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Fukushima okays nuke waste storages in return for almost $3bn in subsidies

Published time: August 31, 2014 17:19
Workers conduct operations to construct an underground ice wall at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (Tepco) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture July 9, 2014. (Reuters)

Workers conduct operations to construct an underground ice wall at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (Tepco) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture July 9, 2014. (Reuters)

Fukushima’s governor has officially agreed to allow the country’s authorities to store radioactive waste for 30 years in two municipalities in exchange for 300 billion yen ($2.89 billion) in subsidies.

“It’s a difficult decision, but I want to accept the construction plan,” Governor Yuhei Sato told journalists on Saturday.

Sato told The Japan Times he accepted the plan because he sees it as “necessary to advance decontamination and realize recovery of the environment.”

The mayor’s formal acceptance should be also sent to Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara and Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto on Monday, and he is also set to meet with the country’s premier Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

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On Wednesday, two Fukushima prefecture municipalities made the decision that they would accept the government’s package of subsidies, allowing to build the storages.

“We succeeded in greatly deepening (local officials’) understanding (of our storage facility plan),” Nobuteru Ishihara, environment minister, told journalists on Tuesday, as quoted by The Asahi Shimbun media outlet, following his meeting with members of the town assemblies of Futaba and Okuma.

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The central government is to pay subsidies totaling 301 billion yen ($2.89 billion) to support the locals and revive the community.

Documents containing explanations of the government assistance are set to be provided for local residents. A telephone line will also be set up to answer questions from locals.

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The contaminated waste is to be stored near the nuclear facility crippled in March 2011 by a tsunami that was triggered by a 9.0 earthquake. To make it happen, it is also necessary to carry out talks with around 2,000 landowners to buy around 16 square kilometers of their land: that land will host the nuclear waste storages. The talks on that are expected to start by the end of September.

The central and prefectural authorities have been negotiating the terms and conditions of storing waste since last December, when the environment minister introduced the idea that Fukushima should do it for up to 30 years.

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