” FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa Friday that his prefecture will accept relatively ‘low-level’ radioactive waste that resulted from the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
Fukushima is the first to give consent among six prefectures where final disposal of such waste is planned by the central government.
It follows a meeting that also included Koichi Miyamoto, mayor of the town of Tomioka, which hosts the existing facility where the waste will be disposed, and Yukiei Matsumoto, mayor of the town of Naraha, which accommodates a transportation route to the facility.
Marukawa said the government will make the utmost effort to deal with waste disposal while securing safety and implementing measures to rebuild the region.
On Thursday, both mayors accepted the national government’s plan during talks with the governor, on condition that the government take measures to prevent the project from hindering reconstruction in the municipalities. They found it necessary to expedite disposal of so-called designated radioactive waste as the government is moving to lift evacuation orders still in place in the prefecture.
In talks with Miyamoto and Matsumoto, the governor said the prefecture made the difficult decision, believing that the facility was necessary to recover the prefecture’s environment.
But the governor said the facility should only accept waste from Fukushima, and urged the government to maintain its policy of disposing of waste in the prefecture in which it originates.
Currently, the nation’s designated radioactive waste totals some 166,000 tons across 12 prefectures. Although local opposition remains strong, the government hopes Fukushima’s decision will encourage other prefectures to follow suit.
Subject to the final disposal at the facility will be designated waste that contains up to 100,000 becquerels of radioactive substances per kilogram, such as rice straw and debris at districts evacuated after the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The facility is expected to handle some 650,000 cubic meters of such waste.
In December 2013, the national government presented the final disposal plan to the local governments and urged them to accept it. Taking into account requests from local communities, the government showed in November this year regional economic promotion measures, such as the creation of an industrial complex, and additional safety measures.
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. ”