Gov’t says 70% of land suitable for nuclear waste disposal

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The Japanese government unveiled Friday a map indicating potential deep-underground disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, identifying some 70% of the country’s land as suitable.

Based on the map, the government is expected to ask multiple municipalities to accept researchers looking into whether those areas can host sites to dispose of waste left by nuclear power generation. But the process promises to be both difficult and complicated amid public concerns over nuclear safety following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The nationwide map showed that up to 900 municipalities, or half of the country total, encompass coastal areas deemed “favorable.” Areas near active faults, volcanoes and potential drilling sites such as around oil fields are considered unsuitable.

For permanent disposal, high-level radioactive waste, produced as a result of the process of extracting uranium and plutonium from spent fuel, must be stored more than 300 meters underground so that it cannot impact human lives or the environment.

The government will store the waste in vitrified canisters for up to some 100,000 years until the waste’s radioactivity decreases.

As of March, some 18,000 tons of spent fuel existed in Japan with the figure set to increase as more nuclear plants resume operation. When spent fuel that has already been reprocessed is included, Japan will have to deal with about 25,000 such canisters.

The map, illustrated in four different colors based on levels of the suitability of geological conditions, was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Energy minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday that the unveiling of the colored map is an “extremely important step toward the realization of the final disposal but also the first step of a long road.”

Taking the map as an opportunity, “we hope to have communications (with municipalities) nationwide and earn the understanding of the public,” he said.

“It scientifically and objectively shows nationwide conditions, but it is not something with which we will seek municipalities’ decisions on whether to accept a disposal site,” Seko said.

Areas near active faults, volcanoes and oil fields which are potential drilling sites are deemed unsuitable because of “presumed unfavorable characteristics” and colored in orange and silver.

Areas other than those are classified as possessing “relatively high potential” and colored in light green.

Among the potential areas, zones within 20 kilometers of a coastline, around 30 percent of total land, are deemed especially favorable in terms of waste transportation and colored in green.

The map has also colored as suitable a part of Fukushima Prefecture, where reconstruction efforts are underway from the 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

But Seko said the government has no plans at this stage to burden the prefecture additionally with the issue of disposal of high-level radioactive waste.

The minister also indicated that Aomori Prefecture in northeastern Japan, home to a facility to reprocess nuclear fuel, is exempt as the prefectural government and state have agreed not to construct a nuclear waste disposal facility there.

Japan, like many other countries with nuclear plants, is struggling to find a permanent geological disposal repository, while Finland and Sweden are the only countries worldwide to have decided on final disposal sites.

A process to find local governments willing to host a final repository site started in 2002 in Japan, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In 2015, the government decided to choose candidate sites suitable on scientific grounds for building a permanent storage facility, rather than waiting for municipalities to offer to host such a site.

The government aims to construct a site that can house more than 40,000 canisters, with estimated costs amounting to 3.7 trillion yen ($33 billion).

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METI Releases Map of Suitable Nuclear Waste Disposal Sites

To be clear ! No place is ‘suitable’ for storing nuke waste, never was, never will be…

Even more in Japan where you can hardly find land without an active fault beneath it, 2000 plus earthquakes per year. Not counting the volcanoes.

 

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Japan Releases Map of Areas Suitable for Nuclear Waste Disposal

Japan released a map identifying areas of the country suitable for nuclear waste disposal as part of a broader plan to figure out what to do with roughly 18,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste.

The map highlights areas that aren’t near fault lines, volcanoes or ground where temperatures are high — thus making them highly likely to be adequate for storing the so-called high-level radioactive waste consisting primarily of used fuel from nuclear facilities.

The map will be used to begin determining the ideal location to store the waste 300 meters (984 feet) underground, according to Hirokazu Kobayashi, director of radioactive waste management at Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. More than 1,500 of Japan’s 1,800 municipalities have areas suitable for storing nuclear waste, he added.

The map’s release “is the first step on the long road toward disposing of the nation’s highly radioactive nuclear waste,” METI minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

Before storage, the fuel would be reprocessed at facilities designed to separate usable uranium from high-level waste. Construction of the nation’s first large-scale reprocessing plant at the Rokkasho complex in northern Japan is expected to finish in the first half of the next fiscal year.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-28/japan-releases-map-of-areas-suitable-for-nuclear-waste-disposal

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METI maps out suitable nuclear waste disposal sites

The government on Friday unveiled a nationwide map of potential disposal sites for high-level nuclear waste that identifies coastal areas as “favorable” and those near active faults as unsuitable.

Based on the map, the government is expected to ask the municipalities involved to let researchers study whether sites on their land can host atomic waste disposal sites.

But the process promises to be both difficult and complicated as public concern lingers over the safety of nuclear power since the triple core meltdown in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011.

The map, illustrated in four colors indicating the suitability of geological conditions, was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Energy minister Hiroshige Seko said earlier Friday that the unveiling of the map is an “important step toward bringing about final disposal sites, but also the first step on a long road.”

We hope to communicate (with municipalities) nationwide and win over the public,” he said.

The map is not something with which we will seek municipalities’ decisions on whether to accept a disposal site,” Seko said.

To permanently dispose of high-level nuclear waste, it must be stored at a repository more than 300 meters underground so it cannot harm human life or the environment.

The map identifies about 70 percent of Japan as suitable for hosting nuclear dumps. Up to 900 municipalities, or half of the nation’s total, encompass coastal areas deemed favorable for permanent waste storage.

Areas near active faults, volcanoes and oil fields, which are potential drilling sites, are deemed unsuitable because of “presumed unfavorable characteristics,” and hence colored in orange and silver on the map.

