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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:22

May 22, 2015

LDP wants to let evacuees move back to areas tainted with 50 millisieverts or less by March 2017


A team from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is requesting that Fukushima’s nuclear evacuees be allowed to return to parts of the prefecture where the annual radiation dose is 50 millisieverts or less by March 2017.

The proposal to prematurely lift the nuclear evacuation orders was made Thursday by the LDP’s Headquarters for Accelerating Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The conservative party will submit this and other related measures to its leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, later this month after consulting with coalition partner Komeito.

The LDP’s proposal covers two of the three restricted areas around the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which tainted much of the prefecture during the three core meltdowns triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

One of the areas has an estimated annual radiation dose of 20 millisieverts or less. It has been designated as an area where residents can prepare for evacuation orders to be lifted.

The other has an estimated annual radiation dose of between 20 and 50 millisieverts.

The 55,000 or so registered residents in the two areas are only allowed entry for a handful of activities, including short visits and business.

The third restricted area, which won’t see its evacuation status lifted by March 2017, is the most heavily polluted and is estimated to have an annual radiation dose beyond 50 millisieverts. The area, which has about 22,000 registered residents, remains a no-go zone.

The LDP team said the government should take steps to pave the way for a smooth transition in the two less-polluted areas by accelerating decontamination work and rebuilding infrastructure.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is paying ¥100,000 in consolation money to each displaced resident in the two areas every month. The payments are to be terminated one year after the evacuation orders are lifted.

The LDP team proposed that Tepco continue making the payments until March 2018, regardless of when the evacuation orders are lifted for the two areas.

Last year, Japan lifted evacuation orders in parts of Tamura and the village of Kawauchi that had been included in the least-polluted of the three areas. The proposed uniform expiration rules for the consolation payments should also apply to Tamura and Kawauchi residents, said key headquarters official Shinji Inoue, former state minister of the environment.

The LDP team also said the two years through fiscal 2016 should be designated as a period of intensive assistance to help residents restore their independence in their hometowns.

The government should create a new assistance organization for that purpose, the team said, urging the government to instruct Tepco to compensate a wider range of businesses damaged by the nuclear disaster.

The team also said disaster-affected municipalities should cover a portion of the costs for some reconstruction projects. So far, the central government, which had placed responsibility for both promoting nuclear energy and overseeing the industry under the same ministry for decades, has been footing the entire bill.


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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:18

May 22, 2015

Nuclear disaster evacuees voice doubts about LDP recovery plan

Evacuees' skepticism

Evacuee Miyoko Matsumoto sits down in a temporary dwelling in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 21, 2015. (Mainichi)




Evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have voiced skepticism over a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) plan to lift evacuation recommendations for all but the most heavily contaminated areas by March 2017, questioning whether decontamination will have advanced sufficiently by then.

The plan would lift evacuation recommendations for all areas except those with the most severe designation by March 2017. Compensation for emotional stress of 100,000 yen per month per resident would continue to be paid across the board until one year after that.

Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, could have its evacuation recommendation lifted as early as this summer. Under the current system, compensation to its residents would end next summer, but if the LDP plan is adopted, compensation would be extended for as long as a year and a half.

Miyoko Matsumoto, 84, who evacuated from Naraha to adjacent Iwaki, lives alone in temporary housing.

"I am glad that the compensation will be extended, but money is not the only reason that I cannot go back," she says.

While she wants to return to her hometown, her home there was badly damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake and needs to be rebuilt. However, with construction workers busy rebuilding the area, she doesn't know when her turn will come. She adds, "If the neighbors don't come back with me, I won't be able to live there, as my legs and back are weak."

Another evacuee, Fumitaka Kanazawa, 58, fled with his family from the town of Namie to the city of Fukushima.

"Will the evacuation recommendation really be lifted by March 2017?" he asked doubtfully.

Under the decontamination plan for Namie, removal of radioactive materials is scheduled to be completed by March 2017, but that is three years behind the initial schedule.

"They probably timed the lifting of evacuation recommendations and the end of compensation payments to lessen the financial burden on Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)," he says.

