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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 October 18 - 24  > Citizens question government about candidate sites for burying high-level nuclear waste
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2017 October 18 - 24 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Citizens question government about candidate sites for burying high-level nuclear waste

October 18, 2017
The Abe government on October 17 held its first public meeting in Tokyo regarding a map indicating candidate sites for the permanent storage of high-level nuclear waste produced from spent nuclear fuel.

Spent nuclear fuel is reprocessed, mixed with glass components, and solidified into chemically stable substances which are called high-level nuclear waste. As a measure to deal with such waste, the national government advocates a geological disposal policy under which high-level nuclear waste will be buried underground at depths of more than 300 meters. Based on this policy, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in July published a map of potential candidates for final disposal sites.

The map classifies areas across Japan into two groups, inappropriate and appropriate locations, according to their geological characteristics. Areas near volcanos and active faults are sorted into the inappropriate location group. In the appropriate group, areas located within 20 kilometers from coastal lines are designated as preferable candidates from the standpoint of transportation. In these areas are situated half of all municipalities in Japan.

In the public meeting, officials of the METI and the METI-affiliated Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) which will carry out candidate site assessment explained the map which they claimed is “scientific”.

Among citizens who attended the meeting, some voiced their doubts about how “scientific” the map is and others criticized the government for trying to deal with spent fuel with its commitment to the continuance of its nuclear fuel cycle program.

A 59-year-old male participant said, “When I asked what if the nuclear fuel cycle program ends up in failure, a NUMO official was unable to answer. METI and NUMO officials’ explanation failed to dispel my concern that underground nuclear waste storage may affect underground water at the storage site.”

Past related article:
> No municipality should be placed under gov’t pressure to accept disposal sites for nuclear waste [August 5, 2017]
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