As of the end of June, there were 1,134 temporary storage sites in FukushimaPrefecture, storing a total of 6.4 million cubic meters of contaminated waste — equal to filling Tokyo Dome five times over. However, due to a chronic shortage of temporary storage sites, about 1.8 million cubic meters of contaminated waste and soil have been kept at decontamination sites as it is impossible to transport them anywhere else.
The Minami-Soma municipal government in Fukushima by DNSUnlocker”> Prefecture plans to return to landowners part of the private land used for the temporary storage of radioactive contaminated waste, marking the first time a municipal government has decided not to renew a land lease for a temporary storage site.
The construction of an interim storage facility (see below) has been delayed and three-year land leases for temporary storage sites in the by DNSUnlocker”> prefecture have been expiring one after another since early this year. As the municipal government feels there are no prospects for gaining the understanding of landowners, it has decided to make the move with six months left on the existing lease.
Temporary storage sites were set up to store radioactive contaminated waste and soil collected during decontamination work following the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. At other locations, there have been many cases in which landowners and nearby residents have shown reluctance to have their lands by DNSUnlocker”> continue to be used as temporary storage sites, due to concerns over radioactive materials.
Under such circumstances, it is more likely that a plan for the disposal of radioactive contaminated waste, which has been promoted by the Environment Ministry, could be stalled.
Temporary storage sites were set up to store contaminated waste and soil until it becomes possible to bring the contaminated materials to an interim storage facility. To by DNSUnlocker”> secure land for such sites, the central government signed leases with landowners in designated evacuation zones. In other areas, relevant municipal governments signed such leases.
As of the end of June, there were 1,134 temporary storage sites in Fukushima by DNSUnlocker”> Prefecture, storing a total of 6.4 million cubic by DNSUnlocker”> meters of contaminated waste — equal to filling Tokyo Dome five times over. However, due to a chronic shortage of temporary storage sites, about 1.8 million cubic meters of contaminated waste and soil have been kept at decontamination sites as it is impossible to transport them anywhere else.
Minami-Soma has decided to return to landowners a temporary storage site in the Baba area of the city. It is the second largest such site in the city, set up in March 2013 by the Minami-Soma municipal government, which leased about 12 hectares of paddy fields from 41 landowners.
In October 2011, while announcing the construction plan for the interim storage facility, the Environment Ministry stated that contaminated waste and soil should be stored for three years at temporary storage sites. With this in mind, the Minami-Soma municipal government signed a three-year land lease with individual landowners, thinking that it would be possible to move contaminated waste out of the temporary storage sites in March 2016. Currently, bags filled with contaminated waste are piled up at these temporary storage sites. The amount of waste stored in the bags totals about 65,000 cubic meters, equal to filling 120 25-meter swimming pools.
However, there has been little progress in the construction of the interim storage facility due to difficulties in acquiring the necessary land. The landowners of the temporary storage site in the Baba area plan to readjust their paddy fields from around 2018, and the municipal government has considered it difficult to extend the land lease with no prospect of when contaminated waste can be removed. The municipal government has not yet found another site to store the contaminated waste after the current temporary storage site is returned to landowners.
■ Interim storage facility
An interim storage facility is planned to be built in an area covering 16 square kilometers in a difficult-to-return zone straddling the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Okuma and Futaba, site of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The envisaged facility is intended to be able to store up to 22 million cubic meters of contaminated waste and soil generated by decontamination work. In March this year, a small amount of contaminated waste was transported to the facility site on a trial basis. The law stipulates that contaminated waste should be transported outside the prefecture within 30 years after it is first stored at the interim storage facility.