Debris removal to start in former no-go zone

JIJI

Work to remove debris left by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami will begin in places previously included in the no-go zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the Environment Ministry said.

The first such work will start Friday in the Tsukabara and Oi districts in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, officials said Tuesday.

A 20-km exclusion zone was established around the crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co. facility in March 2011. The entry ban has been lifted in districts where relatively low radioactive contamination has been monitored.

The Tsukabara and Oi districts have an estimated 22,000 cu. meters of rubble.

The debris will be divided between combustible and noncombustible before being taken to provisional storage facilities in the Tsukabara district. Some waste will be recycled.

Rice checks eased

JIJI

Regulatory checks will ease this year for radioactive cesium from Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled nuclear plant, to help farmers, agriculture ministry officials said Tuesday.

Areas where the level of cesium found in 1 kg of rice harvested last year was 100 becquerels or less will be subject to less strict monitoring this year.

Levels of cesium detected in rice have generally fallen thanks to measures taken to reduce absorption of the metal.

Meanwhile, checks will be carried out on all rice from areas where farming is to be resumed in 2013 and where cesium of over 100 becquerels was found in last year’s crop.

Condo demolition

JIJI

Regulations on demolishing condominium complexes badly damaged by natural disasters will be eased to help speed reconstruction, as recommended by an advisory body to the justice minister.

The subcommittee of the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council is also proposing that a short-term land lease system be created so temporary stores and houses can be established quickly.

The government plans to submit the changes to the Diet during the current legislative session, officials said Tuesday.

Under the existing Civil Code, condominium buildings can’t be pulled down unless every unit owner agrees.

The panel proposed making demolition of buildings and sale of land possible with the agreement of at least four-fifths of the owners if the asset value of their building falls by more than half due to a disaster.