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Friday, Sep. 30, 2011

Eight prefectures eyed for radioactive dumps

Tokyo included in temporary soil storage sites


Staff writer

The Environment Ministry has revealed a controversial plan to build temporary storage facilities for soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in eight prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions.

The eight are Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Tokyo, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Gunma, Vice Environment Minister Hideki Minamikawa told reporters Wednesday after visiting Fukushima Prefecture for talks with local leaders.

The volume of contaminated soil and waste, estimated at 28.79 million cu. meters, is enough to fill the Tokyo Dome 23 times over, according to a recent ministry survey.

No details were released on when, or specifically where, the facilities will be built, or how much contaminated soil they will store.

"In order to proceed with the decontamination promptly, we want to decide locations to set up temporary storage facilities immediately," Minamikawa told reporters in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. "We need to discuss things with not only the Fukushima government but also other local governments."

The ministry will hold talks with the eight prefectural governments to explain the plan.

In late August, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced plans to build a facility in Fukushima, which was strongly opposed by local politicians. On Sept. 8, his successor, Yoshihiko Noda, said in Fukushima that the government will continue talks with the local government on the issue.

Anticipating opposition in the prefectures named by the ministry, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura emphasized Thursday that nothing concrete has been decided.

"The Environment Ministry will continue discussing this issue," Fujimura said at a news conference Thursday morning.

The contaminated soil is currently stored in makeshift yards at several locations. It will have to be shipped to the temporary facilities once the central government decides on their locations.

A permanent disposal site will be built outside Fukushima, according to the government.



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