The central government [of Japan] is compiling a generous compensation plan to overcome the reluctance of two towns to host intermediate storage facilities for radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Measures being considered for the municipalities of Okuma and Futaba include buying or renting properties at inflated real estate values and covering the costs to relocate the grave sites of relatives.
Okuma and Futaba are hosts to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The two towns and the Fukushima prefectural government have not given their consent for the intermediate storage facilities, with many residents fearing the facilities will become permanent fixtures in their backyards. The waste, expected to fill the equivalent of 23 Tokyo Domes, is currently being kept temporarily in various locations in Fukushima Prefecture where decontamination work has been conducted.
The government under then Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced in August 2011 that intermediate storage facilities would be needed to take in the waste from those locations. However, little progress has been made on constructing intermediate storage facilities, and the government says the delay has affected further decontamination efforts and overall reconstruction in Fukushima.
Large parts of Okuma and Futaba continue to have high levels of radiation, and prospects are dim that residents who fled the areas can return to their homes in the near future. The radiation levels have also pushed down real estate values in the two municipalities. Under the central government’s compensation plan, the real estate values will be calculated on the assumption that the land and buildings will one day be available for use after radiation levels have fallen far enough for the evacuation orders to be lifted. Government compensation will be separate from the compensation that local residents can receive from TEPCO.
Residents have also raised concerns that they would be unable to visit graves in Okuma and Futaba if the intermediate storage facilities are constructed there. The central government’s plan would not only cover the costs of moving the gravestones and remains away from the storage facilities, but it would also pay for memorial services that would be needed in line with the transfer. In addition, the government would provide support if the local communities decide to construct a new cemetery in a location where radiation levels are comparatively low.
For families that do not want to move the graves, the central government will consider allowing the graves to remain at their current sites. The intermediate storage facilities could be designed to avoid such grave sites, and family members would be allowed to visit the graves even after the facilities are completed.
Government sweetening the pot for storage of Fukushima radioactive waste, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, May 18, 2014