Original Japanese written by staffer The English below written and arranged by Heeday, based on the original Japanese The English edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA
Articles from the February 13th and 17th, 2016 editions of the Fukushima Minpo and the February 14th edition of the Asahi Shimbun newspapers
▼Click each image to read an English summary of the Japanese article.
Much of the land desired for intermediate storage of radioactive waste from the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), surrounds the NPP. This land is in the “no return zones,” where radioactivity is high and citizens are not permitted to enter without special permission. The Fukushima Prefectural Government, and the municipal governments of Okuma and Futaba towns, decided to store radioactive waste from the decontamination work almost a year ago. Japan’s Ministry of the Environment has been carrying out a pilot (trial) transfer of some radioactive waste into temporary storage facilities built on such land. The transfer should end sometime in March 2016.
Sounds fine so far, but —
The land acquisition negotiations for intermediate storage sites are in the doldrums. Currently, therefore, no one knows how soon the building of such storage facilities can begin, or when the full transfer of radioactive waste can begin. So far, after all those difficult negotiations, less than 1% of the needed land has been acquired. Yes, such storage sites are indispensable as Fukushima tries to rebuild itself. Still, the Ministry has a serious shortage of negotiators, while many land owners are reluctant to “give up the lands their ancestors have left for them.”
Where can it go?
At the same time, the Fukushima Prefectural Government says the existing temporary storage facilities are almost full. While the complete transfer of radioactive waste into intermediate storage has yet to begin, the decontamination work is still in progress, creating more and more waste. The obvious result is that heaps of collected radioactive waste are piled up close to houses and offices that have been “decontaminated.”
Part of our everyday life
I am a resident in Koriyama, Fukushima, and every day I see piles of waste along the streets. At many houses, waste from the decontamination of the house is simply buried under the garden. True, the decontamination reduced the radioactivity of the house a bit, but it is creepy to know that some radioactive waste lies beneath the yard. Living here means that you will never be free from radioactivity.
The Japanese author’s wish
To rebuild Fukushima, we have to decide soon where all the radioactive waste will go. No future generation should have to live among heaps of radioactive waste. I do wish for intermediate storage for all the hazardous waste as soon as possible so that our children and their children can live in safety. Yet at the same time, many land owners are reluctant to sell their land for intermediate storage sites, knowing their own life stories are in the land. This issue has no easy solution.
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