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Deadlock over waste disposal sites?

November 20, 2015

Miyagi governor critical over lack of gov't leadership on nuke waste disposal site


SENDAI -- Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai has criticized the central government for failing to exercise leadership in the construction of a final disposal site in the prefecture for designated waste that include waste contaminated with radioactive substances from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

"Politicians have failed to display their leadership," Murai told State Minister of the Environment Shinji Inoue.

Murai made the remark in a meeting with Inoue at the prefectural government headquarters on Nov. 19, in which the senior vice minister notified the governor that the national government has abandoned conducting detailed surveys on three candidate sites in Miyagi Prefecture.

Since it has become difficult to conduct such surveys for now, the national government could be forced to review its plan to build final disposal sites in five prefectures including Miyagi.

"It'll soon start snowing at the candidate sites, so we have no choice but to abandon conducting surveys within this fiscal year," Inoue told Murai in the meeting. "No progress can be made on the disposal of designated waste without cooperation from local communities. I'd like you to convene a meeting of the mayors of cities, towns and villages in the prefecture to accept detailed surveys aimed at building a disposal site in the prefecture."

In response, Murai pointed out that the Environment Ministry "hasn't done anything although two years have passed" since the ministry selected three candidate sites in the prefecture for a disposal site.

"Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa visited Fukushima Prefecture, but why hasn't she come to Miyagi? It's tantamount to saying the issue of designated waste isn't a big deal," Murai angrily told Inoue. However, the governor agreed to hold a meeting of the mayors of Miyagi municipalities.

After the meeting, Inoue told a news conference that the ministry intends to ask concerned local bodies to cooperate in detailed surveys on the candidate sites.

The ministry told a meeting of mayors in January 2014 that it selected three locations in Kurihara, Kami and Taiwa as the candidates to host a disposal site in the prefecture, and has attempted since autumn last year to conduct detailed surveys on these locations. However, residents of Kami staged a protest to bloc such a survey.

Sato Isamu, mayor of Kurihara, who has conditionally agreed to accept a survey on the city's candidate site, will retract his agreement. "There is no prospect that the deadlock will be broken in the foreseeable future. At a mayors meeting, we'll retract our agreement to have the city designated as a candidate site," he said.

The town of Taiwa is also demanding that a meeting of mayors be held with an eye to retracting its agreement on designation as a candidate site.

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