The LDP plan states that "for the two years through the end of next fiscal year, the national government will guide TEPCO into providing proper compensation" for businesses and industries affected by the nuclear disaster. For the period after that, however, it only states, "We will react appropriately according to individual circumstances."

Mikiko Matsumoto, 64, used to run a craft store with her family in the village of Katsurao, which is also subject to an evacuation recommendation. The business had continued for over 100 years.

"Now I am getting by on compensation payments, but what will I do if they end?" she asks. Although she wants to reopen her store in the old location, there will likely only be a limited number of residents who return to the village.

"I can't receive compensation forever, but it is obvious that sales will be lower than before the disaster," she says.

Katsurao Mayor Masahide Matsumoto comments, "Not everyone will come back, so many people will see fewer sales than before if they resume business here. Support will be needed for some time even after residents return."

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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:15

May 23, 2015

Risk of hydrogen explosion from leaking containers at Fukushima plant

Tanks without vents: Risk of hydrogen explosion

By HIROMI KUMAI/ Staff Writer

Inspections of containers holding contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant found that at least 10 percent have leaks, which could trigger a hydrogen explosion.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, reported its findings at a meeting with a study group from the Nuclear Regulation Authority on May 22. It said no radioactive water was found to have escaped outside the concrete structures that encase the containers.

According to TEPCO, there were about 1,300 such containers at the plant as of May 20.

They store waste water from the ALPS (advanced liquid processing system) equipment that removes radioactive substances from contaminated water.

The containers, which are made of polyethylene, are 1.8 meters high and have diameters of 1.5 meters.

The first leak was discovered in a lid on April 2.

TEPCO began inspecting others to see if they had similar problems. Of the 278 it had examined by May 20, it found 26 had some sort of leak or were bleeding from their lids.

The operator said the leaks and bleeding were likely caused by hydrogen and other types of gases that resulted from the water’s exposure to high levels of radiation.

Such gases appear to have accumulated in sediment at the bottom of the containers, expanding the volume of the liquid.

An NRA official said the accumulating hydrogen poses a potential danger.

“If the concentration level is high, a spark caused by static electricity could cause a container to explode,” the official said.

Although all the lids of the containers were supposed to be fitted with pressure-release valves to allow gasses to escape, TEPCO’s survey found that one did not have the mechanism.

Further review of the delivery records for the containers showed there may be as many as 333 that are also defective, a TEPCO official said.



Container for Fukushima waste found without gas venting holes


Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) revealed on May 22 that one of its containers for waste liquid remaining after the processing of contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant did not have the necessary holes in its lid for venting out gas.

A total of 305 containers are being used without having been checked for venting holes. TEPCO says it will quickly inspect all of the containers.

The containers hold sludge and other waste liquids containing radioactive materials that remain after contaminated water is put through the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). The waste produces gasses like hydrogen, so as a safety measure the Nuclear Regulation Authority had asked TEPCO to create the holes.

In early April, containers were found to be leaking radioactive waste liquids through the venting holes. Later in the month, a company in a cooperative relationship with TEPCO was inspecting the containers when it discovered the container without the venting holes. Out of the approximately 1,400 containers, 334 -- including ones that are not being used yet -- have not yet been checked for venting holes.

TEPCO has speculated that the work to create the holes was skipped over at a factory in the United States.


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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:14

May 23, 2015

Nuclear waste symposium in Tokyo

May 23, 2015 - Updated 18:40 UTC+2


People in Tokyo have discussed the government's new policy on disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste at a symposium in the nation's capital.

About 300 people joined the event on Saturday. It comes after the adoption of a new government policy one day earlier. The symposium is the first in a series of meetings that officials will hold across Japan.

Under the new policy, government officials will select candidate sites for final disposal of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. This will be done instead of waiting for municipalities to come forward to host sites.

A panelist at the symposium, Akihiro Tada of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, said the selection of candidate sites by the government is not intended to forcibly impose a conclusion. He said it is meant to encourage debate among local residents.

