Japan’s Chugoku Electric Power Company has won approval from the municipal government of Kaminoseki town in Yamaguchi Prefecture to study the possible construction of an interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel on Nagashima island. Mayor Tetsuo Nishi said: “We’ve decided to accept the firm’s proposal. The survey and the construction are separate issues.”

“Twelve years have passed since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, and the town has deteriorated rapidly,” Nishi told a town assembly meeting. “I intend to accept the survey offer.” Seven assembly members supported the plan, while three opposed it.

Chugoku Electric had planned to build two nuclear reactors in the town, but the project was suspended in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima accident. In February, the town asked Chugoku Electric to put forward a new plan geared to revitalise the town. The company submitted its proposal on 2 August.

The study will assess the feasibility of jointly constructing a facility to temporarily store used fuel in conjunction with Osaka-based Kansai Electric Power Company. Chugoku Electric and Kansai Electric intend to conduct a borehole survey near the suspended plant construction site later this year. The survey is expected to take about six months. If the envisaged facility is considered acceptable, Chugoku Electric will submit a construction plant to the municipal government.

The government provides subsidies to potential host municipalities. Kaminoseki could get up to JPY140m ($1m) a year during the survey phase, and, if the prefectural governor approves construction, a maximum of about JPY2bn over a two-year period. Subsidies would also be paid during the construction stage and after the facility begins operating.

If approved, the facility would temporarily store spent nuclear fuel in metal containers. It would be the second of its kind in Japan, following a similar complex in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture. However, the plan is opposed by some local residents.

Image: Nagashima Island, in Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture