SENDAI -- Three municipalities in Miyagi Prefecture that have been selected as candidates to host final disposal sites for radioactively contaminated materials told the Environment Ministry on Dec. 13 that they would relinquish their candidacies.
The Miyagi Prefecture towns of Kami and Taiwa as well as the city of Kurihara had been picked as candidate municipalities to host disposal sites for designated waste, which includes radioactively contaminated materials generated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Kurihara Mayor Isamu Sato and Taiwa Mayor Hajimu Asano told a meeting of Miyagi Prefecture mayors in Sendai that they were unwilling to remain candidates with no prospect for construction in sight. Kami Mayor Hirobumi Inomata demanded that disposal sites be built in Fukushima Prefecture instead, saying, "All the three candidate sites are inappropriate."
The Environment Ministry, however, is reluctant to accept the municipalities' stance.
"We selected the three municipalities after a series of mayoral meetings to decide how to pick candidate sites. Given the process we have taken, the ministry cannot accept the municipalities' decision," a ministry official commented. The ministry is seeking renewed permission from the municipalities to survey the candidate sites in detail.
The Dec. 13 mayoral meeting was held at the request of the Environment Ministry. In the fall of last year, the ministry tried to conduct land surveys at the three candidate sites, but residents of Kami staged a protest against the plan.
Kurihara and Taiwa had responded positively to the plan, on the condition that assessments be conducted simultaneously in all three municipalities.
As the snowfall season has arrived in the candidate municipalities, however, for the second straight year, the Environment Ministry will be unable to carry out land surveys.