The chair of a government panel of experts, Hiroya Masuda, said scientific judgment will be required to determine whether disposal is safe or not. But he added what's more important is to win public understanding and trust.

One symposium participant said the government needs to show how much nuclear waste will be disposed in order to gain public understanding. Another pointed out it is difficult to convince people to accept disposal sites because many do not want nuclear power.

Officials have scheduled similar symposiums at 8 other locations by the end of next month.


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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:13

May 23, 2015


UN disarmament talks collapse



NEW YORK – A four-week U.N. review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended Friday without adopting a consensus document after negotiators failed to narrow differences over a proposal to make the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone.

The failure to produce an outline for actions for the next five years at the meeting, which took place in the 70th anniversary year of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, raised concerns that efforts to advance toward a world free of nuclear arms will lose momentum.

The conference president, Algerian diplomat Taous Feroukhi, admitted to a lack of consensus at a plenary meeting that was held after hours of delay. Citing “diverging expectations of state parties for a progressive outcome,” she said “it would be impossible for any single consensual document to possibly meet the highest aspirations of all parties.”

With the current meeting — held once every five years — not the first to close without adopting a final document, the conference’s effectiveness in promoting its agenda of disarmament, nonproliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy may be thrown into question.

At the plenary meeting, the proposal for a Middle East zone that would involve Israel — an undeclared but acknowledged nuclear power — was raised by a number of speakers.

Rose Gotemoeller, the U.S. undersecretary for arms control and security policy, rejected a plan to hold a conference on establishing such a zone by March 1 next year that had been contained in the final draft for an outcome document, with the idea having been put forward by the Russians.

She called it “an arbitrary deadline” and blasted Egypt and other states, saying they were not willing to let go of this and other “unrealistic and unworkable conditions” in the text.

Britain and Canada also criticized the conference deadline language in the final text.

Egyptian Ambassador Hisham Badr slammed the United States, saying it had “blocked” an agreement on the nuclear-free zone. It is “a sad day” for the NPT, he said, pointing out how three countries had blocked the agreement. “By blocking consensus, we are depriving the world — but especially the Middle East — of even one chance of a better future,” he added.

Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian head of delegation, said it was a “shame that such an opportunity for dialogue had turned out to be missed, perhaps for a long time to come.”

In the closing days of the conference, some observers said nuclear “haves” and “have-nots” in the NPT framework were narrowing some differences over nuclear disarmament in working out a final document. But consensus was blocked over the issue of Israel, which is not party to the treaty but attended the review meeting as an observer for the first time in 20 years.

Along with many other participants at the plenary meeting, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama expressed disappointment about the lack of a final document, saying it is “extremely regrettable that this conference was not able to adopt a consensus, a substantive document, though we seemed to have come quite near to do so.”

Japan attempted to include an invitation for world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the document, but it was dropped in the face of opposition from China, which said Tokyo was trying to portray itself as a war victim.

Despite the failure to come up with an agreed-on document Sugiyama stressed that this did not change his country’s commitment to the credibility of the NPT regime. “It is not all lost,” he said, adding that Japan will host a series of meetings on disarmament issues in August in Hiroshima.

Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of ICAN, a nongovernmental organization, said the removal of references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki visits was regrettable. “The 70th anniversary is very important to highlight the suffering that happens if a nuclear bomb detonates, and it is not a power-politics issue or an attempt to rewrite history — we just want to make sure that the world knows what a nuclear bomb does when used,” she noted.

NPT review conferences have been held since 1975. The 2005 meeting also failed to produce a substantive consensus document. The treaty counts roughly 190 signatories.



May 24, 2015


NPT review conference’s failure to reach accord disappoints aging hibakusha



Survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki expressed disappointment over the failure of signatories at a world nuclear nonproliferation conference to reach a consensus on steps toward nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

The 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded on May 22 without approval of a final document due to opposition from nuclear powers.

“It was regrettable that there was no progress in the movement on this 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings,” said Terumi Tanaka, 83, the chief secretariat of Nihon Hidankyo (Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations).

