko Kosaka, 71, was using to hand out leaflets against the nuclear disposal site. She has been a member of the opposition in the Suttsu council for nine years and laments the tension and discord between neighbours. “The village has no financial problems. There are fishing companies and profitable sales of fish. We receive a large budget from Japanese citizens who support rural areas through the Hometown Tax scheme.” She was surprised by the age of NUMO’s managers, all of whom are elderly, and believes that young people should decide their own future. “I would like the managers to reflect, to rethink nuclear energy. We are a country of disasters.”

Emptying villages and poor employment prospects

Japan is the world’s fourth largest producer of nuclear power after the United States, France and China. Distributed across the archipelago, 54 reactors generated 30 per cent of electricity until 2011. Despite having shut down the majority of reactors following the fatal accident of Fukushima, Japan’s commitment to nuclear energy remains firm, though not without controversy. Nine reactors are still in operation and 18 are waiting to be reactivated to generate 20 per cent of the country’s electricity in 2030.

Since 2002, the government has been looking for a location for a permanent geological repository, concrete structures at least 300 metres below ground that will store radioactive waste for millennia so as not to affect life and the environment. Desperate to solve a global and irreversible problem of the nuclear age, Japan is offering subsidies to encourage localities to host the repository. Small villages with declining populations and uncertain futures are attracted by the promise of money and jobs. The first phase will consist of two years of feasibility research. For the following phase, a four-year preliminary geological investigation, villages will receive an additional 7 billion. The final phase will consist of digging and the construction of the underground facility, a process that will last 14 years. But where is the waste ? “It cools off in overflowing pools while time runs out,” say many frustrated opponents of nuclear energy in Japan.

For decades Japan has been shipping tons of spent fuel to France and England for reprocessing, but the resulting radioactive waste must be returned to the country of origin for disposal by the IAEA. Japan only has a temporary repository (between 30 and 50 years – and half of that time is already up) in the village of Rokkasho, but 40,000 highly polluting cylinders are waiting for a permanent storage (the construction of which could take at least 20 years). The central government must also find storage for low-intensity waste occupying the equivalent of eight Olympic-size swimming pools. Every time a power plant operator uses gloves, a suit or tools, the earth fills with rubbish that contaminates for generations. France, Belgium, Sweden and Spain already have disposal sites for several centuries and Finland has just opened a permanent site in one of the oldest rock formations in Europe.

In 2007, the city of Toyo asked to enter the preliminary study but soon backed out after facing strong local opposition. In 2017, the central government released a map of potentially suitable sites. It ruled out sites near active volcanoes and fault lines, as well as areas with recent seismic activity. A wide area of Suttsu and a small portion of Kamoenai are seen to be favourable. Both locations are very close to the Tomari nuclear power plant, which is currently inactive.

The residents of Suttsu turned to experts for help. On 2 October, Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre came to the town with a renowned geologist to provide information to residents. According to the nuclear expert : “There is no space for the nuclear repository in Suttsu. We have to reclaim land from the sea and there hasn’t been enough research. Our country is not a geologically stable territory.” He says that 200 people attended the seminar, including the mayor “who must have already made the decision.” Is it safe ? “It is not safe, there could be leaks. Currently there is no appropriate technology in the world for handling radioactive waste. The only way to reduce it is to shut down the plants.” So what should be done with the waste ? “More research should be done and it should be buried using deep borehole disposal at more than 3,000 metres below the earth’s surface.”

A debated that is not promoted

Nobody in Kamoenai wants to talk to the press. By mid-morning, the boats have returned and the women are cleaning the salmon for sale. There are empty houses and closed businesses which have seen better days. In the main street, an imposing building is under construction : the new town hall, just opposite the old one. “I’m an employee of the town hall and I’m not authorised to respond,” says one young woman. “I’m not an expert, I can’t give an opinion,” says a young man. “I don’t want to talk, I could lose my job,” says a worried woman. “We have the power plant nearby and nothing bad has ever happened,” says another evasively. Takimoto is the only person willing to speak out without fear : “It’s an obscure and cowardly process, nothing is transparent. The political administration is stifling the voices of the people. It’s strange that the most important thing, safety, isn’t being mentioned. We have to think about future dangers.”

“The government claims that it will be safe for years to come, that’s their argument. But should we believe it ? The experts say the opposite. Just this year, on the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was reading testimonies that made me cry. I have seen the effects of radiation on patients. I don’t want the children of Fukushima or of my village to suffer from it. We have to imagine a village without a nuclear power station or nuclear waste and that’s what I’m going to dedicate myself to,” he adds.

“I’ve been booed at local meetings, but there are people who support me in secret. Many of them pretend to be in favour but deep down they’re not. They don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs, like the relatives of plant employees.” Takimoto refuses to give up. He has offered his experience in the health sector as a resource to help revitalise the town through projects such as medical tourism, but he has been unable to prevent the application from going through.

The Japanese government has welcomed the two locations (Kamoenai and Suttsu) and NUMO’s president expressed gratitude “for the courageous step”. The Minister of Industry said that they “will do their best to win the support of the people.” But the governor of Hokkaido has firmly stated that he will oppose the second phase. Those who oppose the disposal site fear that receiving the subsidies will make it difficult to back out due to government pressure. According to local journalists Chie Yamashita and Yui Takahashi of the Mainichi Shinbun : “Without going into whether or not applying is the right thing to do, there needs to be a debate about the management of radioactive waste and the process of selecting a location.” Everyone consulted for this article is calling for a national debate, which the government has not yet set in motion.

Some residents, like Takimoto, continue to protest : “No to nuclear waste. Life is more important than money.” On the poster, a baby dreams of a world and an ocean without pollution.

https://www.equaltimes.org/in-desperate-search-of-disposal#.X6mvJVBCeUl

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Aomori wants reassurance that it won’t be final nuclear waste site

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Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura (left) and Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato (right) attend a meeting of a council for nuclear fuel cycle policy held at the Prime Minister’s Office Wednesday.

Oct 21, 2020

Aomori Prefecture on Wednesday urged the government to reconfirm its policy of not building in the prefecture a facility for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants across the nation.

The request was made during a meeting of a council for discussions on issues related to the country’s nuclear fuel cycle policy between relevant Cabinet ministers and officials of the prefecture, where a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility is under construction. It was the first meeting of the council since November 2010.

At the day’s meeting, the Aomori side called on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet, launched last month, to maintain the promise not to make the prefecture a final disposal site, upheld by past administrations.

Participants in the meeting, held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, included Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato and industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama from the central government, and Aomori Gov. Shingo Mimura.

