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District mayors in central Japan advocate Fukui interim nuclear fuel storage facility

A copy of the "letter of opinion on dry storage of spent nuclear fuel" prepared by the district mayors' association of the Nishiura district in the city of Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, is seen in this image taken in Osaka's Kita Ward on April 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

TSURUGA, Fukui -- The district mayors' association of the Nishiura district in the city of Tsuruga, located on Fukui Prefecture's Tsuruga Peninsula, has drafted a plan offering to host an interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel and submitted it to the city government, concerned parties have revealed.

    Behind the moves are Kansai Electric Power Co.'s (KEPCO) difficulties securing a place for storing spent nuclear fuel. The Fukui Prefectural Government is demanding it be taken out of the central Japan prefecture, and although it is currently unlikely district mayors' proposal will be realized, some see it as a potential new source of income for an area once called the "nuclear Ginza" for its concentration of nuclear plants, which are now being decommissioned one after another.

    The Mainichi Shimbun obtained a copy of the "opinion letter" by the district mayors' association that calls for the bid to build the facility. The letter reads, "We are convinced that, as an area that has coexisted with nuclear power plants for half a century, it is our responsibility to do so."

    According to the association, the letter was submitted by mail to the prefectural and municipal governments in 2020 with the support of nine of the district's 10 areas. A city government statement said, "We firmly accept this as a local opinion." A prefectural government representative said they were not aware of the letter, but added, "We would not change our position demanding the waste's removal from the prefecture."

    KEPCO said, "We will do our best to create an interim storage facility outside the prefecture."

    (Japanese original by Hidetoshi Oshima, Tsuruga Resident Bureau, and Riki Iwama, Fukui Bureau)

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