Where to put all the radioactive waste is now the burning issue

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The call might have been made to decommission five over-the-hill nuclear reactors, but the problem remains of where to dispose of their total 26,820 tons of radioactive waste.

The plant operators have yet to find disposal sites, and few local governments are expected to volunteer to store the waste on their properties.

The decommissioning plans for the five reactors that first went into service more than 40 years ago was green-lighted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority on April 19.

It is the first NRA approval for decommissioning since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami.

That disaster led to a new regulation putting a 40-year cap, in principle, on the operating life span of reactors.

The reactors to be decommissioned are the No. 1 reactor at Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture; the No. 1 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture; the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture; and the No. 1 reactor at Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane plant in Shimane Prefecture.

The decommissioning will be completed between fiscal 2039 and fiscal 2045 at a total cost of 178.9 billion yen ($1.64 billion), according to the utilities.

In the process, the projects are expected to produce 26,820 tons of radioactive waste–reactors and pipes included.

An additional 40,300 tons of waste, such as scrap construction material, will be handled as nonradioactive waste due to radiation doses deemed lower than the government safety limit.

Securing disposal sites for radioactive waste has proved a big headache for utilities.

About 110 tons of relatively high-level in potency radioactive waste, including control rods, are projected to pile up from the decommissioning of the No. 1 reactor at the Mihama plant.

Such waste needs to be buried underground deeper than 70 meters from the surface and managed for 100,000 years, according to the NRA’s guidelines.

In addition, the decommissioning of the same reactor will generate 2,230 tons of less toxic waste as well, including pipes and steam generators.

Under the current setup, utilities must secure disposal sites on their own.

Kansai Electric, the operator of the Mihama plant, has pledged to find a disposal site “by the time the decommissioning is completed.”

But Fukui Prefecture, which hosts that plant and others, is demanding the waste from the Mihama facility be disposed of outside its borders.

The project to dismantle the reactor and other facilities has been postponed at Japan Atomic Power’s Tokai plant in Ibaraki Prefecture because the company could not find a disposal site for the relatively high-level waste.

The decommissioning of the reactor had been under way there since before the Fukushima disaster.

The expected difficulty of securing disposal sites could jeopardize the decommissioning timetable, experts say.

Even finding a disposal site for waste that will be handled as nonradioactive has made little headway.

What is more daunting is the hunt for a place to store high-level radioactive waste that will be generated during the reprocessing of spent fuel, they said.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704200039.html

Designation of radioactive waste lifted

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Japan’s environment ministry has lifted the radioactive designation it applied to a batch of waste after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

About 200 kilograms of waste stored at a private facility in Yamagata Prefecture can now be disposed of as general waste.

People familiar with the matter say the radioactivity level of the waste was confirmed to be lower than the government-set level of 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

The ministry said it sent a letter, dated January 13th, to notify the facility of its decision to lift the designation.

It is the first time the ministry has lifted the designation for waste kept by a private company in connection with the nuclear accident.
Last July, the ministry lifted the designation of radioactive waste stored in the city of Chiba, just outside Tokyo. It was the first case among municipalities storing radioactive waste from the Fukushima accident’s fallout.

Ministry officials say as of September 30th last year, there was about 179,000 tons of waste designated as radioactive across the country.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170117_13/

 

Environment Ministry to consolidate management of radioactive waste from Fukushima disaster

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The government plans to set up a new bureau in the Environment Ministry to unify the handling of radioactive waste generated by the 2011 Fukushima disaster, informed sources said.

The bureau, which will also take on recycling management, will have around 200 staff and be created through a ministry reorganization in fiscal 2017 starting in April that will change the size of its workforce.

The reorganization will also abolish the Environmental Policy Bureau.

The government hopes the move will improve cooperation with municipalities damaged by the triple meltdown triggered at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Thus far, measures to deal with radioactive waste, including decontamination, have been handled by three sections — the Waste Management and Recycling Department, the Environmental Management Bureau and the Director-General for Decontamination Technology of Radioactive Materials.