“It’s necessary for the state and the operator (of the reprocessing plant) to make the utmost efforts to promote, with support from Aomori, the nuclear fuel cycle policy, including the launch of the plant,” Kato said at the start of the meeting.

Mimura told reporters after the meeting that he asked the central government to abide by the promise and promote the nuclear fuel cycle policy, in which uranium and plutonium are extracted from spent fuel and reprocessed into fuel for use at nuclear power plants.

Mimura indicated that Kato showed the state’s understanding of his requests.

In July, the central government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority concluded that the basic design of the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the Aomori village of Rokkasho meets the country’s nuclear safety standards, which were crafted after the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. aims to complete the plant in fiscal 2022. The NRA spent over six years screening the Rokkasho facility’s design.

Following the NRA’s conclusion, the Aomori side asked the state to hold a meeting of the nuclear fuel cycle policy council.

Aomori has agreed to accept spent nuclear fuel from nuclear plants across the country on the condition that a final disposal facility is not constructed in the prefecture.

The central government regards the nuclear fuel cycle as a pillar of its nuclear energy strategy.

Besides the reprocessing plant, a facility to make mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel from extracted uranium and plutonium is also under construction at the same site in Rokkasho.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/10/21/national/japan-aomori-nuclear-waste-disposal/

October 26, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Mansion without a toilet: Towns in Japan seek to house, store nuclear waste out of necessity

Oct 12, 2020

Two remote towns in northern Japan struggling with rapidly graying and shrinking populations signed up Friday to possibly host a high-level radioactive waste storage site as a means of economic survival.

Japanese utilities have about 16,000 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel rods stored in cooling pools or other interim sites, and there is no final repository for them in Japan — a situation called “a mansion without a toilet.”

Japan is in a dire situation following the virtual failure of an ambitious nuclear fuel recycling plan, in which plutonium extracted from spent fuel was to be used in still-unbuilt fast breeder reactors. The problem of accumulating nuclear waste came to the fore after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. Finding a community willing to host a radioactive dump site is difficult, even with a raft of financial enticements.

On Friday, Haruo Kataoka, the mayor of Suttsu town on the northwestern coast of Hokkaido, applied in Tokyo for preliminary government research on whether its land would be suitable for highly radioactive waste storage for thousands of years.

Later Friday in Kamoenai just north of Kamoenai, village chief Masayuki Takahashi announced his decision to also apply for an initial feasibility study.

Suttsu, with a population of 2,900, and Kamoenai, with about 800 people, have received annual government subsidies as hosts of the Tomari nuclear power plant. But they are struggling financially because of a declining fishing industry and their aging and shrinking populations.

The preliminary research is the first of three steps in selecting a permanent disposal site, with the whole process estimated to take about two decades. Municipalities can receive up to 2 billion yen ($19 million) in government subsidies for two years by participating in the first stage. Moving on to the next stage would bring in more subsidies.

“I have tried to tackle the problems of declining population, low birth rates and social welfare, but hardly made progress,” Takahashi told reporters. “I hope that accepting research (into the waste storage) can help the village’s development.”

It is unknown whether either place will qualify as a disposal site. Opposition from people across Hokkaido could also hinder the process. A gasoline bomb was thrown into the Suttsu mayor’s home early Thursday, possibly by an opponent of the plan, causing slight damage.

Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki and local fisheries groups are opposed to hosting such a facility.

One mayor in southwestern Japan expressed interest in 2007, but faced massive opposition and the plan was spiked.

High-level radioactive waste must be stored in thick concrete structures at least 300 meters (yards) underground so it won’t affect humans and the environment.

A 2017 land survey map released by the government indicated parts of Suttsu and Kamoenai could be suitable for a final repository.

So far, Finland and Sweden are the only countries that have selected final disposal sites

https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/mansion-without-a-toilet-towns-in-japan-seek-to-house-store-nuclear-waste-out-of-necessity-8904851.html

October 18, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Struggles to Secure Radioactive Nuclear Waste Dump Sites

A small, aging town grapples with the financial lure of storing radioactive waste underground. 

Japan’s worsening depopulation crisis is crippling the public finances of regional towns. Now one small town has made national headlines after expressing interest in storing radioactive nuclear waste underground in a last ditch effort to save itself from impending bankruptcy.

The small town of Suttsu in Hokkaido, the northernmost main island of Japan, has a population of just under 3,000 people. It’s the first local municipality to volunteer for the permanent storage site of highly radioactive nuclear waste and nuclear spent fuel. Suttsu Mayor Kataoka Haruo says the town has no more than 10 years left to find new sources of income after struggling with a slump in sales of seafood due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Kataoka says there is an impending sense of crisis unless an urgent financial boost in the form of a government grant can be secured. He has called on local residents not to dismiss the idea of applying for the phase one “literature survey” without weighing the ways the grant could be spent — in contrast to the harsh reality of town funds running dry in 10 years’ time.

In Japan there are more than 2,500 containers of nuclear waste being stored in limbo without a permanent disposal site. Currently, the waste is stored temporarily in Aomori prefecture in northwest Japan at the Japan Nuclear Waste Storage Management Center. According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry there are also approximately 19,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at each nuclear power plant.

Nuclear waste projects immense heat and it needs to be cooled through exposure to air for between 30 to 50 years before it can be transferred and stored underground. However, it takes roughly 1,000 years to 100,000 years for radiation intensity to drop to safe levels.

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster left long-lasting trauma further exasperating Japan’s already vexed relationship with nuclear energy as a resource deficient nation. The aftermath of the disaster and the slow road to recovery prompted many people to object to nuclear waste storage not only on geographic grounds but also out of strong emotional opposition.

Hokkaido has built a global reputation for its high quality dairy, agricultural products, and seafood. Nuclear waste storage, and the negative publicity that would follow, could jeopardize those industries.

With the proposal, local residents in Sutsu have been placed in a difficult situation, weighing up the health of their children and future generations against the town’s financial prospects and viable funding opportunities.

In August, Kataoka said he would not apply for phase one without the understanding of the general public. Last week, Kataoka held a local briefing session aiming to deepen local understanding and consent. But after discussing the damage to the town’s reputation and the possible conflict with a previous ordinance against accepting nuclear waste set by a radioactive waste research facility created in Hokkaido in 2000, Kataoka indicated the application for phase one would likely be delayed.

In 2000 the government enacted the Final Disposal Law, which outlined criteria for electing a permanent storage site. A three-stage investigation process sets out excavation to be deeper than 300 meters below ground and in doing so a survey of volcanoes, active fault lines, and underground rock must be performed in addition to installing an underground survey facility. It’s estimated that steps one through to three will take approximately 20 years in total.

