National

Fukushima governor accepts Tepco plan to scrap No. 2 nuclear plant and store spent fuel on site

Kyodo

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday his prefecture will accept a decision by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., or Tepco, to scrap the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear complex, which is located near the No. 1 plant that was crippled in the March 2011 disaster.

In a meeting with Tomoaki Kobayakawa, the president of the utility, the governor also accepted its plan to build an on-site storage facility to store spent nuclear fuel.

The decision means that all 10 nuclear reactors in the northeastern prefecture, including the six at the Fukushima No. 1 complex 12 kilometers from the No. 2 plant, will be scrapped, though the decommissioning work will take decades.

Tepco’s decision to scrap the No. 2 complex, expected to cost around ¥280 billion ($2.6 billion), was formally approved at the company’s board meeting held on Wednesday.

While three of the reactors at the No. 1 complex experienced meltdowns in March 2011, the earthquake and tsunami disaster did not cause serious structural damage to the No. 2 plant.

“I’m grateful that I received a certain degree of understanding. We will proceed (with the decommissioning) with a renewed sense of responsibility,” Kobayakawa said in the meeting with the governor.

Uchibori and Kobayakawa discussed Tepco’s plan last week, with the governor saying that while he welcomed the scrapping of the reactors he needed to consult the towns hosting the complex about the storage facility.

Tepco has not picked a final disposal site for the spent fuel from the No. 2 complex, raising concern among local residents that the radioactive nuclear waste may remain stored on-site for a long time.

“The premise is that the nuclear fuel will be transported out of the prefecture. Temporary storage for the time being is unavoidable,” Uchibori said.

He later told reporters Tepco had assured him that the storage facility would not be permanent.

The No. 2 plant currently has around 10,000 assemblies of spent fuel cooling in pools.

The scrapping of the No. 2 plant also means that the central government’s annual subsidies of around ¥1 billion for each of the towns of Naraha and Tomioka that host the facility will eventually be terminated.

Revenue linked to the nuclear plant, from property taxes and in other forms, accounted for 25 percent of Naraha’s total revenue and 40 percent of Tomioka’s.

Uchibori said he will ask the government to take into account “the financial situation of the two towns in view of the special circumstances relating to the decommissioning.”

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