UTSUNOMIYA – About 2,700 residents of Shioya, Tochigi Prefecture, gathered Saturday to oppose the central government’s choice of the town as a candidate site for the final disposal of some of the radiation-tainted waste resulting from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The residents adopted a resolution urging the plan be scrapped. Among those taking part was Mayor Hirobumi Inomata from Kami, another candidate site in Miyagi Prefecture.
In Tochigi Prefecture, designated waste that contains more than 8,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram is currently stored at about 170 different locations on a temporary basis.
For final disposal, the Environment Ministry selected state-owned land in Shioya at the end of July, but the plan has since met strong local opposition.
In 2012, another city in Tochigi Prefecture, Yaita, which borders Shioya, was selected as a candidate site for final waste disposal. However, the government was later forced to reconsider the decision due to fierce local opposition.
The state is planing to build landfill facilities for final disposal in five prefectures — Tochigi, Miyagi, Chiba, Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures — which lack the capacity to dispose of such waste at existing facilities.
In a related move Friday, three nuclear plant makers denied responsibility for the March 2011 Fukushima meltdown at the first hearing on a lawsuit seeking damages from the companies.
Representatives from Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and General Electric Co. sought to dismiss the damage claims in Tokyo District Court.
The claims were lodged by about 1,400 people in Japan, including Fukushima residents, and 2,400 people from other places with nuclear plants, such as South Korea and Taiwan.
According to the plaintiffs, the plant makers insisted they have no obligation to compensate for damage from the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, referring to the law on nuclear damage compensation, which stipulates that only power suppliers have responsibilities for nuclear accidents.
The plaintiffs claim that the law, which gives nuclear plant makers immunity from compensation claims, violates the Constitution and therefore is invalid. Under the product liability law and other laws, they are demanding payment of ¥100 each.
Meeting with the press after speaking in court, Kazue Morizono, a 53-year-old resident of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, said she hopes the lawsuit will clarify responsibility for the nuclear accident.