In 2017 the government released a scientific map of Japan, pinpointing towns with suitable geographic conditions to host final disposal sites. If the application and survey are approved successfully, towns are eligible for grants up to 2 billion yen (around $19 million at current exchange rates) from the central government and another 7 billion yen if stage two goes ahead. In 2002 The Nuclear Waste Management of Japan (NUMO) launched an open call for local municipalities to consider applying for an initial investigation stage without success. Three years after the release of the map, NUMO has attempted to garner public support by hosting over 100 local discussion meetings all over Japan. Suttsu was the first town to express interest in phase one out of 900 local municipalities.

The final nuclear waste site is expected to make room underground for 40,000 barrels requiring six to 10 square kilometers — the equivalent of 214 Tokyo Dome Stadiums — to a tune of 3.9 trillion yen.

The government is currently formulating a “nuclear fuel cycle policy,” which aims to reduce the amount of nuclear waste generated by encouraging the recycling and reuse of spent fuel. But one major criticism of Japan’s nuclear power policy is the lack of a comprehensive strategy. The two year period for a “literature survey” has been touted as an opportunity for Japan to seriously consider the cleanup of nuclear power.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/09/japan-struggles-to-secure-radioactive-nuclear-waste-dump-sites/?fbclid=IwAR3UC-dCpZzWDF4eS8WvHn04z1ZxM3SwijKeTO5fdwJ3BOIenmceT_weFxo

October 1, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste disposal is a matter of environmental concern

Aug 31, 2020

It has been reported that the town of Suttsu in Hokkaido is considering applying for a two-year “literature research” into the possibility of storing high-level radioactive nuclear waste. A maximum of ¥2 billion in subsidies will be granted by the central government.

“The future of the town is financially precarious,” said Haruo Kataoka, the mayor of Suttsu, in an interview.

But the money that is thought to revive the town cannot reverse what the nuclear waste is likely to cause.

It is, in my opinion, never a financial issue, but a matter of environmental concern.

What is in question here is high-level radioactive nuclear waste, which can be dangerous for at least 200,000 years and therefore must be handled with the utmost care. It is indeed a problem that any country with nuclear power plants needs to address, however thorny it is. Any indiscreet decision is deemed extremely irresponsible and profoundly unethical.

“Financially precarious,” I must stress, is by no means comparable to environmentally threatening. Besides, it is specifically stated in a Hokkaido ordinance that nuclear waste is hardly acceptable in the prefecture.

Before a final disposal site is selected, or even before an application for research is submitted, the scientific facts ought to be thoroughly understood and the residents properly informed.

The span of recorded history is merely 5,000 years, while 200,000 years is far beyond human experience and comprehension. We certainly cannot live to see what is going to become of the nuclear waste, but I believe that we do not want to leave the thorny problem unaddressed to haunt our future generations.

Jive Sun

Sapporo

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/08/31/reader-mail/nuclear-waste-disposal-matter-environmental-concern/

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

No Japan prefectures positive about hosting nuclear waste site

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Aug 14, 2020

Nearly half of Japan’s 47 prefectures said they are opposed to or held negative views about hosting a deep-underground disposal site for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, a Kyodo News survey showed Friday.

None expressed a favorable stance. The result signals further woes for the central government in its attempt to find a permanent geological disposal repository.

Little progress has been made since the process to find local governments willing to host one started in 2002, due mainly to opposition from local residents.

The survey was sent to all prefectures in July, with additional interviews conducted depending on their answers.

While 16 prefectures such as Fukushima, Kanagawa and Okinawa clearly opposed hosting a site, seven others including Hokkaido, Kyoto and Nagasaki also expressed negative views.

Most of the others did not make their positions clear.

Of the total 23 prefectures that opposed or showed negative views, seven host nuclear power plants.

We are already undertaking a certain amount of social responsibility by hosting nuclear plants and providing energy,” Niigata Prefecture said in its response.

Fukui Prefecture said, “We are generating power. Nuclear waste disposal should be handled by others.”

Meanwhile, Hokkaido mentioned its existing ordinance to prevent nuclear waste from being brought into the northernmost main island, a view that contradicts the relatively positive stance held by one of its municipalities. The town of Suttsu said Thursday it is considering signing up for preliminary research into its land to gauge its suitability for hosting a disposal site.

On Friday, however, its mayor, Haruo Kataoka, said the town has been asked by the prefecture not to apply for the preliminary study.

Before Suttsu, the town of Toyo in Kochi Prefecture applied for the study in 2007, but it later withdrew the application following strong protests by local residents.

In the Kyodo News poll, the western prefecture expressed opposition to hosting a disposal site, saying it faces the need to take measures against a possible major earthquake in the region.

For permanent disposal, high-level radioactive waste, produced as a result of the process of extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, must be stored more than 300 meters underground so that it cannot impact human lives or the environment.

Elsewhere in the world, Finland and Sweden are the only countries to have decided on final disposal sites.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/08/14/national/prefectures-nuclear-waste-site/?fbclid=IwAR2miiMOBxhfF59FEei0aasoMv_vjEeh4SegB4JXShO1pHuZQRR—dnnQc#.XzdKtDXgqUl

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Hokkaido town mayor eyes hosting nuclear waste site

jhhjkThis facility in Finland is the only one where construction has begun on a final storage site for nuclear waste.

 

August 14, 2020

The mayor of Suttsu in western Hokkaido is bracing for a backlash after stating that he wants his small town to be considered as a final destination for nuclear waste by the central government. 

When I think about the future of our town, where the population has been shrinking, there is a need for financial resources to promote industry,” said Haruo Kataoka, 71, in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun. 

I am prepared for whatever form of bashing I may encounter.” 

Kataoka may be in for a long fight. 

Selecting the site for the nation’s final storage of nuclear waste is a three-stage process that can take up to 20 years. At each stage, the central government provides any municipality that has applied with annual grants. 

Kataoka said he was considering having Suttsu apply for the first stage in which past records about natural disasters and geological conditions for the area are examined. 

This stage normally takes about two years, and the municipality can receive up to 1 billion yen ($9.3 million) a year or a maximum total of 2 billion yen. 

The annual budget for the Suttsu town government is 5 billion yen. Its main industries are oyster farming and fishing for Atka mackerel. 

As of the end of March, the town’s population was 2,893. The population has decreased by 30 percent over the past two decades. 

