The government should pick candidate sites nationwide that are suitable for building a high-level radioactive waste disposal facility and present them to an unwilling public, instead of waiting for a local government to step forward, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency proposed Wednesday.
The proposal was unveiled at a meeting of a panel that is reviewing the nation’s stalled efforts to find an underground repository site for the massive amounts of waste created as a result of operating nuclear power plants.
The idea to change the site selection process, which has found no volunteer locations, is expected to be included in the new medium- to long-term energy plan that is being reconsidered in light of the Fukushima No. 1 reactor meltdown catastrophe that started in 2011.
The current selection process starts with a local government offering or accepting a government request to conduct a preliminary study of records and documentation related to the suitability of a specific locale.
But the agency realized local governments bear a heavy responsibility in that process, because of strong public opposition nationwide to hosting long-term nuclear waste facilities, due to safety fears.
An organization funded by contributions from utilities started seeking applications from local governments in 2002, but to no avail.
Under the newly proposed plan, the government would present areas that reportedly would not pose major concerns regarding radioactive leaks due to the movement of faults or groundwater flow, based on scientific findings.
The government will also set up a scheme to provide explanations to the public about any disposal facility before a documentation survey of the candidate site commences, while any government that agrees to host such a facility will receive subsidies.