The organization sent a delegation comprising 50 A-bomb survivors, known as hibakusha, and others to New York for the ninth review conference of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

During the four-week session, about 190 signatories comprehensively reviewed the implementation of the NPT.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 73, deputy president of Nihon Hidankyo’s chapter in Hiroshima, who recently visited New York for this year’s review conference, said time is running out for hibakusha to see the world making progress toward the nonproliferation and abolition of nuclear weapons.

“We can live only so many years, and it is disappointing to think that we may not be able to see a nuclear-free world in our lifetime,” he said.

With 2015 marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of World War II, the average age of the hibakusha reached 79.44 at the end of March last year.

As he spoke about his experience of the A-bombing to citizens from the United States and elsewhere, listeners seemed to realize the horrendous consequences of nuclear warfare.

So, it was devastating to see the United States and other nuclear powers oppose the adoption of the final document, Mimaki said.

“U.S. President Barack Obama even received a Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to abolishing nuclear weapons, so I can barely understand the U.S. opposition to the final document,” he said.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who asked world leaders to work toward the signing of a multilateral treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons at the conference, released a statement expressing regret over its unfruitful outcome.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, who called for world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki to learn about the disastrous consequences of a nuclear bombing, also expressed disappointment.

“The conference’s outcome can undermine confidence in the current NPT framework,” he said.

Meanwhile, Haruko Moritaki, 76, a co-representative of the citizens group Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, said it was a positive sign that more than 100 countries supported a covenant proposed by Australia to regulate nuclear weapons during the NPT review conference.

“Citizens from around the world must gather together to ride this new tide,” she said.


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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:11

May 24, 2015

Nagasaki atomic bombing-themed opera coming to Tokyo


Japan Opera Foundation conductor Yutaka Hoshide is looking forward to picking up his baton in July when he will direct an atomic bombing-themed opera written by the Nagasaki Opera Association, as the country commemorates the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this summer.

"As a member of the generation that was born during World War II, I want to express the meaning of peace through opera as a composite art," the 73-year-old conductor told the Mainichi Shimbun about the theatrical program "Inochi" (life) in which he has taken multiple roles, from writing script to taking up roles as artistic and technical director.

The opera, which features an A-bomb survivor nurse in Nagasaki in a three-act structure, will be played at New National Theatre in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on July 25 and 26. The theater invites successful theatrical performances from across the country and has a joint showcase every one or two years.

Hoshide was born in Tokyo and completed courses on opera at the predecessor of Showa University of Music. He then moved to Germany in 1969 and served as vice conductor at the Nuremberg State Theater. While continuing his musical performances in European nations, including former East and West Germany, Hoshide moved the main base of his career to Japan and has been mentoring local opera companies in the country.

He's worked with the Nagasaki Opera Association for 30 years. It took Hoshide and the opera company over 10 years to complete "Inochi," whose music was composed by Kayoko Nishiki. The script for the program was written based on personal notes by A-bomb survivors and interviews with them.

"There isn't a single line in scenes of the bombing that I made up," Hoshide explains.

The opera was first played in Nagasaki two years ago, and then in Mie Prefecture. The performance in Tokyo, which will be its third showcase, will feature 40 members in an orchestra with some 80 performers from children as young as third-graders to those in their 70s. Most of the performing members are second or third generations of A-bomb survivors with different backgrounds -- some are music teachers, graduates of music schools and some used to sing in glee clubs. Members include A-bomb survivors as well.

Hoshide added, "Nagasaki is a city of prayers where bells from churches and temples ring at the same time. We'll perform to convey the value of life through the city's historical background and the ways characters in the opera choose to live."

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24 mai 2015 7 24 /05 /mai /2015 20:10

May 22, 2015


Regulator OKs Sendai plant facilities' designs


May 22, 2015 - Updated 10:10 UTC+2

Japan's nuclear regulator has approved the designs of all the newly installed facilities for the No.1 and No.2 reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant.

The approval moves the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan one step closer to restart.

Operator Kyushu Electric Power Company had been slow in submitting some of the design documents to the regulator. They include the designs of shared facilities, such as the control room's air conditioning.

