Shipment of contaminated soil to interim storage site begins in Okuma town

The Environment Ministry began on March 14 transferring radioactive soil and other contaminated waste to an interim storage site in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, as part of a 30-year project to store waste generated from decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster. About 12 cubic meters of radioactive waste was transferred from a temporary site in Okuma’s Minamidaira district on the first day. The transshipment marks the long-awaited launch of interim storage work that is considered essential for the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture, more than three and a half years since the government requested local authorities in August 2011 to permit installation of waste storage facilities. Meanwhile, the ministry officially announced the same day it will start similar transportation on March 25 to an interim site in Futaba from a temporary place elsewhere in the town. This sort of transshipment over the next year will be conducted as a pilot project to identify problems such as safety. The project calls for the transfer of around 43,000 cubic meters of contaminated waste – about 1,000 cubic meters from each of 43 municipalities in the prefecture with decontamination plans – in the first year. However, due to slow progress in negotiations with landowners, an area of only about 3 hectares of the interim storage site has so far been set aside for use, of which just 1 hectare is ready for receiving waste container bags on a temporary basis pending completion of interim storage facilities.