5 Janvier 2013
January 4, 2013
Illegal dumping of contaminated soil suspected
The Japanese government will investigate suspected illegal disposal of radioactively contaminated soil by some contractors in Fukushima Prefecture.
The government commissioned contractors in July of last year to decontaminate housing and other areas of 11 municipalities in the northeastern prefecture.
The Environment Ministry obtained information about some of the contractors working in Tamura City, Naraha Town and Iitate Village.
They are suspected of illegally dumping contaminated soil and vegetation into rivers and not collecting the water used in decontamination.
The ministry's guidelines stipulate that tainted soil should be sealed and stored in places of decontamination work or at initial storage sites. They also require contractors to collect the water used in decontamination.
Violators will be imprisoned for up to 5 years or fined up to 10 million yen, or around 115,000 dollars.
The ministry will question the contractors as early as Monday and look into whether similar violations are suspected in other areas.
Contractors might be illegally dumping radiation-tainted soil, vegetation and water into rivers or other places near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Environment Ministry said Friday.
The ministry plans to summon senior officials from the contractors to the Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration to answer questions on how they manage contaminated waste.
Some of the contractors hired to decontaminate areas tainted by the fallout are suspected of illegally dumping tainted material in the coastal town of Naraha, the hard-hit village of Iitate, and even farther inland in the city of Tamura, the ministry said.
A special law made due to the nuclear disaster bans illegal dumping of contaminated substances into the environment and makes it punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to ¥10 million. The guidelines for decontamination work require contractors to store tainted substances at the decontamination site or at temporary storage sites.
"It is very regrettable if that is true," Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato said of the suspected dumping at his first news conference of 2013.
January 4, 2013