Utilities should be responsible for establishing temporary storage facilities for high-level radioactive waste as a prerequisite for restarting their nuclear reactors, according to a panel of experts that advises the government.
The Science Council of Japan, which is made up of scientists, proposed in a report released on Thursday that the government start discussions about requiring electric power companies to set up facilities within their regions to store radioactive waste for 30 years. The idea would be to give the government time to come up with long-term policies, supported by the public, on how to dispose of the waste.
Restarting reactors without clear measures to cope with nuclear waste is irresponsible and will have an impact on future generations, the report said.
Although the panel’s proposals do not have legally binding power, the panel has the authority to advise the government. Its recommendation is likely to spur debate concerning the storage of nuclear waste, since the government’s new safety standards don’t currently require utilities to have waste storage facilities in place as a prerequisite for restarting their nuclear reactors.
From a technical point of view, the council said that dry cask storage, which usually uses steel cylinders, would be the best way to store spent nuclear fuel. Vitrification, in which the fuel is turned into solid glass, would be another option.
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