FUKUSHIMA – The Environment Ministry officially announced Saturday that the government aims to buy 19 sq. km of land around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex to build facilities for the long-term storage of radioactive and other waste churned up by decontamination work.
The plan was unveiled as Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and reconstruction minister Takumi Nemoto visited Fukushima to ask local authorities to approve construction in the four towns hosting Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s two nuclear plants in the prefecture.
The government will also take legislative action to ensure that the permanent resting site for the waste will be built outside the prefecture within 30 years of the storage initiative — if local consent is given — they said.
“The facilities are imperative for the reconstruction of Fukushima,” Ishihara told Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato and town mayors at the meeting. “They will impose a big burden on the local residents, but we hope the plan will be accepted as soon as possible,” he said.
Sato asked the central government to heed local concerns and promote the safety of the planned facilities.
With the dim prospects for building interim storage facilities delaying the decontamination process for areas tainted by radioactive fallout from the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, the government hopes to start using the proposed facilities in January 2015.
Desperate to begin construction in April, the government will seek ¥100 billion in the fiscal 2014 budget for related expenses, including the cost of the land, ministry officials said.
Up to 28 million cu. meters of waste could be stored in the envisaged facilities, which are expected to cost about ¥1 trillion to build, the officials said.
According to the plan, the government will obtain about 16 sq. km of land around the stricken plant, which straddles the deserted towns of Futaba and Okuma, and build storage facilities on them.