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13 December 2015

Japan to Consider Ocean Disposal of Nuclear Waste

Citizens in Hokkaido decry attempts to create a nuclear
waste disposal site in Hokkaido during a rally in Sapporo
in June. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Japan to consider ocean disposal of nuclear waste
The Asahi Shimbun, 12 December 2015

The industry ministry will consider the feasibility of burying high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants under the seabed, which a working panel said Dec. 11 could be a “highly appropriate” solution.

In an interim report on disposal methods of highly contaminated materials from spent nuclear fuel, the panel said such waste could be disposed of in adjacent waters within 20 kilometers of the coastline.

It called the disposal method relatively realistic because the circulation of groundwater at sea is not as strong as on land. The panel said the site should be created in adjacent waters so that nuclear waste can easily be transported by ships.

The panel included the under-the-seabed disposal plan in nearby waters as a viable option for the final disposal site.

Based on this proposal, the ministry will set up an expert panel in January to discuss what specific technical challenges lay ahead.

The expert panel will discuss locations of active faults under the seabed and the impact of sea level changes to evaluate the feasibility of the project. It is expected to issue its recommendations by next summer.

While the government has encouraged municipalities to submit candidate sites for nuclear waste disposal, it is being forced to rethink this policy because no local government has come forward to provide a realistic disposal site.

Instead, it will hand-pick the “candidate sites from scientific perspectives” and unilaterally request local governments to comply with its research and inspection efforts.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201512120027

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