On Friday, officials of the regulator said they finally confirmed the quake-resistance for these designs and that all the designs for safety purposes were approved.

The next step is an in-person inspection by officials that leads to the No.1 reactor's restart. The regulator has been inspecting the newly installed facilities for the reactor since March. But it has completed less than 10 percent of about 200 inspection items as of Sunday.

This will set the restart date of the No.1 reactor to late July at the earliest.

Regarding the No.2 reactor, the operator says it plans to restart it in August or shortly afterward. The power company next week plans to submit to the regulator documents asking for an in-person inspection of the reactor.


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23 mai 2015 6 23 /05 /mai /2015 21:37

 May 22, 2015

Radioactive wastewater leak linked to hydrogen


May 22, 2015 - Updated 08:44 UTC+2


The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says recent leaks of highly radioactive wastewater from their containers were likely due to accumulated hydrogen gas in the tanks.

Tokyo Electric Power Company reported this to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday. TEPCO has found since April that the wastewater, produced during the process of treating radioactive water, had seeped out through the lids of a number of containers.

The utility says that 28 of the 265 inspected containers had leaked, and in 15 of them, bubbles formed when workers stirred the liquid inside, and water levels went down.

The utility believes the bubbles mainly consist of hydrogen, generated by strong radiation inside the containers. TEPCO officials suspect the gas increased the volume of the wastewater, forcing some to overflow.

They say none of the spilled water has affected the external environment. As stopgap measures, they plan to put liquid absorbents on the lids of the containers, and reduce the amount of water stored inside.


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23 mai 2015 6 23 /05 /mai /2015 21:33

May 22, 2015

METI changes tactics after search for nuclear waste host proves futile




The government will select potential areas to host nuclear dump sites instead of waiting for communities to volunteer, according to the revised policy on permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste that was adopted by the Cabinet on Friday.

The revision, the first in seven years, was prompted after towns, villages and cities throughout Japan snubbed requests to host nuclear waste dumps. The government has been soliciting offers since 2002.

The move is seen as a sign that the government wants to address the matter as it proceeds with its pursuit of reactor restarts. All commercial units have largely sat idle since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.

It remains unclear when a final depository could be built, because the policy mentions no time frame. The government also plans to expand its storage capacity for spent fuel by building new interim facilities as a short-term fix.

“We will steadily proceed with the process as (resolving the problem is) the current generation’s responsibility,” minister of economy, trade and industry Yoichi Miyazawa told reporters, adding there will be “quite a few” candidate sites.

They will be chosen on scientific grounds, the policy says.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is seeking to revive atomic power, although the majority of the public remains opposed in light of the Fukushima disaster, which left tens of thousands homeless. Critics have attacked the government for promoting atomic power without resolving where all the waste will end up.

Permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste requires that a depository be built more than 300 meters underground, where the materials must lie for up to 100,000 years until radiation levels fall to the point where there is no harm to humans or the environment.

About 17,000 tons of spent fuel is stored on the premises of nuclear plants and elsewhere in Japan, but some would run out of space in three years if all the reactors got back online.

Under the revision, the government said it will allow future generations to retrieve high-level waste from such facilities should policy changes or new technologies emerge.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to pick final depository sites. Finland is building the world’s first permanent disposal site for high-level waste in Olkiluoto, aiming to put it into operation around 2020.

But many other countries with nuclear plants are struggling to find a site for such a facility. In the United States, President Barack Obama decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a disposal site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition.


Gov't to choose sites for final disposal of high-level nuclear waste


TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Cabinet adopted Friday a revised basic policy on the final disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste, introducing a scheme in which the government will choose candidate sites based on scientific grounds, rather than waiting for municipalities willing to host a final depository.

Under the policy, revised for the first time in seven years, the government is to take such a step given the little progress made in the process of soliciting candidates that began in 2002 due to safety concerns.

The move indicates the government's attempt to address the unresolved issue as Japan gets closer to the restart of idled nuclear reactors after the 2011 Fukushima meltdowns.

