Polluted waste shipments to interim storage site seen completed as soon as FY2021

Transportation to an interim storage complex of soil and other waste collected in Fukushima Prefecture by decontamination work associated with the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant may be completed as soon as fiscal 2021 ending in March 2022, the Environment Ministry told Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake vernacular daily, on Nov. 21. Under the ministry’s plan, 12.5 million cubic meters, about 80% of total planned waste shipments from various places in the prefecture, are to be trucked to the complex by fiscal 2020. The facility is under construction in an area straddling the towns of Okuma and Futaba that host the crippled plant. With acquisitions of privately owned land for the project well underway, the reminder of waste is expected to be transported to the complex in about a year after the bulk is brought in. The ministry showed a revised version of its five-year waste shipment plan for fiscal 2016-2020 at a meeting of all municipal assembly members of Okuma and Futaba, each held the same day. The volume of waste generated by cleanup operations in the prefecture and scheduled to be carried into the complex is estimated at 15.2 million cubic meters. Based on progress in land acquisitions, the plan calls for 1.8 million cubic meters to be shipped to the complex in fiscal 2018, 4 million cubic meters in fiscal 2019 and 6 million cubic meters in fiscal 2020. With 700,000 cubic meters scheduled for shipment from fiscal 2016 and by the end of fiscal 2017, the combined total comes to 12.5 million cubic meters by fiscal 2020. To be left over are some 2.7 million cubic meters. "Given this pace of shipment, waste transport can be completed by the end of fiscal 2021," a ministry official said. But decontamination work has yet to be finished in some municipalities. Moreover, work to set up "designated reconstruction hubs" in highly contaminated difficult-to-return zones is expected to get into full swing in the years ahead. The project thus faces uncertain factors, with the total volume of waste to be brought into the complex subject to change in the future. ■44.9% of land plots contracted As of Nov. 20, the ministry concluded land purchase contracts with 1,233 owners out of 2,360 in total. The contracted land plots add up to about 718 hectares, approximately 44.9% of the total land area planned to be acquired for the complex. (Translated by Kyodo News)