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Hokkaido town may apply for radioactive waste site selection survey

  • August 13, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 8:10 p.m.
  • English Press

Sapporo/Tokyo, Aug. 13 (Jiji Press)–The town of Suttsu in the northernmost Japan prefecture of Hokkaido is considering accepting a literature survey for the process to select a municipality to host a final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, it was learned Thursday.


The literature survey is the first of the three stages of examination in the selection process.


“We’re receiving inquiries from several municipalities” about the survey, industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told reporters Thursday.

If Suttsu applies for the survey, it will become the first municipality to do so since the central government released in 2017 a map showing that some 30 pct of the country’s land, covering some 900 municipalities, is deemed suitable to host final disposal sites.

But it is uncertain whether Suttsu will actually make such an application as local residents are expected to oppose the move due to safety concerns.

The Hokkaido government says in an ordinance that radioactive waste is unacceptable in the prefecture. Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki said in a statement Thursday that he thinks the ordinance must be observed.

The central government offers up to 2 billion yen in subsidies to a municipality that undergoes the literature survey.

“We’re considering (applying for the survey) as a way to secure financial resources,” an official of the Suttsu town government said, noting that Suttsu is facing financial difficulties, and that its population is declining.

Officials of the town government will discuss the matter with Suttsu municipal assembly members on Aug. 26 while taking account of opinions of local residents and nearby municipalities.

Suttsu, in western Hokkaido and facing the Sea of Japan, is included in areas deemed suitable to host a radioactive waste final disposal site on the map created by the state government.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, which takes charge of construction work for nuclear waste disposal facilities, has been seeking municipalities to host such facilities since 2002.

So far, only the town of Toyo, Kochi Prefecture, western Japan, has offered to become a host. But it withdrew its application in 2007.

The second-stage examination in the host municipality selection process is called preliminary investigation, and the second stage is called detailed investigation.

The whole examination process, from the first to third stages, aimed at finding out whether geographical layers in candidate sites are stable enough, takes about 20 years, according to NUMO.

For final disposal, high-level radioactive waste, or liquids containing highly radioactive substances, generated in the process of extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel from nuclear power plants, is buried more than 300 meters under the ground after being vitrified and put into metal containers.

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