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Protests continue in Miyagi

October 25, 2014

Miyagi town protesters block gov't survey of proposed radioactively contaminated waste site




KAMI, Miyagi -- Protesters here have continued to block an Environment Ministry team from conducting tests at a proposed final site in the town for disposing of waste contaminated with radioactive substances from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Local protesters blocked the road into the proposed site on Oct. 24, thereby preventing the government team from conducting a drilling survey that was scheduled to begin at the site that day. The protesters also submitted a formal letter of protest to the ministry against the proposed site.

Local residents began assembling at the roadblock on the following morning of Oct. 25 at about 6 a.m., holding banners emblazoned with slogans against the disposal site. The Environment Ministry survey team of around 15 people arrived at about 8:40 a.m. with weed cutters and other equipment, intent on making it to the site. However, they were met with chants of "Go home!" and "We'll never allow the disposal facility!" and were unable to get by the protesters.

Kami residents have insisted that the site in their town -- one of three in the prefecture proposed by the government -- does not meet the requirements for a disposal facility, citing fragile rock formations and the serious danger of contaminating local ground water, among other points. They included these objections in the letter of protest presented to an official from the Environment Ministry's Tohoku office.

"There's no guaranteeing our safety if a final disposal site is built here. We will continue our protest," said a 56-year-old resident, who also read the letter out to those at the roadblock. Meanwhile, the 72-year-old head of the local anti-disposal site organization stated, "The Environment Ministry has no idea how much we're worried about economic damage rumors about this place will cause. I will not let them (the survey team) pass, even at the cost of my life."

The ministry official who accepted the letter of protest told reporters, "It will be very hard for us to clear away the residents and enter the site under these conditions, so we will consider whether to forcibly remove the protesters."

The Environment Ministry had planned to start drilling surveys at two other proposed sites in Kurihara and Taiwa, Miyagi Prefecture, but postponed the operations as the municipalities have insisted that all three scheduled surveys be conducted simultaneously.

October 25, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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