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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

The penultimate storage of contaminated waste

From Pierre Fetet Fukushima Blog, translation Hervé Courtois
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Contaminated waste storage in Minamisoma in 2012 next to a primary school
 
 
On 28 October, nuclear waste was temporarily stockpiled at a site that is expected to be the penultimate (perhaps the last and perpetual) site in the cities of Ōkuma and Futaba, where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is located.
 
The bottom of a large storage basin was lined with waterproof canvas to prevent groundwater pollution. The rainwater collected at the bottom will be purified by a machine and released into the rivers. This storage area covers an area of 16,000 hectares, but constitutes only 39% of the planned land. It is difficult to get the agreement of the landowners.
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On this land, an incinerator will be built for the uprooted plants and felled trees, and a storage area for highly radioactive ashes. According to the law, the government has promised that after 30 years (before 2045) this storage will have to be moved out of the Fukushima Prefecture, but nobody of course believes it, because no one will accept these dangerous installations near his house.
 
In Fukushima, 15.2 million cubic meters of contaminated soil are temporarily stored on sports fields, in car parks and even in private gardens. According to the plan, most of this contaminated land will be transported to the new storage site by 2020.
 
 
 

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive soil turns up at Fukushima high school

FUKUSHIMA–Highly radioactive soil that should by law be removed by the central government has been left dumped in the corner of a schoolyard here because the construction of a local storage site for waste has been stalled.

Students at the school were not given an official warning that the radioactive soil was potentially hazardous to their health.

When a teacher scooped up soil samples at the site and had their radiation levels measured by two nonprofit monitoring entities–one in Fukushima and another in Tokyo–the results showed 27,000-33,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram.

The law stipulates that the central government is responsible for disposing of waste measuring more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

But as a central government project to build an interim storage site for highly radioactive waste near the nuclear power plant has been stalled, the school appears to have no alternative to indefinitely keeping it in the schoolyard.

Principal Seiichi Takano at Fukushima North High School said the school does not plan to take extra safety measures with regard to the storage of the polluted dirt, saying the waste is not believed to be outright dangerous.

“The prefectural board of education has not set any criteria for us to conclude at what levels of radiation are hazardous to people,” he said.

The fallout is a result of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which unfolded following the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Before the cleanup operation at the school in the city’s Iizaka district on May 24-25, the teacher who took the samples called on school officials to take precautionary measures and issue an alert for students.

“Since it is highly radioactive, we should remind students and staff of the potential danger while taking a step to prevent the spread of polluted dust during cleanup,” said the teacher.

Highly radioactive dirt, which was mixed with tree branches and plants amounted to 20 cubic meters, according to cleanup workers. It was packed in bags and dumped in an area near the parking lot for bicycles used by students.

School officials say they plan to bury the bags by digging deep holes on the school premises to temporarily store them, but they have no idea when they will finally be removed.

The polluted dirt in the latest cleanup first came to the attention of school officials in March when a preliminary survey detected 1.6 microsieverts per hour of radiation at a point 1 meter from the surface of the ground near the bicycle parking lot. The survey is routine before any cleanup gets under way in earnest.

A cleanup operation is conducted with the aim of lowering radiation exposure to below 0.23 microsieverts per hour, a long-term goal the central government has set to limit residents’ annual additional exposure to a maximum of 1 millisievert.

In the previous decontamination operation, the school’s playground was cleaned in August 2011 before classes were resumed for that academic year after a break after the nuclear accident.

A large amount of contaminated soil–far more radioactive than in the current incident–is still buried in the schoolyard for temporary storage.

Cleanup resumed only this spring for the rest of the school premises and its neighborhood in line with a general cleanup plan in Fukushima.

An official with the prefectural board of education said it is not considering additional safety measures concerning the storage of polluted soil kept at the school.

“We are going to ensure safety by taking an approach similar to the existing one before the polluted soil is transported to the interim storage facility,” said a board official.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606150009.html

June 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment