Two Hokkaido municipalities named candidates for next nuclear waste site survey

Two municipalities in northern Japan have been named as candidates for the second stage of a government process to select a final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, on Tuesday released a draft report on the so-called literature survey, which is the first part of its three-stage investigation.

Suttsu Town and Kamoenai Village, both in Hokkaido, took part in the survey, which started in November 2020.

The draft report says all areas of Suttsu and the southern part of Kamoenai, except for a 15 kilometer radius from the summit of Mount Shakotan, a volcano, are candidates for the second stage of the process, which involves boring surveys, and other studies.

A scientific map the government produced in 2017 estimates an unfavorable condition in the southern part of Suttsu due to the presence of an active fault.

But the draft report did not exclude the area from the list of candidate sites for survey, saying active faults and other conditions should be examined in detail later in the survey.

A law requires the final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear plants to be buried more than 300 meters underground.

The industry ministry plans to receive an official report after months of debate based on the draft by a panel of experts.

The focal point after the official report will be whether the mayors of the two municipalities and the governor of Hokkaido will agree on advancing to the second stage, a preliminary investigation.

Hokkaido Governor Suzuki Naomichi has made it clear that he will oppose the survey, citing a prefectural ordinance against accepting nuclear waste.