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Saturday, Oct. 30, 2004

Nuclear panel hears from Fukui residents


Staff writer

OSAKA -- Residents living near nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture expressed concern Friday over plans to recycle nuclear fuel, while supporters of the Monju fast-breeder reactor urged the central government not to abandon the project during a public hearing here.

The Atomic Energy Commission was listening to public comments as part of discussions on the next five-year nuclear power plan, which will be finalized next year.

Despite a recent report from the Federation of Electric Power Companies that found it is cheaper to bury fuel than to recycle it, little of Friday's discussion centered on the report. Instead, concern was raised about storing nuclear waste.

"Are local governments willing to allow their municipalities to be used as dumping grounds for somebody else's nuclear waste?" asked Machiko Kobayashi, an Osaka antinuclear activist. "In Fukui Prefecture, a lot of people believe that since nuclear power plants generate electricity for Osaka, any nuclear waste should be dumped there."

Others, both pro and antinuclear, said that there is much concern over the disposal of high-level radiation waste but that storage of low- and medium-level radiation waste is just as important.

"There is a tendency to think that low-level waste is not dangerous, but that is a mistake," warned Junji Ishiguro, who lives in Fukui Prefecture.

Many who were pronuclear worried that the Atomic Energy Commission would not emphasize the importance of the Monju power plant, closed since 1995 following a sodium leak accident.

The plant, which is designed to produce more plutonium than it consumes, was touted by several Monju employees present Friday as being the only way Japan can secure energy independence.



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The Japan Times

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