To encourage municipalities to submit applications, the central government in July 2017 released a map of areas that were considered scientifically appropriate as a site for the final storage of nuclear waste. 

Suttsu is the first municipality expressing an interest in applying since that map was released. 

But it remains to be seen if local residents will go along with Kataoka’s idea. He will hold a meeting in September to explain his intention and a decision will be made thereafter whether to proceed with the application. 

Kataoka has also expressed interest in moving toward the second stage of the selection process in which boring samples are taken from underground. This is part of the four-year process to determine if the area meets general conditions to enable the selection process to move to the third stage, in which a test facility will be constructed underground. 

In the second stage, the municipality can receive up to 2 billion yen a year, or a maximum total of 7 billion yen. 

A municipal government can decide at any time to withdraw from the selection process and the grants it has received until then do not have to be returned. 

Because nuclear waste may take up to 100,000 years for radiation to reach safe levels, any final storage site would have to be constructed at least 300 meters underground. 

Suttsu is classified at the highest of four levels of appropriateness, according to the map released by the central government. Its location facing the Sea of Japan makes Suttsu highly suitable for transporting nuclear waste to the storage site. 

But in addition to possible local opposition, the town government will also have to take into consideration an ordinance approved by the Hokkaido prefectural government in 2000 regarding nuclear waste that said no such waste should be brought onto the main northern island. 

In a statement released on Aug. 13, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki said the ordinance, “is an expression of the desire not to allow a final storage site within Hokkaido, and I believe I have no alternative but to abide by the ordinance.” 

Kataoka said that the first stage of the selection process was just a study that did not represent a violation of the ordinance. 

But at each stage of the selection process, the views of the prefectural governor and municipality mayor are solicited and any opposition will stop the process from proceeding. 

Meanwhile, Hiroshi Kajiyama, the industry minister who oversees the process for selecting a final storage site, told reporters on Aug. 13 that a number of municipalities in addition to Suttsu had expressed interest in obtaining information about the selection process. 

While Kajiyama acknowledged his awareness of the Hokkaido ordinance, he added that applying for the first stage of the process did not mean the municipality would automatically move to the second stage. 

The central government has had to resort to offering annual grants to encourage municipal governments to express an interest in becoming the site for the final storage of nuclear waste. 

Commenting on the interest shown by Suttsu, one government source said, “It is a step forward, but if we think about the entire process as a marathon, the race has just started and the runners have not yet even left the stadium (to reach the road).” 

Meanwhile, other municipalities that in the past showed some interest in becoming the final storage site have more often than not met with huge local opposition. 

In 2007, the mayor of Toyo in Kochi Prefecture on the island of Shikoku expressed interest in applying without first consulting the town assembly. Local opposition was so strong that a candidate opposed to the idea defeated the incumbent in the next election and the application was withdrawn. 

There have also been reports of other municipalities expressing an interest in applying, but no formal announcement has been made until now. 

Japan now possesses about 19,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel, but no progress has been made in selecting a site for its final storage. Foreign nations have also experienced difficulties in securing a site for such storage. 

Finland is the only nation where actual construction of such a facility has begun. 

(This article was written by Yasuo Sakuma, Ichiro Matsuo, Rintaro Sakurai and Yu Kotsubo.) 

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13635457?fbclid=IwAR2y1aSmsRZcwyWcLhGzhwRhNED1qP8w2ppgMGxzBcQA0EZFN-ILepvxGn0

 

August 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

8 cases of inappropriately stored nuclear waste found at northern Japan reprocessing plant

kjlklmlmThe Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, is seen in this May 14, 2020 file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft

 

July 15, 2020

TOKYO — Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) had been inappropriately storing nuclear waste at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan, including keeping waste in undesignated areas, the country’s nuclear regulatory body has revealed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) had instructed JNFL to make improvements in its practices in 2017, but the company had left some of its nuclear waste in places where they were not supposed to be. There has been no confirmation that any of the radioactive substances leaked. There have been a series of shoddy practices uncovered at JNFL, which is likely to call into question the company’s attitude.

At the fuel reprocessing plant, uranium and plutonium are extracted from spent nuclear fuel for reuse in nuclear reactors. Highly radioactive waste liquid that is generated in the process becomes nuclear waste when it is solidified in glass. According to the NRA and others, JNFL had been keeping nuclear waste in a building different from the one the waste is meant to be stored in. As for the approximately 160 kilograms of shards of radioactive waste liquid solidified in glass, an appropriate storage method had not been stipulated. There were eight cases of inappropriate storage, some of them spanning the past 19 years.

Inspectors from the NRA Secretariat confirmed inappropriate storage of nuclear waste in August 2017. The regulatory body asked that JNFL correct its practices by August 2019, but only two of the eight cases had been remedied by the end of June 2020.

At a meeting concerning the safety inspection of the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant this past May, the NRA had determined that the plant had effectively met the government’s new criteria. JNFL explained that it had intended to consult with the NRA Secretariat once the inspections had taken place. The NRA, meanwhile, says that the situation is exempt from safety inspections under the government’s new criteria.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200715/p2a/00m/0na/002000c?fbclid=IwAR1ohnwU8wykHwF939fJOtLzQvZrujUk0p9op3mdPs1ujPVtBjfNRjNgcCk

 

 

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste briefings in coastal areas

 
In this video clip from NHK News, check out the *many* proposed permanent nuclear waste dump sites in Japan that have just been announced.
 
Looks like Kyoto and Osaka are impacted. And what is the sea level rise effect on these proposed coastal nuclear waste dumps?

August 27, 2018
Japanese energy agency officials say they will continue to hold public briefing sessions on the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste.
The government last year released a map showing which parts of the country may be scientifically suited to hosting an underground disposal site.
The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has so far invited residents to 55 briefing sessions. Most have taken place in prefectural capitals.
On Monday, the agency held a meeting in Tokyo to explain the sessions to regional officials.
Agency officials said participants tend to question whether highly contaminated nuclear waste can safely be stored in earthquake-prone Japan. They also express concerns over how local people’s opinions may be reflected.
The agency plans to hold further briefings, mainly in coastal areas that are considered to be relatively suitable for underground waste storage.
The districts cover about 900 municipalities.
The officials say they will decide on where to hold the briefing sessions after discussions with the municipalities.
The officials indicate they will continue approaching municipalities to investigate potential waste disposal sites. So far none have agreed to such studies.

