New panel to discuss routes, safety steps for transporting radioactive soil


The Environment Ministry will set up a panel of experts by year’s end to discuss details of the transportation of radioactive soil from nuclear disaster-affected areas in Fukushima Prefecture to planned interim storage sites.

Interim facilities are planned in Futaba, Okuma and Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture for the long-term, but presumably not final, storage of toxic soil and other waste generated by the decontamination of areas tainted with radioactive materials from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station.

Tainted soil and waste now held in temporary storage areas will be transported to the planned interim facilities. The central government is in talks with the three municipalities with the aim of starting the transport of soil and other waste to the planned facilities as early as January 2015.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the amount of tainted soil resulting from decontamination is seen reaching as much as 35 million tons. Moving such a large amount of soil to the planned storage facilities will take years.

The panel will discuss suitable transport routes and safety measures. The entity will also draw up detailed plans after setting a basic policy for the operations.

Expected safety measures include steps to address possible increases in traffic accidents and air pollution from automobile exhaust fumes, as well as moves to prevent the spread of radioactive materials during transportation and the loading and unloading of soil and other waste.