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Pupils plant grass seedlings to revive schoolyard lawn in Koori town

28 June 2015

Pupils at Danzaki Elementary School in the town of Koori joined work to turn its schoolyard into a grass lawn on June 27 by planting seedlings under the Danzaki Green Project.

The schoolyard was turned into a lawn under the Fukushima Prefecture’s Utsukushima Green Project in June 2010. However, as a result of the nuclear disaster the following year at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, radioactive levels at the schoolyard rose and the grass was removed after mowing, cleansing and other efforts to decontaminate it failed.

In response to requests from local residents and pupils’ parents that the schoolyard be greened again, the Danzaki Green Project office began its operations. The seedlings were provided by the Japan Football Association.

About 350 pupils, parents and guardians, local residents, teachers and others took part in planting the seedlings. At an opening ceremony, Koori Mayor Nobuhiro Takahashi explained measures being undertaken to reduce radioactive contamination and called on all those present to unite their efforts in realizing the lawn. The participants then formed one line and planted the seedlings in the schoolyard of about 5,000 square meters, braving rainy weather and working hard to revive the green schoolyard.

27 June 2015

Shopping arcade in Minamisoma to open greengrocery in July

A cooperative of shop owners seeking to enliven the Sakaemachi shopping arcade in the Haramachi district of Minamisoma city will open a greengrocery in the arcade on July 2. Previous greengroceries on the shopping street have closed down one after another since the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant and there is no such shop left there. “By restoring functions as a shopping arcade, we would like to revive our local community now on the verge of slipping away,” said an official of the Sakaemachi Shopping Mall Promotion Association, which will run the new store.

The shop, named “Sakaemachi Yasai no Mori” (Sakaemachi Vegetable Forest), will sell vegetables, both locally grown and from elsewhere, as well as rice and other produce from Minamiaizu town in cooperation with the town’s association formed by farmers and others. The store will also sell daily necessities and other commodities. In addition to its function as a shop, it will also be used as a learning place where children can take part in events such as sales demonstrations.

“I hope that by selling fresh vegetables, this can become a place for exchanges and interactions (in the community),” said Takaaki Katayama, the association’s chairman. “I also hope it will lead to the permanent return of families that have been evacuated (due to the nuclear disaster).”

26 June 2015

Gov’t to move radioactive waste from 5 Fukushima schools to interim storage site during summer holidays

The Environment Ministry announced on June 25 that some of the radioactive waste resulting from decontamination work following the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, currently stored temporarily within the compounds of five elementary schools in Fukushima Prefecture, will be moved to an interim storage facility under a pilot program starting in July, when pupils will be off for summer holidays. To be covered by the program are packs of waste kept in the premises of three schools in the city of Koriyama and one school each in the towns of Tanagura and Asakawa.

The three local governments have requested that priority be given to removing the waste from the elementary schools to ease schoolchildren’s concerns. The ministry is working with other parties concerned to secure transportation routes and map out safety measures, among other things.

The elementary schools involved in the project are Kaoru Elementary School, Asaka Daini Elementary School and Takakura Elementary School in Koriyama, Yashirogawa Elementary School in Tanagura, and Yamashiraishi Elementary School in Asakawa. At the three Koriyama schools, waste including surface soil dug up from its schoolyard during decontamination is wrapped in shielding sheets and buried in the yard. Meanwhile, the schools in Tanagura and Asakawa have schoolyard surface soil and other materials kept in bags behind school buildings or other places in the campus. A total of about 3,000 cubic meters of waste is expected to be transported from the five schools.

The ministry plans to begin the transportation from around late July and to complete the operation before the new school term starts at the end of August.

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