The Federation of Electric Power Companies applied Wednesday to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry for approval to set up an organization aimed at disposing of high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

If approved, the federation plans to inaugurate this month the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, which will have a staff of about 25, under the leadership of federation Vice-Chairman Kazunao Tomon.

The move is in accordance with a new law that prescribes the basic policy and procedures on the final disposal of radioactive waste discharged from nuclear power plants.

The proposed organization will carry out tasks including selecting a site to bury nuclear waste and building and maintaining disposal facilities.

The nation’s major power companies, with the exception of Okinawa Electric Power Co., which does not have a nuclear power plant, plan to raise the money by adding the cost to power bills.

The additional monthly cost to consumers has yet to be decided, a federation spokesman said.

The move marks the first step toward final disposal of nuclear waste since nuclear power generation started in 1966.

High-level radioactive waste, which takes decades to become less radioactive, is reprocessed and stored for between 30 and 50 years before being buried.

It is estimated that the country’s nuclear power generation by the end of 1999 left 13,300 columns of reprocessed radioactive waste, according to the ministry.

Japan currently has 51 active nuclear power plants.

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