Okuma town to offer municipal land lot for interim nuke waste storage site

The Okuma town office offered on May 31 to provide a municipally owned tract of land to the national government as part of a site for building interim facilities to store waste contaminated with radioactive substances associated with cleanup work following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The offer was endorsed at the day's meeting with all town assembly members. The public land is to be provided as a place to store polluted waste temporarily kept in the premises of schools in Fukushima Prefecture. The projected storage site straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba, both close to the crippled plant. Futaba is also poised to offer its own part of the site but has indicated it will wait until after confirming the intention of residents. The meeting took place behind closed doors, except for the beginning, at the town's branch office in Aizuwakamatsu city. According to participants, no assembly member took issue with Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe's proposal to offer the municipal land. But some members urged the town not to use the offer to prod private landowners, who are still cautious toward the storage site, into agreeing to sell their plots. Others expressed hope that the national government will aggressively promote reconstruction works such as decontamination in town areas polluted with nuclear fallout from the accident, especially those designated as a "difficult-to-return zone." "We need to offer our cooperation to secure children's safety and peace of mind, and accelerate the town's reconstruction," Watanabe told reporters after the meeting. "We will convey our policy in a few days to the Liberal Democratic Party's prefectural chapter, which earlier requested the offer of town-held land." According to the Environment Ministry, public land at the projected interim storage site is about 330 hectares. Okuma's portion is some 95 hectares, including about 15 hectares on which stands "Fureai Park Okuma," a sport facility. Futaba-owned land is approximately 70 hectares. (Translated by Kyodo News)