Gov’t begins demolishing former base for battling nuke accident in Fukushima

The Environment Ministry began full-fledged work on Nov. 25 in Okuma town to dismantle the former Fukushima Prefecture Nuclear Emergency Response Center building where the central government situated its local headquarters to cope with the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Starting on the east side of the building, workers used heavy machinery to begin crushing the 20-centimeter-thick outer wall, causing a thunderous sound to reverberate around the site. The ministry expects to complete the demolition work by the end of March next year. The former center is located about 5 kilometers west of the crippled nuclear power plant. About 100 people were working there at the time of the disaster. But the facility lacked sufficient equipment to keep out radioactive fallout, sending indoor radiation dosage higher and forcing staff to retreat to the Fukushima prefectural government’s offices just four days after the accident began. The center ended up failing to fulfill its duties, which included supporting the evacuation of residents, and later came to be seen as a symbol of weak preparedness for nuclear hazards. The facility is situated inside a designated reconstruction and revitalization base area in a difficult-to-return zone. The Okuma town office is seeking to have the evacuation order still in force lifted in the spring of 2022, and develop the area and vicinity for residential use. Ahead of the demolition work, the prefectural government recovered more than 200 items from inside the facility, including whiteboards on which developments at the time of the disaster were scribbled down. Some of them are to be displayed in a “hall for passing down the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster” to be opened next summer in Futaba, adjacent to Okuma, to transmit lessons from the accident to future generations. The nuclear plant straddles the two towns. 【Photo】 Heavy machinery is used to begin demolishing former Fukushima Prefecture Nuclear Emergency Response Center. (Translated by Kyodo News)