 

September 3, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Making nuclear waste has to be stopped

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Special credits to Roger Bristol, Marius Paul and Leonard J. Siebert
August 22, 2018
Roger Bristol —  “Structural materials become neutron activated resulting in radioactive iron, cobalt, and nickel. I am not sure where the chlorine comes from. Carbon is from neutron activation of air and in the stainless steel reactor vessel. Tritium is a fission product and comes from neutron activation of deuterium naturally occurring in cooling water. Thorium and protactinium are decay products of fuel. Uranium-232 comes from neutron activation of a decay product of uranium. Neptunium, plutonium, americium, and curium come from successive neutron absorption of fuel. When uranium is struck with a neutron sometimes it fission and sometimes becomes a new nuclide.
The Ci is a unit of radioactivity. 1 Ci = 37,000,000,000 decays per second. Radium has a half-life of 1,602 years. The unit is based on the radioactivity of one gram of radium. To get the number of grams you would take the half-life and divide by 1,602 times the number of Ci and then multiply by the atomic weight divided by the atomic weight of radium (226).
l Graphite is used as a moderator in some reactors. To purify to graphite of neutron absorbing impurities chlorine is used leaving a residue of chlorine-35. Neutron activation creates the radioactive chlorine-36. Probably the weapons grade plutonium breeder reactors used graphite I suspect.”
 
Marius Paul — “Two other important topics about radioactivity:
(1) Half-lives can be deceptive, as some radioactive materials become more radioactive as time goes on, not less. Examples include radon gas and depleted #uranium. Even irradiated nuclear fuel, which decreases in radioactivity for the first 50,000 years, eventually increases in radiotoxicity after that period of time. Plutonium has a 24,000 year half-life, but when it disintegrates it is transformed into another radioactive element with a 700 million years half life. So half-lives can be deceptive.
(2) Some radioactive materials are very difficult to detect, even in a well-equipped nuclear plant, because they give off non-penetrating alpha or beta radiation – yet they can be extraordinarily dangerous. Examples are beta-emitting carbon-14 dust, which workers at Pickering Nuclear Generating Station tracked into their homes in the 1980s, and alpha-emitting #plutonium dust, which over 500 contract workers inhaled on a daily basis for almost three weeks at Bruce in 2009.”
 
Leonard J. Siebert — “One of the delights for me as I continue to attempt to educate people about Fukushima, is the sheer amount of both ignorance and erroneous information on the subject that plagues humanity.
One of the most laughable premises was that Plutonium, a transuranic element, exists in nature and people shouldn’t be alarmed by it.
Seriously, the article was published in a scientific periodical and while it was later retracted; the damage was done and I hear the comment repeated to this day by the Pro-nuke factions.
So in what will another subject for people to attack me about, question my expertise and accuse me of ‘fear mongering’; I will attempt to relate the facts in layman’s terms and even do so entertainingly.
In many of the reports I post about Fukushima and even in the media, the word ‘Transuranic’ or ‘transuranium’ often appears.
Now I get questioned all the time by ‘experts’ that love to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. However they usually take the tact of asking me basic physics or nuclear energy questions. It is not my goal to teach physics to anyone, plus that would take a lifetime to bring everyone up to the same understanding of the science with my statements. For me that is a waste of time and I have spent too many hours explaining processes that should be apparent to even a high school student in General Science, perhaps the ignorance in the science is a result of common core or too much Star Trek techno-babble; I cannot say. So I am only going to focus on terms, used in the media that are important for you to know. I will do my best to define them in a none bias manner but anyone with a REAL understanding of nuclear energy, knows that it is not clean, cheap, efficient, green or safe.
“Nuclear power is one HELL of a way to boil water.”- Albert Einstein. (He meant that with full irony for the fools he was addressing for even suggesting that idea, sadly the fools controlled the purse strings.)
 
So what is Transuranium?
I have to assume that chemistry managed to seep into your education and that you at least have heard of the Periodic Table of elements. (Please tell me you know the difference between an element and a compound, if you don’t; you need to look up element. This is one of the difficult things about writing anything about science, I have no clue how much you grasp.) On the Periodic Table elements are arranged from lightest (Hydrogen {H} atomic number 1) to the ‘current’ heaviest (Ununoctium {Uuo} atomic number 118). It is the ‘atomic number’ that defines what is Transuranium, anything with an atomic number below 93 is a natural element; anything with an atomic number above 92 (Uranium’s atomic number hence ‘Transuranium’) is an ‘artificially’ made element. So even though people love to affix the prefix ‘trans’ to many different aspects such a gender or race; it actually is a concrete term from Latin, meaning: Beyond, across or over.
 
All Transuranium elements are radioactive, unstable and decay into other elements, usually just as unstable and equally radioactive as the decay process can last eons. While I use the term ‘artificially’, I have qualify that with ‘on earth’. All of the elements with higher atomic numbers, however, have been first discovered in the laboratory, with neptunium, plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium and californium later also discovered in nature. They are all radioactive, with a half-life much shorter than the age of the Earth, so any atoms of these elements, if they ever were present at the Earth’s formation, have long since decayed. What the reader should take from this is the plan truth; the earth was becoming less radioactive, before we started splitting atoms.
 
Enrico Fermi discovered that the nucleus of most atoms could absorb a neutron or neutrons thus changing the element into a new atom in 1933. It wasn’t until 1940 that Edwin McMillan successfully produced Neptunium ({Np} atomic number 93) and 1941 that Glen Seaborg produced Plutonium ({Pu} atomic number 94) that things really started to stink. (See what I did there ‘Pu’; come-on this is really dry material, I have to make it fun to read.)
 
Now don’t start thinking that only transuranium elements are the only radioactive ones out there, because that would be dead wrong. Uranium is of course radioactive as is Radium ({Ra} atomic number 88), Polonium ({Po} atomic number 84), and Tritium ({H3} one of the Hydrogen isotopes). There are of course more many being isotopes like Carbon 14, the one we use for ‘carbon dating’ but it needs to be understood that all these elements and isotopes were in a constant state of decay here on earth. While nature does produce some of them in limited or small amounts, it was not until we began monkeying with fission, that they are now being created all too commonly.
 
My thesis here is part of a broader picture that I refer to as ‘Baseline Background’. What it states is that any increase in acceptable ionizing radiation; must be compared to the ‘pre-artificial fission’ of the Chicago Pile because every background measurement after that up until today, is artificially fortified by the folly of nuclear energy in use today.
 
Plain truth be known, the world is becoming increasingly radioactive and its exponential and showing no signs of letting up. You cannot adapt to it, you will not become a mutant nor can or will any other life on this blue marble. On the microbiological scale, you have already passed the point of no return, on the bio-magnification scale you have sealed the fates of yourselves and your children and Fukushima was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
 
For those who laugh and say; ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ and continue on nuclear energy’s present course; dying of cancer is not a condemnation I would wish on my worst enemy. Yet, you are worthy of your reward for you lack of foresight.”

