In excess of 496,000 cu. meters of low-level radioactive waste would need to be disposed of through burial if every nuclear reactor in the country is decommissioned, according to government officials.
In addition to high-level radioactive waste represented by the spent nuclear fuel, low-level waste must be buried for disposal and kept apart from residential settlements for up to 400 years.
To pass the costs of reactor decommissioning on to electricity users, power companies estimate the volume of low-level radioactive waste that needs to be disposed of and submit the figures to the Natural Resources and Energy Agency.
Of the low-level waste, pressure vessels, which contain nuclear fuel in reactors, and fuel control rods are among the most dangerous. They are categorized as L1 waste, which must be buried deeper than 50 meters and managed for an estimated 300 to 400 years.
Postponing a decision on where to bury such waste in turn delays decommissioning work or means the waste will need to be stored temporarily on the premises of nuclear power stations.
Once new reactors under construction enter into operations, including at Electric Power Development Co.’s Oma plant in Aomori Prefecture, Japan’s mountain of nuclear waste will only continue to grow.