The Environment Ministry is considering a law that would force the government to dispose of radioactive waste from decontamination work in Fukushima outside the prefecture within 30 years, according to government sources.
The move is intended to make it easier for Fukushima Prefecture to accept a central government request to host “interim” waste storage facilities, which in turn would accelerate the sluggish effort to scrub the area of radioactive fallout from the nuclear crisis.
The government has promised that such waste will be disposed of outside Fukushima after keeping it in the planned interim storage facilities for up to 30 years.
The prefectural and municipal authorities want this in writing because local people fear the repositories will end up becoming permanent.
Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto are scheduled to visit Fukushima on Saturday to seek approval from Gov. Yuhei Sato and four mayors on the construction of interim storage facilities.
Some officials in Tokyo, however, are reluctant about the idea because it will be difficult to find a final disposal site outside Fukushima regardless of whether such a law is enacted.
Vast areas of land have been contaminated by radioactive material released due to the meltdowns of three reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. Around 140,000 Fukushima Prefecture residents still can’t return to their homes.