The ruling parties’ task forces on accelerating reconstruction from March 2011 are requesting the integration move in response to complaints from the affected municipalities.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/18/national/environment-ministry-consolidate-management-radioactive-waste-fukushima-disastere/#.WFZ3llzia-d

Opponents of nuclear waste site hold symposium to counter gov’t forum on same day

Residents attend a symposium on opposition to a plan to build a radioactive waste site in Shioya, Tochigi Prefecture, on May 14, 2015. (Mainichi)
UTSUNOMIYA — While the Environment Ministry held a forum here on the night of May 14 on building disposal sites for radioactive waste and other debris caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, opponents of one candidate site held a large-scale symposium in Shioya.
The ministry held the forum in the prefectural capital in connection with plans to build disposal sites in Tochigi and four other prefectures. Meanwhile, the opponents held the symposium in Shioya, about 22 kilometers away from Utsunomiya, under the theme of local natural riches.
About 180 people attended the Environment Ministry’s forum, the second in a series that began in April in Sendai. Officials in charge of designated radioactive waste briefed the participants on the disposal scheme and sought their understanding for constructing a disposal site in the prefecture. Some of the participants made remarks such as, “If it’s so safe, build it in Tokyo,” and, “We can’t trust the central government because it covers up bad data.”
The Environment Ministry told the Mainichi Shimbun that it held the forum — designed to win understanding from Tochigi prefectural residents — in Utsunomiya rather than Shioya because transportation in the prefectural capital was more convenient, allowing more people to attend.
The symposium in Shioya, organized by a coalition of groups opposed to the proposed disposal site, drew about 1,100 people. Its venue, a high school gym, was packed with local residents and about 200 people watched the event on an outdoor screen. The participants confirmed their resolve to protect the local environment. A 72-year-old man said, “The Environment Ministry’s forum is an event only for convenient explanations. If we participate, we will be counted as supporters.”

Source: Mainichi
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150515p2a00m0na006000c.html

Fukushima: Japan has chosen to incinerate tons of radioactive waste

Catastrophe nucleaire de Fukushima, pres de 4 ans apres, travaux de decontamination a l'interieur de la zone contamineeThree and a half years after the tragedy, most of plants and materials will be burned and the ashes stored.

By Marc Cherki Published 11/09/2014
Translation by D’un Renard

In Kawauchi, a small village located on both sides of of 20 kilometers division line around the Fukushima plant, many one cubic meter bags, are filled by the decontaminators with radioactive vegetal waste. Plants, grasses, lichens, shrubs that lined the road are now piled into these big bags.

Thus, the radiation received by persons traveling on this path is reduced. The plants are also removed within 20 meters around houses.

With Date and Minamisoma, Kawauchi is one of the “model villages” exemplified by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and the Japanese government.

The committed efforts are huge . In less than a year, since the nuclear accident in March 2011, projects funded by the government were already valued at 10 billion euros only for the decontamination of soils, houses and a microscopic part of the forests.

At present, the kariokiba, the temporary storage sites, are overfull of waste.
About 43 million cubic meters (43 million tons), as plastic bags of blue, black or gray colors depending on the choice of the town, are piling into a thousand temporary sites.

The bags are half filled with plants.
The others contain the contaminated soil removed from the surface of rice fields and schoolyards, materials polluted by radioactive fallout cloud or dust collected in houses gutters,

The Japanese government has pledged to deal with the waste from 1 January 2015. But nobody believes this possible in such a short time. “We’re late,” admits Mr Ozawa, deputy director general of the department of environmental restoration in Fukushima, under the Ministry of the Environment.
As early as our first work, which started in the summer of 2012 and mobilized 17,000 people, “local authorities told us that we were too slow,” he admits.
But it is “like playing chess without having the rules. So we had to make the pieces and invent the rules. ”

At the Otsube storage site in Kawauchi, Youichi Igari, 40, who works for decontamination, admits that the government should not be able to recover the waste in the time promised.
This thorny issue of waste is closely related to the return of populations. Currently, 130,000 people are still displaced, according to the Government, out of which 50,000 out of the Fukushima Prefecture. The family of Youichi Igari family is one of those who left the town of Kawauchi. “My wife is afraid to come back,” admits the technician.

Compared to our own surveys made with a Geiger counter, the measuring of the radioactivity carried by the city is minimized by a third.
A difference that their expert justified by “the margin of error of measurement” … More serious over the bags covered with a green tarp, plants began to grow. Sign that the sealing is no longer guaranteed.
And if in the kariokiba visited in Date the black bags seem tight, the official measurements of radioaction that people can find on the Internet are lower than our measurements.

Divide by ten the number of bags could improve decontamination and encourage the return of the nuclear exiles.
The Japanese government is planning to burn and store its waste on two sites in Futaba and Okuma for those highly radioactive and in Tomiaka for those weakly radioactive (8,000 Bq / kg). Three towns near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The most active ash (100,000 Bq / kg) will be trapped in concrete and stored in an intermediate site for thirty years. Then to be moved after to a final repository to be stored there for more than two centuries and a half.

