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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 March 7 - 13  > Government must not impose high-level radioactive waste final disposal site in return for money
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2007 March 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Government must not impose high-level radioactive waste final disposal site in return for money

March 5, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

In order to decide on the location of a high-level radioactive waste final disposal site, the government plans to begin its first stage of the location research in Toyo Town in Kochi Prefecture as early as in March.

The Town will receive a large sum of government subsidy, but local residents are reluctant to receive “money in return for accepting radioactivity.” Nearly 50 percent of the eligible voters took part in making a direct claim to the town for an ordinance to ban the bringing in of radioactive waste, the construction of a disposal plant, and surveys for such a purpose.

High-level radioactive waste emits radiation to the degree that only 20 seconds of exposure delivers a lethal dose. Worse still, it contains substances with a radioactive half-life of several thousand to several million years. The government plans to bury the extremely dangerous material deep underground at the final disposal site. From a scientific or technological stand, however, nothing guarantees its safety for a long period.

Experts are questioning if there exists anywhere in the earthquake-ridden Japanese archipelago a stable geological formation in which the waste can be safely disposed. The waste containers are designed to last a thousand years. No one can deny the possibility that radioactivity may leak out into the environment through underground water aquifers or by movements of the earth’s crust.

The Toyo Town mayor in January arbitrarily volunteered the town for the location research in defiance of the opposition of the town assembly and of townspeople as expressed in the signatures collected from more than 60 percent of residents. A protest rally in which over 300 residents took part adopted a resolution calling on the town “to forever reject any project with respect to nuclear waste.” The town assembly also resolved that it opposes the application, that the town forever prohibits nuclear waste to be brought in, and that the mayor should resign.

Assemblies and heads of neighboring cities, towns, and villages, as well as the assemblies and governors of Kochi and Tokushima prefectures have expressed their opposition to the location research survey.

The Toyo Town mayor applied for the survey because this will entitle the town to a government subsidy of about 200 million yen a year. The government is planning to lure more applicants by raising the subsidy to a billion yen a year.

While forcing local governments into financial difficulties by slashing their block grants, the central government is trying to impose its policy on them through the use of money. This is totally unacceptable.

Until reliable technology for disposing high-level nuclear waste is established, such waste should be kept safely under strict management. Meanwhile, the government must research and develop ways to safely dispose of such wastes.

We also strongly demand that the government cancel its plan to start the full-fledged operation of the nuclear reprocessing plant at Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture this year, as it will simply increase the production of high-level radioactive waste.
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