Sapporo, March 8 (Jiji Press)–The town assembly of Suttsu, Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, enacted an ordinance Monday to set up a referendum regarding the potential hosting of a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.
The referendum will ask residents whether the town should accept a second-stage survey, known as a preliminary investigation, for selecting candidate hosts. The first-stage survey, or literature survey, began in November.
Mayor Haruo Kataoka on Tuesday submitted an ordinance for a referendum before the third stage of the survey, called detailed investigation. But a special committee of the assembly approved an amendment that calls for a poll before the second-stage survey as well.
The literature survey looks at geological maps and academic papers on geological layers and the strength of bedrock. The preliminary investigation involves drilling work to analyze geological layers.
Suttsu applied for a first-stage survey to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, in October. The following month, the town assembly voted down a proposal for a referendum asking residents whether they support or oppose the application.
“I no longer have trust in the town,” said Toshihiko Yoshino, 61, a local fisheries-processing industry worker who has been against the surveys since the first stage. “The latest referendum ordinance is a farce.”
NUMO is required by law to hear and respect the opinions of mayors and prefectural governors when starting a second-stage survey. Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki has signaled opposition to the survey.