Government to start campaign on nuclear waste disposal sites

Kyodo

The government plans to launch a campaign in major cities to promote the need for permanent disposal facilities for high-level nuclear waste from power plants, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is looking to restart nuclear plants shut after the Fukushima disaster, and has faced criticism over promoting nuclear power without resolving where the waste will ultimately be disposed.

Symposiums are planned for Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and roughly four other cities, hosted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, which was previously solely responsible for the disposal plan.

The organization had held symposiums in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya in fiscal 2013 and in 30 of the 47 prefectural capitals the following year, but participation was weak, with an average of 60 people turning up to each symposium.

Its staff will now be joined by ministry officials explaining the disposal plan, as well as representatives of power companies if deemed necessary, the sources said.

The government is also considering launching an information campaign on social networking services, with the details to be discussed at a METI task force meeting set for Tuesday, the sources said.

The current disposal policy, adopted in 2008, calls for waste to be vitrified and placed in facilities deep underground. Revisions to the policy at the end of the month are expected to include the selection of candidate sites on scientific grounds, without waiting for local authorities to volunteer to host the facilities.