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Nuclear | , | 1 Comment

Is Fukushima doomed to become a dumping ground for toxic waste?

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16 Mar 2018
Despite promises of revitalisation from Japan’s government, seven years on from the nuclear disaster the area is still struggling
 
This month, seven years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns and explosions that blanketed hundreds of square kilometres of northeastern Japan with radioactive debris, government officials and politicians spoke in hopeful terms about Fukushima’s prosperous future. Nevertheless, perhaps the single most important element of Fukushima’s future remains unspoken: the exclusion zone seems destined to host a repository for Japan’s most hazardous nuclear waste.
 
No Japanese government official will admit this, at least not publicly. A secure repository for nuclear waste has remained a long-elusive goal on the archipelago. But, given that Japan possesses approximately 17,000 tonnes of spent fuel from nuclear power operations, such a development is vital. Most spent fuel rods are still stored precariously above ground, in pools, in a highly earthquake-prone nation.
 
Japanese officialdom relentlessly emphasises positive messages regarding Fukushima’s short- and medium-term future, prioritising economic development and the gradual return of sceptical evacuees to their newly “remediated” communities. Yet the return rate for the least hard-hit communities is only about 15%. Government proclamations regarding revitalisation of the area in and around the exclusion zone intone about jobs but seem geared ominously toward a future with relatively few humans.
 
The Fukushima prefecture government is currently promoting a plan, dubbed The Innovation Coast, that would transform the unwelcoming region into a thriving sweep of high-tech innovation. Much of the development would be directed towards a “robot-related industrial cluster” and experimental zones like a robot test field.
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Aerial view of a nuclear waste storage area in Futaba, with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the background.
The test field would develop robots tailored for disaster response and for other purposes on a course simulating a wide range of hurdles and challenges already well represented in Fukushima itself. Large water tanks would contain an array of underwater hazards to navigate, mirroring the wreckage-strewn waters beneath the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where a number of meltdown-remediating underwater robots have met a premature demise in recent years.
 
Elsewhere on the robot test field, dilapidated buildings and other ruins would serve as a proving ground for land-based disaster-response robots, which must navigate twisted steel rods, broken concrete and other rubble. Engineered runways and surrounding radiation-hit areas would serve as prime territory for testing parlous aerial drones for a range of purposes in various weather conditions – which would be difficult or impossible to achieve elsewhere in relatively densely populated Japan.
 
The planned site for the test field would link with a secluded test area about 13km south along the coast to coordinate test flights over the exclusion zone’s more or less posthuman terrain.
 
Naturally, unlike Fukushima’s human residents, robots would be oblivious to the elevated radiation levels found outside the Fukushima Daiichi facility. In addition, prefectural officials have suggested that the exclusion zone environs could play host to a range of other services that don’t require much human intervention, such as long-term archive facilities.
 
Proud long-time residents of Fukushima, for their part, see all this development as a continued “colonisation” of the home prefecture by Tokyo – a well-worn pattern of outsiders using the zone for their own purposes, as were the utility representatives and officials who built the ill-fated plant in the first place.
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A guard gesturing at a check post exit from the exclusion zone of Futaba town, Fukushima prefecture.
Years of colossal decontamination measures have scraped irradiated material from seemingly every forest, park, farm, roadside, and school ground. This 16 million cubic metres of radioactive soil is now stored in provisional sites in and around the exclusion zone, waiting to be moved to an interim storage facility that has hardly been started and for which nearly half of the land has not yet even been leased.
 
The state has promised to remove all the contaminated soil from Fukushima after 30 years, and government officials have been scrupulous in insisting that this will be the case – for soil. Yet in a nation with about 17,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel rods and no willing candidates for secure repositories, it is only a matter of time before it becomes possible for politicians to publicly back the idea of transforming the area around Fukushima Daiichi into a secure repository.
 
Government officials, including those tasked with nuclear waste storage, describe the quintessentially Japanese strategy of saki-okuri, or calculated postponement, in the context of nuclear waste storage. Such perception management is a subtle business, but by quietly and unrelentingly pushing back the day of reckoning – slowly changing the terms of debate – the broadly distasteful prospect of storing Japan’s most dangerous material in its most tragically maltreated region would become gradually less intolerable to Japanese sensibilities.
 
The expanse of Fukushima in and around the exclusion zone represents an already contaminated area with, since 2011, far fewer residents to protest against such plans. Such a rare opportunity for relatively unopposed intervention in a struggling area will surely prove irresistible to the nuclear lobby.
 
Fukushima has been marginalised, disenfranchised, and outmanoeuvred for decades. After all, the electricity from Fukushima Daiichi went straight to the capital, not to Fukushima itself, which bore the risks. Since 2011, Fukushima has been saddled with the staggering burden of the meltdown’s aftermath that, despite government PR, will encumber and stigmatise its citizens for at least several decades.
 
• Peter Wynn Kirby is a nuclear and environmental specialist at the University of Oxford
 

March 17, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste Crisis in Fukushima is a Human Rights Issue

