Typhoon Wipha – considered by the Japan Meteorological Agency as a “once in a decade” storm because of its strength – did not hit Japan head-on, but it did cause deadly landslides on Izu Oshima Island, about 120 km south of Tokyo, and produced some 30,000 metric tons of debris that will probably cost 1 billion yen (around US$10 million) to remove, local authorities have estimated. The Oshima Municipal Government assessed the extent of the debris and the damage, which included uprooted trees, damaged houses and structures, and found that it surpassed the 22,000 tons of debris left after torrential rain damaged over 1,100 houses in Aso, Kumamoto Prefecture, in July 2012.
The Oshima municipal government lacks the capacity to deal with such a massive amount of debris and will have to seek the cooperation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for the disposal of the debris outside the island. According to the town authorities, some 6,000 tons of the estimated 30,000 tons of debris includes furniture, tatami mats and other household goods from collapsed homes, while the remaining 24,000 tons consists of uprooted trees and other wood. Apart from this, some 80,000 tons of earth and sand will need to be moved or removed from residential and road areas. The debris and sediment are currently being collected at five locations on the island, but one of the sites is already full, according to town officials. The island’s incineration facility is capable of processing around 20 tons of combustible waste a day, but that facility is busy incinerating general day-to-day waste from the island’s population. The town and the capital are set to discuss methods for out-of-island waste disposal on Nov. 5, noting that buried debris needs to be separated from earth and sand before disposal.
Upon visiting Oshima on Nov. 3, Senior Vice Minister of the Environment Shinji Inoue said that, “We have experience in disposing of debris in broader areas following the Great East Japan Earthquake. We will dedicate all our strength to disposing of the debris at the earliest possible date.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also visited typhoon-hit island on Oct. 27 and declared that it will be designated as an area hit by a “disaster of extreme severity.” This designation would allow the population of the island to receive higher central government subsidies for reconstruction from the devastation brought on by Typhoon Wipha.