• Kyodo

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Masashi Sugiyama, mayor of Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, told the municipal assembly Thursday that he will invite Tokyo Electric Power Co. to set up interim storage facilities in the city for spent nuclear fuel.

The central government claims the storage facilities are an indispensable element of the nation’s nuclear fuel-cycle program. The volume of spent fuel from nuclear plants is already projected to exceed the capacity of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant now under construction in Aomori Prefecture.

Tepco has said it would remove the nuclear waste from the Mutsu storage facilities after 50 years.

Analysts meanwhile charge that there may not be sufficient reprocessing capacity to handle the waste when the time comes.

Tepco has proposed building two interim storage facilities capable of handling up to 6,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel at Mutsu’s Sekinehama port. The utility has said it wants to put one facility into operation by 2010.

The plan must first be approved by the governor of Aomori Prefecture, after which Tepco would be required to apply to Mutsu for a construction permit, according to Tepco and prefectural authorities.

A city assembly panel set up to study the bid has approved the construction plan.

However, some residents are strongly opposed to storing nuclear waste in their city and are calling for a plebiscite.

Aomori Prefecture will hold an election for a new governor Sunday. The former governor, Morio Kimura, resigned amid a sex scandal.

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