Tokyo, Nov. 17 (Jiji Press)–A first-stage survey began Tuesday in two municipalities in Hokkaido to see whether they have locations suited to host a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants in Japan.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, started the so-called literature survey in the town of Suttsu and the village of Kamoenai in the northernmost Japan prefecture, marking the first time ever for the survey being conducted in the country. On the day, the industry ministry gave necessary approval for conducting the survey.
Previously, the town of Toyo in Kochi Prefecture, western Japan, applied for a literature survey in 2007, but later canceled the application before the start of the survey.
The literature survey, which checks geological literature and data, is the first of the three stages of examination in the selection process. Suttsu and Kamoenai will each get up to 2 billion yen in state subsidies in exchange for accepting the first-stage survey.
NUMO will spend about two years checking geographical layers and the strength of bedrock in the two municipalities based on geological maps and academic papers. Through the first-stage work, the institute will pick candidate locations for the second-stage survey, called preliminary investigation, in which drilling work will be carried out to analyze geographical layers.
In line with the survey, NUMO plans to arrange meetings with local residents for reporting progress in the survey and exchanging opinions on local revitalization. But NUMO said that details, including when and how often such talks will be held, have yet to be decided.
In October, Suttsu and Kamoenai, which are both struggling with depopulation, decided to accept or apply for the literature survey in the light of their financial needs.
On Friday, the assembly of Suttsu voted down a proposal to set an ordinance, as sought by locals, for holding a referendum asking residents whether to support or oppose the town’s application for the first-stage survey.
The central government has explained that the approval by the prefectural governor is required for NUMO to move on to the second-stage survey after finishing the literature survey.
In response to the start of the first-stage survey, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki released a statement saying that he is “opposed at the moment” to the second-stage survey, reiterating his intention not to give his approval.
Kamoenai Mayor Masayuki Takahashi said that the village will keep asking the state and NUMO to provide correct information, hold dialogue with local residents thoroughly and take measures to prevent and deal with harmful rumors.