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Nuclear waste storage area in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Oct 2017).
Traditional early morning Japanese breakfast, briefing on objectives, equipment check and drive into the beautiful mountainous forests of this region: this is the daily routine that will allow us to complete our latest investigation into the radiological status in some of the most contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture.
But there is nothing normal about the routine in Fukushima.
Nearly seven years after the triple reactor meltdown, this unique nuclear crisis is still underway. Of the many complex issues resulting from the disaster, one in particular may have become routine but is anything but normal: the vast amounts of nuclear waste, stored and being transported across Fukushima prefecture.
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A satellite image shows damage at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant In Fukushima Prefecture (March 2011).
As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, gases and particulates which vented into the atmosphere, led to radioactive fallout greater than 10,000 becquerels per square meter contaminating an estimated 8 percent, or 24,000 square kilometers, of the landmass of Japan. The highest concentrations (greater than 1 million becquerels per meter square) centered in an area more than than 400 square kilometers within Fukushima prefecture.
In the period 2013-14, the Japanese government set about a decontamination program with the objective of being able to lift evacuation orders in the Special Decontaminated Area (SDA) of Fukushima prefecture. Other areas of Fukushima and other prefectures where contamination was lower but significant were also subject to decontamination efforts in the so called Intensive Contamination Survey Area (ICSA).
Two areas of the SDA in particular were subject to concentrated efforts between 2014-2016, namely Iitate and Namie. A total of 24-28,000 people formally lived in these areas, with all evacuated in the days and months following the March 2011 disaster.
The decontamination program consisted of scraping, reverse tillage and removal of top soil from farmland, stripping and removal of soil from school yards, parks and gardens, trimming and cutting of contaminated trees and plants in a 20 meter area around peoples homes, and the same along a 10-15 meter strip either side of the roads, including into the nearby forests.
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Aerial view of nuclear waste storage area in the mountainous forests of Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Oct 2017).
This program involved millions of work hours and tens of thousands workers (often Fukushima citizens displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and reactor meltdown), and often homeless and recruited off the streets of cities, and exploited for a wage of 70 dollars a day to work long hours in a radioactive environment. All this for a man-made nuclear disaster officially estimated at costing 21 trillion yen but with other estimates as high as 70 trillion yen.
As of March 2017, the decontamination program was officially declared complete and evacuation orders were lifted for the less contaminated areas of Namie and Iitate, so called area 2. The even higher radiation areas of Iitate and Namie, Area 3, and where no decontamination program has been applied, remain closed to habitation.
In terms of effectiveness, radiation levels in these decontaminated zones have been reduced in many areas but there are also multiple examples where levels remain significantly above the governments long range target levels. In addition to where decontamination has been only partially effective, the principle problem for Iitate and Namie is that the decontamination has created islands where levels have been reduced, but which are surrounded by land, and in particular, forested mountains, for which there is no possible decontamination. Forests make up more than 70% of these areas.
As a consequence, areas decontaminated are subject to recontamination through weathering processes and the natural water and lifecycle of trees and rivers. Given the half life of the principle radionuclide of concern – cesium-137 at 30 years – this will be an on-going source of significant recontamination for perhaps ten half lives – or 300 years.
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Greenpeace documents the ongoing radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan. The area is still contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant (July 2015).
So apart from the decontamination not covering the largest areas of significant contamination in the forested mountains of Fukushima, and in reality only a small fraction of the total landmass of contaminated areas, the program has generated almost unimaginable volumes of nuclear waste. According to the Japanese Government Ministry of Environment in its September 2017 report, a total of 7.5 million nuclear waste bags (equal to 8.4 million m³) from within the SDA was in storage across Fukushima.
A further 6 million m³ of waste is generated in the ICSA within Fukushima prefecture (but not including waste produced from the wider ICSA which stretches from Iwati prefecture in the north to Chiba in the south on the outskirts of Tokyo). In total nuclear waste generated from decontamination is stored at over 1000 Temporary Storage Sites (TSS) and elsewhere at 141,000 locations across Fukushima.
The Government projects a total of 30 million m³ of waste will be generated, of which 10 million is to be incinerated, generating 1 million cubic meters of highly contaminated ash waste. Options to use some of the less contaminated waste in construction of walls and roads is actively under consideration.
Government policy is for all of this waste to be deposited at two sites north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at Okuma and Futaba – both of which remain closed to habitation at present but which are targeted for limited resettlement as early as 2021. Although the facilities are not completed yet, they are supposed to be in operation only for 30 years – after which the waste is to be deposited in a permanent site. The reality is there is no prospects of this waste being moved to another permanent site anywhere else in Japan.
As we conducted our radiation survey work across Fukushima in September and October 2017, it was impossible not to witness the vast scale of both the waste storage areas and the volume of nuclear transports that are now underway. Again the numbers are numbing.
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Aerial view of a nuclear waste incinerator in Namie, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Sept 2017).
In the space of one hour standing in a main street of Iitate village, six nuclear waste trucks passed us by. Not really surprising since in the year to October over 34,000 trucks moved nuclear waste across Fukushima to Okuma and Futaba. The target volume of waste to be moved to these sites in 2017 is 500,000 m³. And this is only the beginning. By 2020, the Government is planning for as much as 6.5 million m³ of nuclear waste to be transported to the Futaba and Okuma sites – a rough estimate would mean over one million nuclear transports in 2020.
On any measure this is insanity – and yet the thousands of citizens who formally lived in Namie and Iitate are expected and pressurized by the Japanese government to return to live amidst this nuclear disaster zone.
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A contaminated house being demolished in Namie town, Fukushima prefecture (Sept 2017).
Perhaps one of the most shocking experience in our visit to Fukushima was to witness a vast incineration complex hidden deep in the woods of southern Iitate and a nearby vast storage area with tens of thousands of waste bags surrounded on all sides by thick forests. The tragic irony of a multi-billion dollar and ultimately failed policy of decontamination that has unnecessarily exposed thousands of poorly protected and desperate workers to radiation – but which leads to a vast nuclear dump surrounded by a radioactive forest which that can never be decontaminated.
There is no logic to this, unless you are a trucking and incineration business and of course the Japanese government, desperate to create the myth of recovery after Fukushima. On this evidence there is no ‘after’, only ‘forever’.
This new abnormal in Fukushima is a direct result of the triple reactor meltdown and a cynical government policy that prioritizes the unattainable fantasy of effective radioactive decontamination, while de-prioritising the safety, health and well being of the people of Fukushima.
The nuclear waste crisis underway in Fukushima is only one of the many reasons why the Japanese government was under scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last month. Recommendations were submitted to the United Nations by the governments of Austria, Mexico, Portugal and Germany at the calling on the Japanese government to take further measures to support the evacuees of Fukushima, in particular women and children.
The Government in Tokyo is to announce its decision on whether it accepts or rejects these recommendations at the United Nations in March 2018. Greenpeace, together with other human rights groups and civil society in Japan are calling on the government to accept that it has failed to defend the rights of its citizens and to agree to implement corrective measures immediately.
Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany

December 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Gov’t says 70% of land suitable for nuclear waste disposal

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The Japanese government unveiled Friday a map indicating potential deep-underground disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, identifying some 70% of the country’s land as suitable.

Based on the map, the government is expected to ask multiple municipalities to accept researchers looking into whether those areas can host sites to dispose of waste left by nuclear power generation. But the process promises to be both difficult and complicated amid public concerns over nuclear safety following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The nationwide map showed that up to 900 municipalities, or half of the country total, encompass coastal areas deemed “favorable.” Areas near active faults, volcanoes and potential drilling sites such as around oil fields are considered unsuitable.

For permanent disposal, high-level radioactive waste, produced as a result of the process of extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, must be stored more than 300 meters underground so that it cannot impact human lives or the environment.

The government will store the waste in vitrified canisters for up to some 100,000 years until the waste’s radioactivity decreases.

