Radioactive soil stored at Fukushima schools not covered by recent disposal law, has nowhere to go

JIJI

Radioactive soil currently stored at schools in Fukushima Prefecture is not supposed to be transferred to radioactive waste storage facilities planned to be built near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Jiji Press learned Tuesday.

This is because decontamination at schools was carried out before a special law on radioactive contamination took effect in January 2012 and thus the Environment Ministry deems tainted soil collected during the work not covered by the law. The central government undertakes or funds decontamination work.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government is arguing that such discrimination is pointless and has repeatedly called on the ministry to create a system that will allow soil contaminated with fallout from the March 2011 nuclear calamity at the power plant to be shipped from schools to the planned interim storage facilities.

“We want the state government to prepare an environment where children can study safely,” a senior Fukushima municipal official said.

But the ministry has not given a clear response. This reluctance may be partly due to concerns over the cost of shipping soil to the facilities to store tainted soil before being finally disposed of at other locations. The cost is to be borne eventually by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

A senior ministry official said it may be unfair to discriminate between radioactive soil collected before and after the law’s effectuation.

In August, the Fukushima Prefectural Government decided to accept the construction of the temporary storage facilities around the nuclear plant.

Hoping to begin radioactive waste shipments to the facilities in January, the central government is working to win the consent of landowners on the construction.