The outlook, however, still remains highly uncertain over when such a final depository would be built, with no specific time frame mentioned in the policy. The government also plans to expand the storage capacity for spent nuclear fuel by constructing new interim facilities as a short-term fix.

"We will steadily proceed with the process as (resolving the problem is) the current generation's responsibility," industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa told reporters.

The minister added that the number of candidate sites suitable for building a final depository to be chosen by the government will be "quite a few."

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration is seeking to revive the country's nuclear plants idled following the Fukushima crisis, although the majority of the public remains opposed to the use of atomic power. The government has been under criticism over its stance of promoting nuclear power without resolving the issue of the final disposal of nuclear waste, especially after the 2011 disaster.

For permanent disposal, high-level nuclear waste needs to be stored at a final depository more than 300 meters underground for up to some 100,000 years until radiation levels fall and there is no harm to humans and the environment.

Currently, around 17,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel are being kept on the premises of nuclear plants and elsewhere in Japan, but some nuclear plants would run out of space to keep nuclear waste in three years if idled reactors go back online.

In the revised policy, the government also said it will allow future generations to retrieve high-level radioactive waste from a final disposal facility should there be possible nuclear policy changes or development of new technologies.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to decide on the final depository site. Finland is constructing the world's first permanent disposal site of high-level radioactive waste in Olkiluoto, aiming to put it in operation around 2020.

But many other countries with nuclear plants are struggling to find a site for such a facility. In the United States, President Barack Obama decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a disposal site in Nevada's Yucca Mountain due to local opposition.

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23 mai 2015 6 23 /05 /mai /2015 21:32

May 22, 2015


Nuclear waste disposal problem


May 22, 2015 - Updated 07:46 UTC+2

The biggest challenge facing nuclear power generation is said to be the disposal of nuclear waste.

When spent nuclear fuel is processed to remove plutonium, the resulting liquid substance is hardened by mixing it with glass. This is called nuclear waste.

Nuclear waste gives off strong radiation, which could kill a person in about 10 seconds. It takes tens of thousands of years for such radiation to drop to safe levels.

The government enacted a law on nuclear waste disposal in 2000, and has been asking municipalities since 2002 for candidate sites for disposal facilities.

But no municipalities have volunteered, so the government has decided to select candidate locations from a scientific perspective.

About 2,500 units of nuclear waste from power plants in Japan are now stored in a facility at Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture. In addition, nuclear plants across the country are storing spent fuel equivalent to about 25,000 units of nuclear waste.

None of the 43 reactors in Japan is currently online in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident. Storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel at some power plants could fill up as rapidly as about 3 years if operations resume.

Municipalities that host nuclear power plants are worried that spent fuel will continue to be stored at the plants if no disposal sites are built.


Govt. approves policy on nuclear waste disposal


Nuclear & Energy

May 22, 2015 - Updated 05:12 UTC+2

The Japanese government has decided on a new basic policy for the disposal of highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. It features a greater commitment by the government to select disposal sites.

The policy, revised for the first time in 7 years, was approved at a Cabinet meeting on Friday.

The government plans to bury high-level radioactive waste from nuclear plants at a depth of 300 meters or more in final disposal facilities. But the efforts to solicit candidate sites have made no progress in the past 13 years, due to strong safety concerns.

The new basic policy says the government will name suitable candidate sites for the final disposal facilities and will seek the cooperation of the relevant local authorities.

In an attempt to dispel public misgivings, the policy stipulates that the waste could be retrieved even after final disposal in the event of a change in government policy or other circumstances.

The relevant ministers have confirmed that the government will work to win the understanding of the public and local governments for the policy.

They also decided to draw up an action plan to set up interim storage facilities designed to store highly radioactive waste until the final disposal is carried out.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the government will proceed steadily, starting with efforts to win the understanding of the public and local authorities for the candidate sites. He said no deadline will be set for reaching a conclusion.

The government plans to hold town meetings with residents and briefings for local authorities across the nation, but it faces the grave challenge of dispelling deep-rooted safety concerns.



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