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Fukushima Report: Japan's Energy Proposals Remain Obscure After Nuclear Disaster

First Posted: Mar 17, 2017 02:18 AM EDT
The scarred and radiation contaminated landscape, inside the exclusion zone, close to the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on February 26, 2016 in Namie, Fukushima, Japan. The area is now closed to residents due radiation contamination fro

Photo : Getty Images/Christopher Furlong/

Fukushima nuclear disaster has passed more than six years but still, Japan is dealing with its impacts. The damage of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant poses unprecedented technical challenges to Japan.

Around 100,000 people were evacuated but only about 13 percent have returned home. Although the government has announced that Fukushima is safe to return to some evacuation zones.

According to Scientific American, The Japanese public has lost faith in nuclear safety regulation, and a majority favors phasing out nuclear power. However, Japan's energy policy assumes nuclear power will play a role. Japan needs to find a new way of making decisions about Fukushima its energy future.

However, after the Fukushima disaster the government has estimated the total costs from the nuclear accident at about US $188 billion that is approximately twice as high as its previous estimate. The government is developing a plan under which consumers and citizens will bear some of those costs through higher electrical rates, taxes or both.

The Japan Times has reported that at the time of 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japan had 54 operating nuclear reactors which produced about one-third of its electric supply. After the heavy earthquake and tsunami, Japanese utilities have shut down Fukushima and other 50 intact reactors one by one.

The government has released its first post-Fukushima strategic energy plan, which called for keeping some nuclear power plants as base load power sources. The Ministry of Trade and Industry has published a long-term plan in 2015 which suggested that nuclear power should produce 20 to 22 percent of Japan's electricity by 2030.

The news report has suggested that Japan also has nearly 48 tons of separated plutonium. Though many countries have expressed concerns about Japan's plan to store Plutonium and use it in nuclear fuel. China has worried that Japan could use the material for Fukushima plants to quickly produce nuclear weapons.

However, Japanese nuclear operator and governments also must find safe and secure ways to manage growing stockpiles of irradiated nuclear fuel for Fukushima and others nuclear plants. Beside this Japan should consider fundamental shifts in nuclear energy policy to recover public trust.

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