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Gov't gives up on plan to buy land for storing nuclear waste

21 Comments

The government has given up on a plan to buy land in areas near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in order to build interim storage facilities for nuclear waste.

The government has been unable to secure the understanding for its plan from local residents. Instead, the Environment Ministry has proposed leasing the land for an initial 30-year period.

Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto explained the new proposal Monday in a meeting with Fukushima Gov Yuhei Sato, and the mayors of two towns -- Okuma and Futaba -- which had been designated by the central government as sites for interim storage facilities.

The government has been trying for months to persuade local residents in the two towns to sell their land, especially since they will remain no-go zones for many years to come.

However, Ishihara was harshly criticized last month when he made remarks suggesting that residents in the nuclear disaster-hit area could be persuaded to put up with contaminated waste if the government threw cash at them.

Soon after, Ishihara apologized to Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe and Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa.

During Monday's meeting in Tokyo, the two mayors told Ishihara that residents did not want to sell their ancestral land. They said the new proposal to lease the land sounded better but indicated it will take time to gain residents' acceptance, TBS reported.

© Japan Today/AFP

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21 Comments
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This is when the compulsory purchase laws in Japan are really stupid. No one including the government can't force someone to sell land which they own. But this is a case of both national need and national emergency.

The nuclear disaster site will produce more than 100 million tons of high to low level radioactive waste which will need to be stored for many many decades. Building the storage next to the site is the best solution which will also avoid transporting to other areas of the country. That's about five times the about of debris from the tsunami.

The land next to the nukes of hazard is contaminated to a level that it will be a very long time before anyone can live there again. Does anyone really want to live next to a nuclear disaster?

The landowners and the local governments can't accept the fact they will never return. I think this is a case when the central government should pass a law allowing the building of the storage depot.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

How is it that the government listens to the people on this issue but not about stopping the restart of the reactors throughout the rest of the country? Go figure.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Silly girl: it's talking about land around the plant in "no-go zones",so not exactly "somewhere else". On the contrary, if the landowners nearby, who can't live there anyway, refuse to sell or lease land we'll get the usual, "why don't we 'share the burden' acrossth nation?" with local governments eager for cash handouts soon agreeing to it.

Regardless, it's a shame Ishihara is so much like his dad and constantly puts his foot in his mouth to the point where it's no wonder landowners are dubious.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No need to find and buy land. It's right there in Fukushima. Pay the people good money so they can relocate. Why truck that crap to another location.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I suspect it was not only because of it being their 'ancestral land' they refused to sell, but I'm sure the j-gov was not overly generous with their offers either. In a way it is a good thing they didn't sell their land cos if the government is leasing it at least the owners should have some say in how the land is managed.

However, the real problem is, there are millions of tons of contaminated waste, dirt, building, materials, cars, boats, etc. that have to be stored for centuries. I cannot believe these wombats are still pushing to build more reactors and to restart the offline ones. It just goes beyond my rationale!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The only difference between the two plans is 1) the people get money and 2) the people get money and still keep their land. The area will still be dangerous.

I just don't want to hear about this landowners trying to continue to farm because if they just have gay battle attitude then everything will be ok. I also don't want to hear about more mislabeled food products or prefectural governments complaining about their local products are being discriminated against. I don't want them to mix their products in with other products to make everyone happy.

If buy or rent then no food production should be allowed for at least a 100 years!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The last time I checked, most radionuclides have half lives that are very very veeeeery long. An extreme example, Pu is something like 230,000 years, give or take a few ten thousand.

So first thing that confuses is me is why the official line always says something like: the land will "remain no-go zones for many years to come". Yes. True. But that's a whole lot of those "many years". So knowing they own land that cannot be lived on or used for millennia, wouldn't the rational thing for the landowners be to sell the "ancestral" land and relocate to somewhere where those ancestors can continue to have descendants?

The second thing that always confuses me about this issue, linked closely with the first, is why there is a need to find some other place in Japan to store the nation's radioactive waste. Japan currently has a rather large area that cannot be lived in for millennia (see earlier point). Sounds like prime real estate to store toxic stuff that will stick around for millennia. Why create another site?

I understand that this is an emotional issue for some people, especially those whose land is now useless. I would be hopping mad if it were me. But the FACT that they had a crappy and intolerable thing happen to them does NOT make it okay to spread the misery to other regions. That's no solution. I wish I had a brilliant alternative.... I truly do.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zichi, yet again you have hit the nail on the head!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Here's the thing: if these people, who should know they can never, ever return, are offered "interim rental" deals they get to keep their land while still making big money. Obviously many would rather go for that than a single pay out. It should be mandatory that the land be sold to the government under emergencies such as these, with considerable compensation, of course.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

No one including the government can't force someone to sell land which they own. But this is a case of both national need and national emergency.

Yes the government can, if IT so chooses to do so. But talking about it and doing it are two different things.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yes the government can, if IT so chooses to do so. But talking about it and doing it are two different things.

No that is incorrect. When the Narita expressway was built, a farmer refused to sell his land. It was built around his property. I think a few years back he finally sold it. No one can be forced to sell, there are no compulsory purchase laws.

It should be mandatory that the land be sold to the government under emergencies such as these, with considerable compensation, of course.

