The Mainichi Daily News promoted again today their friend’s, M. Hosono, plans about how to deal with the radioactive waste. It seems that M. Hosono upturned his original plan of spreading it to the whole of Japan since the technology is not available. In my opinion, there is not a remote chance that it will ever be, so we should be so lucky if M. Hosono sticks to his revised plan of not transferring radioactive waste by means of low technology. This cannot be a certainty, as in the Tokaimura plant, some workers have been fatal victims of handling nuclear power plant waste in mere buckets, thus achieving critical mass. Again, this kind of practice should come to no surprise to anyone who read Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Workers, Exposed to Radiation, Hidden from Sight on SurvivalJapan. What is amazing is that such incidents are not more frequently reported. There is still a high possibility that M. Hosono’s reassuring speech hides an already on-going radioactive transportation by simple open-roof construction trucks.

Current official temporary storage involves digging a 3 meter deep pool in the soil, covering it with lining sheets as one would do in preparation of a plantation or a swimming pool, and then topping it with more soil – what is known as sweeping under the rug practice. The positive side of it is that it will not contaminate any new ground and the area should be declared a no man’s land anyway. M. Hosono seems to imply that any new nuclear power plant will not be built (at least in the short term) and his comments could be construed as a lenghtening of the lifespan of current ones. Nuclear plants in Japan are old and shoddily maintained so this is not a reassuring perspective: they should be stopped for good. New Prime Minister, M. Noda, is supposedly high in polls according to the state-controlled media, yet in my opinion, M. Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, managed to lose credibility from day one in office.

Wikipedia article about Tokaimura Nuclear Accident  (Tokai is located in the no man’s land).

The Mainichi article / friendly discussion with M. Hosono is reproduced hereafter :

Nuclear troubleshooter Hosono cites need for temporary storage facility at Fukushima

New Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who was retained as nuclear disaster minister under a new Cabinet launched Sept. 2, said in a recent interview that major problems facing the Environment Ministry include decontamination efforts, radioactive waste and the creation of a nuclear power safety agency.

“On the other hand, there are wide-ranging issues such as environmental pollution, steps to address global warming and biodiversity,” he said on Sept. 4. “These issues are important for the international community and I want to tackle them in cooperation” with top deputies.

“What I want to do the most is to decontaminate” radiation-tainted areas around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, Hosono stressed. Such contaminated soil and debris have to be temporarily kept in cities, towns and villages involved, according to Hosono.

“But in reality, temporarily keeping the soil and debris there is very difficult, so we have no choice but to ask Fukushima Prefecture to set up a temporary storage facility within the prefecture to safely store the waste,” he said.

Hosono said the government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will not unilaterally make a decision on the issue but will reach a decision on what kind of facility and when and where such a temporary facility will be built in consultation with local governments concerned.

He also stressed the need to develop technology to reduce radioactive waste and to move it out of Fukushima Prefecture. There is a large amount of heavily contaminated rubble at the nuclear power plant and some of the rubble probably needs to be dealt with on site, he added.

The minister acknowledged that some evacuees cannot return home for extended periods of time due to the presence of high-level radioactive materials in their communities.

Workers spread lining sheets in a huge trench dug to bury radiation-contaminated topsoil collected from the ground of Yasawa Elementary School and Kindergarten in Minami-Soma, about 20 kilometers away from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility, in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

In the picture above : Workers spread lining sheets in a huge trench dug to bury radiation-contaminated topsoil collected from the ground of Yasawa Elementary School and Kindergarten in Minami-Soma, about 20 kilometers away from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility, in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

“It is an extremely urgent task to decide how to manage houses and schools in cities, towns and villages,” he said, adding that the government wants to consult with these local governments individually and respond to their needs to the best of its ability.

Hosono, who has been dealing with the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, said the new government will spend some time to discuss decommissioning the stricken plant.

“Setting an age limit on the life of a nuclear power plant is not necessary a scientific practice,” he said, adding it is desirable to draw a line somewhere in the course of stress tests or by other means. He said the government should not prolong the operational span of nuclear power plants simply by weighing the financial conditions of respective electric companies.

Hosono said Japan hopes to keep its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. But specific measures to achieve the target have to be reconsidered, he said, adding building nine new nuclear reactors as part of the Japanese anti-global warming campaign is no longer realistic.

Click here for the original Japanese story

(Mainichi Japan) September 5, 2011

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