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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Waste - again... What's to be done ?

March 4, 2012

86% of municipalities reluctant to accept debris from March disasters



TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A total of 86 percent of municipalities in Japan responding to a survey said they are reluctant to accept debris from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, which were severely hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, partly due to fears it may contain radioactive substances resulting from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the poll showed Saturday.

The survey, conducted by Kyodo News in February, covered 1,789 municipalities and prefectural governments. On the issue of disposal of debris, 1,422 of Japan's 1,742 municipalities, or 82 percent, responded.

In the survey, 33 percent of responding municipalities said it would be difficult for them to accept debris from the prefectures now, while 53 percent said they have no plans to accept such waste.

The result indicates that achieving the central government's goal of completing the disposal of debris generated by the disasters by the end of March 2014 may be difficult.

Twenty-seven municipalities in Aomori and Chiba prefectures as well as Hokkaido and Tokyo said they have already decided to accept debris while 127 municipalities in 34 prefectures said they are considering cooperating in the disposal, according to the survey.

But 466 municipalities said it is difficult to accept waste now and 753 said they have no plans, it showed.

Aomori and Yamagata prefectures and Tokyo have already accepted debris from the disasters, while Shimada city in Shizuoka Prefecture began a trial incineration of debris from a town of Iwate.

In multiple responses to a question to municipalities and prefectural governments on obstacles to accepting debris, 53 percent of respondents said they have no facilities for disposal, 41 percent cited fears of radioactive substances, 24 percent pointed to the geographical distance for transportation and 20 percent cited opposition by local residents who fear radioactive contamination.

The Environment Ministry estimates a total of 20.45 million tons of waste have been generated in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, but only about 1.17 million tons, or 6 percent, had been disposed of as of Feb. 27.

As for Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the Fukushima Daiichi plant, a total of 2.08 million tons of debris are estimated to have been generated, and about 95,000 tons, or 5 percent, have been disposed of. Debris in Fukushima will be disposed of within the prefecture.




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