The Japanese government is planning to set aside 100 billion yen (around US$970 million) for a storage facility for tens of thousands of tons of contaminated soil from the radiation caused by the Fukushima disaster, this according to a report from the Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday. The government will set aside the cash to buy some 3 to 5-square-kilometer (1.2 to 2 square miles) piece of land somewhere near the crippled plant to use for this purpose.
The main challenge for the Japanese government will be finding a candidate site for the facility. The central government is looking for a site that it can use “temporarily” – that is, for around 30 years – but it will be a political challenge to do so, as no local authority has volunteered so far. Ideally, Tokyo is eyeing land in three heavily contaminated towns near the plant, adding environment minister Nobuteru Ishiara will speak with local officials this weekend. The mayors of the towns – Futaba, Okuma and Naraha – along with the governor of Fukushima prefecture Yuhei Sato, are believed to be very concerned that the temporary site could easily become permanent.
A large area around the plant was evacuated weeks after the March 2011 disaster when a huge tsunami caused reactor meltdowns in the Fukushima nuclear power facility. And while some areas are now deemed safe for residents to return to, a majority of the other areas remain off-limits because of high radiation readings. Buying up land in these areas could be one way that the central government breaks the present deadlock in which evacuees remain in temporary housing because they are unable to buy new land or a new house without selling their now-worthless home. As of the end of August, the total amount of contaminated soil and debris collected through decontamination efforts, in which the top layer of soil is stripped from the land, stood at 132,738 tons, about 80 percent of which is from Fukushima prefecture.
[via Channel News Asia]