For already one year the Japanese government has informed the IAEA of its intentions.
“It’s good management, rather than letting the plants rot and release biogas. Burning waste is a method that we already use in France to reduce volumes.
For some of the waste, the operation in France is performed at the Centraco plant near Marcoule, a subsidiary of Socodei, which packages the ash into concrete, “says Bruno Cahen, the Andra industrial director.

This is particularly the case of technical waste containing cesium-137 which radioaction is halved every thirty years. “It is not possible to recover 100% of the fumes.
But technology can improve the collection of emissions to limit emissions into the atmosphere, “says Didier Dall’Ava, deputy director of sanitation and nuclear decommissioning at CEA.
Finally, in the case of the Japanese waste “the safety of the ashes with concrete must be confirmed from a chemical and mechanical point of view,” adds François Besnus, director of waste at the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety.

Still, the scale of the Japanese project is extraordinary, outside the norm.
The Marcoule site has the capacity to incinerate 3,000 tons of solid waste per year, it is quite low compared to 22 million tons of radioactive waste that the Japanese government wants to eliminate. Even if Japan opts for the best technique (rejection of one radionuclide in 100,000 to 1 million, according to Areva) this operation will lead to significant emissions into the atmosphere. As to incinerate waste will not remove the radioaction . Reconquérir le territoire reste une tâche titanesque. To reconquer that territory from radiation will remain a gigantic task.

Source : Blog de Serge Angeles

Japon 2014 – Fukushima/324

Government having trouble locating landowners of planned radioactive waste site

AJ201410150057MEnvironment Ministry holds a briefing session on the planned nuclear waste storage facility for landowners in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sept. 29.

October 15, 2014

The Environment Ministry has completed briefings for landowners of a site to store radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but attendance at the meetings was less than half the landholders.

A total of 901 property owners of the construction site, located in the towns of Okuma and Futaba near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, attended the 12 meetings hosted by the ministry. Those that participated are believed to account for less than half of the total number who hold land titles to the site.

Ministry officials said many of the landowners evacuated as the March 2011 nuclear disaster unfurled and have yet to be found or contacted, which is just one of the obstacles the government’s purchasing plan has to overcome.

The site also includes land whose ownership remains unclear due to the death of the previous owners.

Dozens of workers at the ministry’s Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration have tried to locate all current landholders. The office has managed to only send briefing-session invitations to 1,269 people among owners of 2,365 land plots.

While ministry officials said they will continue trying to locate all of the current property owners, they also said they will consider seeking to have family courts appoint interim administrators for the properties.

Many of those who did attend the briefing sessions also reportedly voiced their dissatisfaction with the government’s plan to buy up the land. A woman in her 60s from Okuma, who took part in a meeting in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, said she felt the amount of compensation offered by the government was “too little,” given the fact that many people from the two towns have been forced to live as refugees.

During a news conference on Oct. 14, Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki said the ministry will create a system to dispatch officials when land owners come forward with questions.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410150056

Contracts for interim radioactive waste storage sites in Fukushima due to expire

001Radioactive soil and other materials are seen in this file photo taken in the town of Naraha,

Fukushima Prefecture, on July 10, 2013.

October 13, 2014

FUKUSHIMA — Property leases for many interim radioactive waste storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture are set to expire staring this month, a Mainichi Shimbun survey of local municipalities has found.

A total of 46 out of 47 municipalities in the prefecture subject to Fukushima nuclear disaster decontamination work responded to the Mainichi survey request, sent out in August this year. According to the results, as of the end of July, there were 859 temporary storage sites in 40 of the municipalities, holding some 3,194,688 cubic meters of radioactive soil and other contaminated waste from the disaster cleanup.

A government plan drawn up in October 2011 stated these sites would be closed in roughly three years. Accordingly, the central and local governments leased properties for many of the facilities for a three-year term. The leases for lands hosting 105 facilities storing 178,192 cubic meters of waste will reach their third year by the end of January 2015 — shrinking storage capacity even as the volume of waste increases as decontamination work continues.

While the Fukushima governor in September agreed that the towns of Okuma and Futaba would host mid-term contaminated waste disposal sites, a timetable for moving the waste from the current temporary facilities to mid-term storage sites has not been set. The Environment Ministry has begun requesting land owners of 64 temporary facilities that are being managed directly by the national government to extend their contracts.

The town of Kawamata, whose nine interim storage sites will reach the three-year mark by January 2015, is set to demand that the national government remove the waste within the agreed time period. Meanwhile, the Kawauchi municipal government has asked the central government to take responsibility for any storage site lease extensions and explain the situation to residents.

Source: Mainichi

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141013p2a00m0na005000c.html