86% of municipalities leery of taking debris

Kyodo

Eighty-six percent of surveyed municipalities are reluctant to store or dispose of disaster debris from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in part because it may be tainted with fallout from the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The survey, conducted by Kyodo News in February, covered the nation’s 1,742 municipalities and 47 prefectural governments.

The issue of debris disposal, limited to municipalities, drew responses from 1,422, or 82 percent of them, according to the survey results released Saturday.

About a third of the municipalities said it would be difficult to accept debris now, while 53 percent said they had no plans to accept the waste at all.

Twenty-seven municipalities in Aomori and Chiba prefectures as well as Hokkaido and Tokyo said they’ve decided to receive disaster debris, while 127 municipalities in 34 prefectures said they are thinking about it, the survey said.

Of the 1,422 municipalities that responded, 466 said it would be difficult to accept waste now and 753 said they have no plans, the survey said.

Aomori, Yamagata and Tokyo are already storing debris from the disasters, while the city of Shimada in Shizuoka has begun trial incineration of debris from a town in Iwate.

As for specific obstacles to accepting debris, 53 percent of responding governments said they have no disposal facilities, 41 percent cited fears of radioactive contamination, 24 percent pointed to distance and transportation difficulties, and 20 percent cited local opposition related to radiation.

The Environment Ministry estimates that 20.45 million tons of waste were generated in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures alone, but that only about 1.17 million tons, or 6 percent, had been disposed of as of Feb. 27.

Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, had an estimated 2.08 million tons of debris, with about 95,000 tons, or 5 percent, disposed of. The debris in Fukushima will be disposed of locally.