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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tsukiji panel slammed during final meeting


Staff writer

An advisory panel to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government submitted a report Saturday calling on it to take steps against pollution at Toyosu, the new destination for Tokyo's famed Tsukiji fish market.

The proposed countermeasures include removing the current surface soil to a depth of 2 meters and replacing it with fresh soil, which would then be topped with an additional 2 1/2 meters of dirt.

The four-member panel also proposed building a bulkhead against toxic underground water beneath the fish-trading compound.

But the voices against relocation could be heard loud and clear during the panel's ninth and last meeting, as 204 citizens participated as observers. Many pointed out that the proposed site in Koto Ward needs to be examined more thoroughly and that the proposed plans would come up short.

"This is a pie-in-the-sky plan. I think it's pretty obvious to everyone,"said Kazuki Kosaka, a Chuo Ward lawmaker who attended the meeting. Kosaka said the report doesn't include an estimated budget for the clean-up plan. Kosaka belongs to group that is opposing Tsukiji's relocation.

The chairman of the panel, Tatemasa Hirata, who is a professor of system engineering at Wakayama University, said the panel's job was to come up with countermeasures for the contaminated site and make reports to the metro government, which will discuss a budget for the project.

Hirata emphasized that it was important to take the countermeasures to secure food safety, which has become a major issue nationwide. He also admitted that the proposed clean-up plan would be unprecedented in scale.

Research conducted at Toyosu from February to April found excessive benzene, a cancer-causing agent, present at up to 43,000 times the legally acceptable level. In addition, tests on groundwater taken from part of the site revealed the presence of benzene at 10,000 times the safety limit and cyanogen at 130 times the acceptable level.

Tokyo is planning to move the market to Toyosu by 2013.

"We can't have a market at such a contaminated site," Kosaka told reporters after the meeting.

"If we let it happen, Japan will be a ground-pollution backward country," he said.



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