• Kyodo

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The predecessor of the government’s Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute selected more than 40 sites in 12 prefectures as candidates for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste in the late 1980s, according to a citizens’ group monitoring nuclear issues.

The candidate sites selected by Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp. from 1986 to 1988 were in Hokkaido, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Niigata, Nagano, Gifu, Ehime, Kochi, Nagasaki, Miyazaki and Kagoshima, according to a report obtained by the group, called Citizens Net Gifu.

The Japan Nuclear Cycle Development Institute said it is not bound by the report, but members of the antinuclear group are concerned the candidates will be reconsidered if the institute has difficulties choosing new disposal sites.

The group obtained the report under the information disclosure law, but the nuclear institute chose not to identify the specific candidate municipalities.

The group plans to file a suit to obtain the full report.

The report says the sites ranging from 3 sq. km to 5 sq. km were selected after studying aerial photos and geological surveys to ensure they were not near active faults lines or residential areas.

The institute never made a final decision on which sites it would use.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is currently looking for disposal sites nationwide, but no municipalities have volunteered.

Nuclear sub disposal

MOSCOW (Kyodo) Japanese and Russian officials in charge of a bilateral program to dismantle Russia’s decommissioned nuclear arsenal agreed Thursday to set up a joint task force by April to push the dismantling of retired nuclear submarines in the Russian Far East.

The project, set up in 1993, has made slow progress. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called for efforts to dismantle the submarines to be stepped up during a visit to Moscow in January.

Japan and Russia established the nuclear weapons disposal committee in 1993 after the Pacific Fleet was found to have been dumping radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan.

At Thursday’s meeting, it was agreed to begin by dismantling Victor III submarines, and to intensify work on the project.

The two sides also agreed to draw up rules governing the use of funds that have been appropriated by the Japanese government for the dismantling operation.

Japan has provided 20 billion yen to finance the dismantling operation, although 15.8 billion yen remains untouched. The project has been languishing because of the “slow decision-making process” in Russia, a Japanese government source said.

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