Spent-Fuel Storage Facility Developments
Tokyo Electric Power Company is planning the construction of a spent fuel interim storage facility (SFISF) in Mutsu City, Aomori Prefecture. On 18th February 2004 it officially approached Aomori Prefecture and Mutsu City to request their cooperation. Mutsu City, which has been trying to attract the facility all along, welcomed the request, but Aomori Prefecture so far has taken a cautious attitude. A big concern for the Prefecture is the fact that there is no foreseeable plan to remove the fuel once it has been placed in storage.
On 14th November 2003, the Chamber of Commerce in Obama City, Fukui Prefecture submitted a proposal to the Chairperson of the City Council to invite a SFISF to their town. Since then a number of petitions, both for and against the proposal, have been presented to the Mayor and to the Council Chairperson and on 18th December a petition was submitted to the City Council demanding that it pass a resolution to invite the facility. Although the petition was adopted on 24th March 2004, the Mayor remains cautious. Meanwhile, both Fukui Prefecture and Kansai Electric Power Company have expressed their view that "the facility should be built outside Fukui Prefecture."
On 3rd March 2003 the Chairperson of the Gobo City Council in Wakayama Prefecture proposed an investigation into the possibility of inviting a SFISF. This move was aimed at seeking a source of revenue to replace revenue from the construction of a thermal power plant. This was because KEPCO's thermal power plant plan looked like falling through. However, there was strong opposition and a draft plan to set up a study meeting was never presented to the city council. A year later, on 19th March 2004, three Council Members introduced a motion for the establishment of a "special investigative committee on administrative and financial problems." The motion was passed and although one of the Council Members who had presented the proposal stated that he "did not have a nuclear fuel facility in mind", the headline in the local paper read, "nuclear fuel facility the biggest theme for investigation."
In 2004 there have also been moves to invite a SFISF to Nango Town, Miyazaki Prefecture. The 11th March meeting of the Full Council approved the Mayor's proposal to ask Kyushu Electric Power Company to conduct a site feasibility study and on the 26th a timeline for officially submitting a request to Kyushu Electric was arranged. Responding to media reports about the matter, the local people and residents of neighboring municipalities immediately launched a campaign in opposition to the proposal and on 15th March the Town Council decided to suspend the plan. However, the Mayor has not given up on the idea.
In each case the interest shown by municipalities is not interest in what the storage facility actually is. The only thing they are interested in is how much money it will bring in. That's an indication of how pressed local municipalities are by the cutbacks in government grants and subsidies.