As of March, some 18,000 tons of spent fuel existed in Japan with the figure set to increase as more nuclear plants resume operation. When spent fuel that has already been reprocessed is included, Japan will have to deal with about 25,000 such canisters.

The map, illustrated in four different colors based on levels of the suitability of geological conditions, was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Energy minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday that the unveiling of the colored map is an “extremely important step toward the realization of the final disposal but also the first step of a long road.”

Taking the map as an opportunity, “we hope to have communications (with municipalities) nationwide and earn the understanding of the public,” he said.

“It scientifically and objectively shows nationwide conditions, but it is not something with which we will seek municipalities’ decisions on whether to accept a disposal site,” Seko said.

Areas near active faults, volcanoes and oil fields which are potential drilling sites are deemed unsuitable because of “presumed unfavorable characteristics” and colored in orange and silver.

Areas other than those are classified as possessing “relatively high potential” and colored in light green.

Among the potential areas, zones within 20 kilometers of a coastline, around 30 percent of total land, are deemed especially favorable in terms of waste transportation and colored in green.

The map has also colored as suitable a part of Fukushima Prefecture, where reconstruction efforts are underway from the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

But Seko said the government has no plans at this stage to burden the prefecture additionally with the issue of disposal of high-level radioactive waste.

The minister also indicated that Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan, home to a facility to reprocess nuclear fuel, is exempt as the prefectural government and state have agreed not to construct a nuclear waste disposal facility there.

Japan, like many other countries with nuclear plants, is struggling to find a permanent geological disposal repository, while Finland and Sweden are the only countries worldwide to have decided on final disposal sites.

A process to find local governments willing to host a final repository site started in 2002 in Japan, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In 2015, the government decided to choose candidate sites suitable on scientific grounds for building a permanent storage facility, rather than waiting for municipalities to offer to host such a site.

The government aims to construct a site that can house more than 40,000 canisters, with estimated costs amounting to 3.7 trillion yen ($33 billion).

https://japantoday.com/category/national/update1-gov%27t-says-70-of-land-suitable-for-nuclear-waste-disposal#.WXxbhcFJL1A.twitter

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

METI Releases Map of Suitable Nuclear Waste Disposal Sites

To be clear ! No place is ‘suitable’ for storing nuke waste, never was, never will be…

Even more in Japan where you can hardly find land without an active fault beneath it, 2000 plus earthquakes per year. Not counting the volcanoes.

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Japan Releases Map of Areas Suitable for Nuclear Waste Disposal

Japan released a map identifying areas of the country suitable for nuclear waste disposal as part of a broader plan to figure out what to do with roughly 18,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

The map highlights areas that aren’t near fault lines, volcanoes or ground where temperatures are high — thus making them highly likely to be adequate for storing the so-called high-level radioactive waste consisting primarily of used fuel from nuclear facilities.

The map will be used to begin determining the ideal location to store the waste 300 meters (984 feet) underground, according to Hirokazu Kobayashi, director of radioactive waste management at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. More than 1,500 of Japan’s 1,800 municipalities have areas suitable for storing nuclear waste, he added.

The map’s release “is the first step on the long road toward disposing of the nation’s highly radioactive nuclear waste,” METI minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

Before storage, the fuel would be reprocessed at facilities designed to separate usable uranium from high-level waste. Construction of the nation’s first large-scale reprocessing plant at the Rokkasho complex in northern Japan is expected to finish in the first half of the next fiscal year.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-28/japan-releases-map-of-areas-suitable-for-nuclear-waste-disposal

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METI maps out suitable nuclear waste disposal sites

The government on Friday unveiled a nationwide map of potential disposal sites for high-level nuclear waste that identifies coastal areas as “favorable” and those near active faults as unsuitable.

Based on the map, the government is expected to ask the municipalities involved to let researchers study whether sites on their land can host atomic waste disposal sites.

But the process promises to be both difficult and complicated as public concern lingers over the safety of nuclear power since the triple core meltdown in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011.

The map, illustrated in four colors indicating the suitability of geological conditions, was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Energy minister Hiroshige Seko said earlier Friday that the unveiling of the map is an “important step toward bringing about final disposal sites, but also the first step on a long road.”

We hope to communicate (with municipalities) nationwide and win over the public,” he said.

The map is not something with which we will seek municipalities’ decisions on whether to accept a disposal site,” Seko said.

To permanently dispose of high-level nuclear waste, it must be stored at a repository more than 300 meters underground so it cannot harm human life or the environment.

The map identifies about 70 percent of Japan as suitable for hosting nuclear dumps. Up to 900 municipalities, or half of the nation’s total, encompass coastal areas deemed favorable for permanent waste storage.

Areas near active faults, volcanoes and oil fields, which are potential drilling sites, are deemed unsuitable because of “presumed unfavorable characteristics,” and hence colored in orange and silver on the map.

The other areas are classified as possessing “relatively high potential” and colored in light green.

Among the potential areas, zones that are within 20 km (12 miles) of the coastline are deemed especially favorable in terms of waste transportation and colored in green. The ministry formulated the classification standards in April.

Parts of giant Fukushima Prefecture, where decontamination and recovery efforts remain underway from the mega-quake, tsunami and triple core meltdown of March 2011, are also suitable, according to the map. But Seko said the government has no plans at this stage to impose an additional burden on the prefecture.

Seko also signaled that Aomori Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, is exempt from the hunt because the prefectural government and the state have agreed not to build a nuclear waste disposal facility there.

Japan, like many other countries with nuclear power plants, is struggling to find a permanent geological site suitable for hosting a disposal repository. Finland and Sweden are the only countries worldwide to have picked final disposal sites.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/28/national/meti-posts-map-potential-nuclear-waste-disposal-sites/?utm_source=Daily+News+Updates&utm_campaign=477c1bb388-Sunday_email_updates29_07_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c5a6080d40-477c1bb388-332835557#.WXtmQ63MynZ

July 31, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan map showing potential nuclear waste disposal sites to be released

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Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko on July 18 announced the forthcoming release of a map showing the most appropriate areas in Japan to bury high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.
Speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting on July 18, Seko said the “scientific property map” would be released as early as this month.
“Providing the map is the first step in the long path toward achieving final disposal,” Seko said. He added that an informal decision had been made to hold explanatory meetings across Japan after the release of the map.
The map will divide Japan into four colors designating the suitability of various areas for permanently storing highly radioactive waste.
Areas that are within 15 kilometers of a volcano, that are near an active fault, or that are bountiful in mineral resources, will be “presumed to have undesirable properties” and be excluded from the list of possible sites.

July 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment