Fukushima Prefecture signaled Dec. 2 it will host the final disposal site for highly radioactive waste produced by the 2011 nuclear disaster, with Governor Masao Uchibori expected to relay his decision to the Environment Ministry this week.
The central government’s plan calls for the Fukushima Ecotech Clean Center, a privately run disposal facility in Tomioka near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, to be nationalized. The center will then accept about 650,000 cubic meters of garbage, including “designated waste.”
Designated waste refers to contaminated refuse such as rice straw, sewage sludge and incinerated ash of household garbage that contain more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactivity.
With 138,000 tons of such garbage, Fukushima Prefecture accounts for more than 80 percent of the estimated national total of 166,000 tons.
The Environment Ministry program requires all prefectures where radioactive fallout rained down after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant to dispose of designated waste within their own jurisdictions.
According to a ministry report, such waste existed in 11 other prefectures as of the end of September.
In Fukushima Prefecture, town officials in Tomioka and nearby Naraha were initially opposed to the ministry’s plan on grounds that hosting the disposal site would discourage many evacuees from returning to their homes.
All residents of Tomioka, which is within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant, are still living as evacuees because of high radiation levels in the town.
The distribution route for the planned final disposal facility runs through Naraha, most of which is also within the 20-km zone.
The two municipalities became more accepting of the project after the ministry presented safeguard measures for the disposal and the prefectural government promised the towns a combined grant of 10 billion yen ($81 million) to advance the project.
◇Two mayors in Fukushima OK final disposal of ‘low-level’ nuclear waste(The Japan Times):
On Wednesday, the prefecture showed the two towns its plan to extend subsidies worth ¥10 billion for such measures as dealing with rumors and urged them to agree to the disposal plan.