An Environment Ministry panel said Saturday it is possible to build interim facilities in three towns in Fukushima Prefecture to store soil contaminated by the nuclear catastrophe.
On-site surveys show that the towns of Okuma, Naraha and Futaba have ground solid enough to build such facilities, the panel said.
The panel’s conclusion is “a major step forward,” Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue told reporters.
However, officials of the three towns remain cautious about hosting the facilities.
The ministry will compile concrete plans to build the facilities and ask the three towns by the end of this year to host them. Detailed plans will be made public when the requests are put forward, Inoue said.
The facilities, which would commence operations in January 2015, would store tainted soil and incinerated ash from areas contaminated by the 2011 meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1.
The ministry plans to set up another panel to discuss measures to ensure the safe transportation of contaminated soil. That panel will select soil transportation routes to lessen the impact on the health of residents.