The other areas are classified as possessing “relatively high potential” and colored in light green.

Among the potential areas, zones that are within 20 km (12 miles) of the coastline are deemed especially favorable in terms of waste transportation and colored in green. The ministry formulated the classification standards in April.

Parts of giant Fukushima Prefecture, where decontamination and recovery efforts remain underway from the mega-quake, tsunami and triple core meltdown of March 2011, are also suitable, according to the map. But Seko said the government has no plans at this stage to impose an additional burden on the prefecture.

Seko also signaled that Aomori Prefecture, which hosts a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, is exempt from the hunt because the prefectural government and the state have agreed not to build a nuclear waste disposal facility there.

Japan, like many other countries with nuclear power plants, is struggling to find a permanent geological site suitable for hosting a disposal repository. Finland and Sweden are the only countries worldwide to have picked final disposal sites.

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Japan map showing potential nuclear waste disposal sites to be released

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Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko on July 18 announced the forthcoming release of a map showing the most appropriate areas in Japan to bury high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.
 
Speaking to reporters following a Cabinet meeting on July 18, Seko said the “scientific property map” would be released as early as this month.
 
“Providing the map is the first step in the long path toward achieving final disposal,” Seko said. He added that an informal decision had been made to hold explanatory meetings across Japan after the release of the map.
 
The map will divide Japan into four colors designating the suitability of various areas for permanently storing highly radioactive waste.
 
Areas that are within 15 kilometers of a volcano, that are near an active fault, or that are bountiful in mineral resources, will be “presumed to have undesirable properties” and be excluded from the list of possible sites.
 

Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites this summer

n-nukewaste-a-20170503-870x564.jpgSolidified nuclear waste mixed with glass is placed in canisters at a reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in 2012

The government has set the criteria for a map meant to identify potential final disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, paving the way for its release as early as this summer.

The process of finding a host for nuclear waste could face challenges amid public concerns over safety.

Based on the map, the government will approach select municipalities to allow research to be conducted for suitable sites to store waste from nuclear power generation.

For permanent disposal, high-level nuclear waste needs to be stored at a final depository more than 300 meters underground for up to about 100,000 years until radiation levels fall and there is no longer potential harm to humans and the environment.

The government plans to create a permanent underground repository somewhere in stable bedrock so the canisters can be stored for tens of thousands of years.

The map is likely to classify which areas are geologically suitable for such a structure to be built deep enough underground. This would rule out areas near active faults and volcanoes as well as oil and coal fields.

Based on waste transport criteria, the map is likely to show that zones within 20 km of the coastline are favorable to host final disposal sites.

The government hopes other municipalities — not just the ones located near nuclear power plants — may also become interested in hosting the disposal facilities. It also wants to show that a variety of places nationwide are suitable for nuclear waste management.

The map was originally planned for a 2016 release but the publication date was later postponed, as some local governments were wary that disposal sites would be imposed on them.

About 18,000 tons of spent fuel currently exist in Japan. Including spent fuel that has already been reprocessed, the country’s total jumps to about 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, all of which needs to be managed.

The process to find local governments willing to host final storage started in 2002, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In May 2015, the central government introduced a plan announcing that final depository site selection would be based on scientific grounds, rather than waiting for municipalities to volunteer.

Before presenting the map, the government will hold symposiums between mid-May and June at nine cities to explain the map criteria to the public. The cities include Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

Radioactive waste is classified into two categories: The high-level type is generated from reprocessing spent fuel by separating the plutonium and uranium for recycling, while the low level type refers to all other waste.

High-level waste is a byproduct of fission in the reactor core, which is very hot and dangerous. It is mixed with glass and solidified before being placed in robust heat-resistant stainless steel canisters that are 130 cm high, 40 cm in diameter and weigh 500 kg each.

A full canister emits about 1,500 sieverts per hour — an extremely lethal biological level — and has a surface temperature in excess of 200 degrees.

Its radioactivity starts at 20,000 trillion becquerels. It will take about 1,000 years to fall to one-thousandth of that level, and tens of thousands of years to weaken to the same intensity as natural uranium ore, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency says.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to successfully decide on a final depository site for nuclear waste, while many other countries with nuclear plants face difficulties in doing so.

The United States decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a site to dispose spent fuel in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition, but President Donald Trump earmarked funds to revive the plan in the budget proposal for fiscal 2018 unveiled in March.

In Japan, the selection process is also a touchy issue and has triggered conflicts in the communities around which prospective depository sites have been considered.

In one example, Minamiosumi Mayor Toshihiko Morita in Kagoshima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against a 65-year-old resident for libel, claiming that his allegations that the rural town office had been actively inviting such a facility was not only groundless but also defamation.

The resident handed out flyers to about 500 households in the town in January which said Morita went to Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Horonobe in Hokkaido at the invitation of the private sector involved in the construction of nuclear waste disposal facilities. Both municipalities host nuclear-related facilities.

Morita flatly denied the allegations, telling Kyodo News in writing that he has heard “rumors” that there have been moves aimed at hosting a nuclear waste disposal facility but “I myself haven’t gone anywhere and been treated to anything.”

I would reject any request from the central government” to host one, Morita said. The town approved an ordinance to reject a plan to host a nuclear waste disposal facility the year after the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

A supporter of the mayor, however, did visit nuclear-related facilities in locations including Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, several years ago, according to the supporter’s admission, and a Tokyo company covered the expenses of the trip.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/02/national/government-release-map-potential-final-nuclear-disposal-sites-summer/