Environment Minister Goshi Hosono denied on Friday a media report that the government has asked the town of Minamiosumi, Kagoshima Prefecture, to be the host for final disposal of radiation-contaminated soil and other waste generated by the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
“We’ve been looking into various possibilities, but we haven’t officially asked any specific municipalities (about the final disposal site) yet,” Hosono told reporters, noting there are many complex factors involved so final decisions are still a long way off.
But Hosono did not clearly deny that the town on the Osumi Peninsula, at nearly the southernmost point of Kyushu, is not a candidate site.
TBS TV reported Thursday the government considers Minamiosumi as a strong candidate site and has been talking to the town.
“We have not heard anything about this,” said Yuichiro Furutono, an official in the Minamiosumi Municipal Government, adding that officials there were surprised by the report.
He said the town has not been officially contacted by the central government on this topic.
Hosono said he knows the Minamiosumi mayor, as the town has a national park, and that he has talked to him about what’s going on in Fukushima and the debris disposal problem. But he said he discusses those issues with all municipal leaders he comes into contact with.
Finding a final disposal site will be a key element in proceeding with decontamination efforts in Fukushima, where a massive amount of radiation-contaminated soil has to be removed and stored along with other waste.
Before the contaminated waste goes to the final disposal site, it is expected to be stored in interim storage facilities in Fukushima for decades, perhaps until 2045.
The government is seeking sites in Fukushima for interim storage facilities, but local leaders are concerned that the waste will end up staying there after 2045, which is why finding the final disposal site is crucial.
Hosono has repeatedly said the final disposal site will be outside Fukushima, as it is not fair to put all of the burden on people in that prefecture.
The government plans to develop technologies to reduce the volume of waste before it goes to the final site.
Lax use of dosimeters
Tokyo Electric Power Co. says workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have lost 20 dosimeters since June 2011, while eight others were found not to be attached to work suits.
Workers at the plant, crippled by the natural disasters in March 2011, must carry dosimeters attached to their work clothes under rules set by the health ministry.
“At the time, we thought there was no problem, but clearly there was insufficient supervision,” Tepco said Thursday after it learned of the misplaced dosimeters.
According to the company, the workers who lost dosimeters were hired by contractors and subcontractors. Only three of the devices have been recovered.