Mayor outraged by radioactive waste storage request

08/29/2011
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FUKUSHIMA (majirox news) The mayor of Okuma, the Fukushima prefecture town where the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor is located, vehemently opposed Aug. 28 the national government’s proposal to build what it says is a temporary storage facility for contaminated materials in the municipality.

“We absolutely cannot accept this facility,” Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe told State Minister in Charge of the Nuclear Crisis Goshi Hosono during a meeting on Sunday.

Watanabe asked Hosono to make decontamination of the area and support for residents’ lifestyles the national government’s top priorities, but Hosono stressed that without a storage facility for waste there was no other way for the national government to move forward.

Hosono met with Watanabe on Sunday to discuss setting up a temporary storage facility for waste materials contaminated with high level radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Hosono told Watanabe the national government has yet to decide on the exact site it prefers, but the Okuma mayor expressed his opposition to the municipality being used.

Hosono later told reporters, “We’re in a situation where we must get over the problem of finding a temporary storage site before we can go ahead with decontamination.”

He added: “There is absolutely no way the government will act in a forceful manner without the understanding of local municipalities and residents.”
Watanabe told the media that he foresaw little popular understanding for Tokyo’s proposal.

“Residents are not going to accept an idea that’s suddenly proposed out of the blue,” he said. “I’d like the national government to talk to us about things in the right order.”

One of the last decisions made in office by outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan was the announcement that the national government wants to build a temporary storage facility for contaminated soil and debris to be built in Fukushima prefecture as it was generated there.

Local government leaders in the prefecture have expressed displeasure at the proposal. Kan has expressed understanding toward these feelings, but said the national government has “no other choice.” Kan has said the storage facility will not be permanent, but only used until a more acceptable long-term alternative can be found.

On Saturday, Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato told Kan the proposal was “abrupt” and “baffling.”

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