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Monday, 18 August 2014

Town rejects plans to build radioactive waste site

The mayor of Shioya, in Tochigi Prefecture north of Tokyo, has demanded that the government retract its plan to build a permanent radioactive waste storage site in his town.

The Environment Ministry is seeking to construct facilities in 5 prefectures within the Tokyo metropolitan area and northern Japan. The facilities will permanently hold sewage sludge, incinerated ash, and other debris contaminated with more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive materials. The highly radioactive waste was incurred by the nuclear accident in Fukushima in March 2011.

Last month, the ministry decided to use state-owned land in Shioya to build one of the facilities. The ministry wants the town's cooperation in field surveys in the area. But the town is opposed to the construction.
Town Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata and the speaker of the local assembly visited the ministry on Monday.

They submitted in writing concerns over the storage facility, saying it will have a negative effect on the town's natural water resources and agricultural products. They said local produce will be hit hard by rumors concerning food safety.

Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue said the facilities are desperately needed. He said the ministry is ready to explain the plan to the town.

Mayor Mikata later told reporters the government must provide explanations why the Shioya site was chosen before detailed inspections were made.

An expert panel set up by Tochigi Prefecture will meet on Wednesday to examine the process used by the government to select the location.
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