Work begins to move polluted soil from schoolyards to municipal site in Okuma town

The Environment Ministry launched work on July 2 to relocate bags of polluted soil from schoolyards to a tract of land owned by Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, which is part of the land planned for constructing an interim storage site straddling the town and Futaba town, both close to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. The polluted soil was removed as part of decontamination works after the 2011 nuclear accident and stored temporarily at schoolyards. On the first day, 28 large bags containing the polluted soil were carried out of the Akai Junior High School ground in Iwaki city. Workers operated a crane truck to load the bags onto five 10-ton trucks, which transported them to parking space in Fureai Park Okuma, about 60 kilometers away, in the Ottozawa district of Okuma town. The ministry plans to use the 0.8-hectare parking area as a storage zone for the present, keeping some 10,000 cubic meters of contaminated soil there temporarily. At elementary, secondary and high schools as well as kindergartens and nursery schools in the prefecture, about 300,000 cubic meters of polluted soil are stored and buried. The ministry is to remove the soil on Saturdays, public holidays, summer vacations and other days when schools are closed after fixing the dates in consultation with municipal and school authorities. On July 9, the polluted soil is scheduled to be removed from "Olive no Ki" (Olive Tree), a nursery school “designated as a center for early childhood education and care." The transport work at Akai Junior High School was witnessed by Shinji Inoue, state minister of the environment, and Iwaki Mayor Toshio Shimizu. “We would like to thank the people of Okuma town where the waste is being moved,” Inoue said. "We expect to carry polluted soil from school facilities as soon as possible for the sake of children's safety and peace of mind.' (Translated by Kyodo News)