Land secured in Fukushima opens door for 1st shipment of radioactive waste


Preparatory work to build an interim storage site for radioactive waste is under way at the Okuma east industrial park (front) in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 3. The crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant stands in the background. 
February 04, 2015
The government has begun prep work on a parcel of land near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to receive its first delivery of radioactive debris from decontamination work in the area.
The Environment Ministry began the work for the interim storage site on Feb. 3, following its announcement last month that it had secured 60,000 square meters of land in industrial parks in the towns of Okuma and Futaba as a first step.
The move comes as companies owning large lots of land in the industrial parks are ready to sell their plots for the storage project.
While the plots owned by the companies account for just 2 percent of the total land needed to build storage site in Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the plant, the move will allow the government to begin shipping tainted debris by its target of March 11, the fourth anniversary of the nuclear disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
The ministry plans to transfer 43,000 cubic meters of radioactive soil and other debris stored at 43 localities in the prefecture over a year on a trial basis.
The secured plots take up about 70 percent of the Futaba industrial park and Okuma east industrial park’s combined 440,000 square meters of land.
The Asahi Shimbun found that eight of the 13 companies that own property in the parks are willing to sell their land to the government and have already notified the appropriate officials of their decision.
Most of the companies are in the pharmaceutical and machinery industries and based in Tokyo.
“We doubt products we make here will sell anyway, even if we can someday resume operations,” said an official with a company that owns a factory in the Okuma park, referring to its decision to sell off the land. “We are afraid that (radiation-related) fears about products and produce from this area will linger.”
An official with a company in the Futaba park that also agreed to sell its land said: “We set up the factory about 20 years ago and hired many residents. We are more than happy to offer our land to help rebuild the local area.”
Residents of the two towns, where radiation levels remain high, continue to live outside the area after it was evacuated following the outbreak nuclear crisis.
Plots in the industrial parks were among the ministry’s first targets for the interim storage site. It is expected to be easier to start building the site on these plots because they house fewer buildings compared with other land.
Still, the ministry expects a prolonged battle to secure the 16 square kilometers needed for the storage site. “It will take a very long time,” said a senior ministry official.
The storage facility to be built in the towns will be designed to hold radioactive waste for up to 30 years.
Source: Asahi Shimbun
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201502040078
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