Why should they receive any more than market value? The nuclear refugees have been receiving monthly support compensation, to date totalling ¥4.1 trillion and will receive further compensation most likely totalling more than ¥5 trillion. So those with land for the storage depot should receive whatever is a fair price.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Interim storage facilities....Will they be like the leaking storage tanks they've already built? Interim so they don't need to last?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This situation is theatre of the absurd! We aren't given enough info to see of the govt's offers to residents are reasonable or not..............

But the bottom line is permanent measure MUST to taken & they MUST be NEAR the melted down plants, NOTHING else makes any sense.

The land owners I feel for them but push has GOT to shove, they have had time to mourn, bitch, complain, its time to pay the land owners a VERY good price for their land, assist them in re-locating & get the hell on with making disposal sites which are going to basically be contaminated FOREVER!

Sorry to sound harsh but the BS from the govt & people affected has to come to an end & soon otherwise its going to be like WWII Japan will NEVER deal with it!

Its days like this that I wish I had picked up & left because NOTHING MUCH is or will be getting done by the looks of it, Japan really is a fatalistic country, how sad!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So THAT begs the question, where are they going to put it?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Nuclear Waste storage plan in USA/ Years ago, US Govt had a plan to bury all nuclear waste under Yucca Mountain in Nye County Nevada. The Nye County wanted for income. Then GOP and Dem, Rich and poor all opposed. Harry Reid pressed Obama to stop dump site. Casinos in Southern Nevada opposed. Supposed to use Nuclear waste compact system a Japanese company invented but casinos did not trust, claiming waste will come to underground to ruin Southern Nevada and we all will die with cancer, etc. So the plan was scrapped. Once in a while someone suggest to dump in Nevada. So far nothing yet.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good luck with that.

WIPP, a $19B deep storage facility in southeast New Mexico, "The nation's only deep geologic repository for nuclear waste", was designed to last 10,000 years without release of radioactivity, it made it all the way to year 15, last February. Facility is still closed and personnel have made only a few (presumably highly-protected) entries since then.

Echoing zichi, the reactor site is already off-limits, put the temporary facility close to that, but uphill.

Apparently a single contaminated glove combined with other chemicals in a waste drum was enough to shut down WIPP:

http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-8974-what-happened-at-wipp.html

WIPP's recovery website:

http://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipprecovery/recovery.html

July 16, 2014 blog article on updates to WIPP situation, including March 2014 release from WIPP ductwork:

https://www.radcast.org/updates-on-wipp/

In mid-March, WIPP suffered a surface radiation release almost twice the levels released in February. WIPP was designed to isolate highly radioactive nuclear weapons waste from the environment for 10,000 years. It went 15 years before its first leak of radioactivity into the above-ground environment.

The latest elevated radiation levels were detected by monitors placed by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). The monitors measure radiation only after it has passed through the WIPP filtration system, which is designed to minimize radiation that escapes from the storage area half a mile underground. Radiation levels in the storage area where the original leak occurred are possibly as lethal as Fukushima, hampering efforts to determine the source, cause, and scale of the February leak.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The US has quite a few examples of how not to run a dump. http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/yakama_nation_fights_for_nuclear_waste_cleanup_at_hanford_site/. Yucca mountain, which Toshiko mentioned, looks like a better design, but people find it hard to trust when there are so many examples of poor management, and that has to include trust toward whoever is transporting waste to and from a potential site.

Japan's example so far seems worse than the low bar set by the US. A great site still depends on skilled personnel to run it, and on continued funding forever, in good times and bad. Nevertheless, they have to create a space somewhere, and cutting down on transportation to and from the site seems like the best choice for both safety and cost.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sorry, I meant to post a link to info about the Hanford site above, but the link goes to the site's front page for some reason. If you search for "Hanford" at the site it goes to, you can find it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The government has been unable to secure the understanding for its plan from local residents.

Are we surprised?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Nightshade,

Half lives range from extremely short to very long, but the great majority of radioactivity is from shorter-lived isotopes. Also, the isotopes that were released in significant amounts from the reactors (due to their physical and chemical natures) were almost entirely short-to-medium lived isotopes. Longer-lived isotopes, like plutonium, are heavy solids, and stayed put inside the reactors.

Virtually all of the elevated radiations levels (exposures) in areas around the plant are due to Cs-137 and Cs-134, which have half lives of ~30 and ~2 years, respectively. Tritium has already decayed away and the dose (radiation levels) from longer lives isotopes is negligible.

Due to other factors like cleanup efforts and environmental dispersion (i.e., the radioactive material being "washed away"), the radiation levels in the currently off-limits areas will fall faster than the 30-year half life suggests. Thus, the majority of those areas will have radiation levels within the range of natural background in a matter of years (i.e., not even decades).

That said, yes the areas around the plant would be a great place for disposal of low and intermediate level wastes (that decay faster) and storage site for spent fuel assemblies (long-lived wastes). Eventually, a deep geologic repository site would be found for those high-level wastes. (That or reprocessing.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@smithinjapan - I guess you missed the news about trucking that stuff to tochigi and they are also talking about ibaraki, Chiba, and gunma.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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