US top nuke regulator urges final waste storage effort as Japan finalizes new energy policy

TOKYO – The top U.S. nuclear regulator says nuclear energy users, including Japan, must figure out how to ultimately store radioactive waste.

Allison Macfarlane, head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Friday in Tokyo that an underground repository is needed but finding one is a challenge. She urged countries that are only just introducing nuclear energy to have back-end plans at an early stage.

Japan has no final waste repository.

Her comment comes as Japan finalizes its new energy policy that reverses a phase-out plan set by the previous government after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The new policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear government is also expected to stick to Japan’s shaky fuel cycle program despite international concerns about Japan’s massive plutonium stockpile.