Cohosts of Fukushima No. 1 OK meetings on soil storage plan

JIJI

The assemblies of the two towns that cohost the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on Thursday approved the central government’s request to hold meetings to explain its plan to build storage facilities there for soil tainted by the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Now that the Okuma and Futaba municipal assemblies have agreed to permit the meetings, the central government could start holding briefing sessions to persuade residents to accept the storage plan as soon as this month.

The government hopes to win backing for the storage project by explaining the details of the facilities and its measures for promoting local community development.

The prefecture is home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s aging Fukushima No. 1 plant, where the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami of March 11, 2011, triggered three core meltdowns that heavily damaged the poorly protected facility.

After the assembly meeting, Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said the central government needs to show concrete plans because residents’ opinions are mixed.

Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said his town will make a decision on whether to allow the facilities after watching how the government responds to residents’ opinions.

In March, Fukushima Prefecture and the two towns refused to permit the briefing sessions because the central government had given insufficient explanations about its compensation and regional development plans.

After the central government announced a plan Friday to create a subsidy program to promote local development, the prefectural and municipal governments approved the meetings on the condition that the town assemblies also give their nods.

The central government intends to reach a decision soon on the size of the subsidy program and speed up discussions on establishing a new law for final disposal of the radiation-tainted soil outside the prefecture within 30 years in line with requests from residents.

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