Facility completed to incinerate radiation-polluted sludge

The Environment Ministry has completed the country's first incineration facility in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, to reduce the volume of radiation-contaminated sewage sludge which is continuing to increase following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. The ministry opened the facility to the prefectural and municipal governments as well as media organizations on Aug. 5. It plans to put the facility into full operation in September. The facility, built at a Fukushima prefectural government-run purification center in Koriyama, is designed to incinerate sludge at a high heat of about 850 C and reduce the volume of sludge by about 95 percent. It is capable of incinerating 90 tons a day with 24-hour operations with little smell. The ministry said it will incinerate sludge after removing tree branches and stones at a tent next to the sludge storage house. The ministry said it will incinerate about 11,000 tons of sludge contaminated with radioactive cesium of more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram as well as some 4,000 tons of earth used as a cover to reduce the smell of polluted sludge. It is scheduled to complete the incineration by the March 2014 end of fiscal 2013. The radiation density of incinerated ashes is expected to reach 20,000-30,000 becquerels per kg. Unless the density exceeds 100,000 becquerels per kg, the incinerated ashes will be temporarily stored in container vessels at the purification center and later be sent to an existing disposal site in the town of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture. Talks between the Environment Ministry and the Tomioka municipal government are under way on the plan. The ministry said it will set up monitoring posts on radiation at four locations within the purification center and publicize data collected on its website. (Caption) Tour participants view the new incinerator (center).