IWAKI, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – An irradiated, abandoned town adjacent to the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has agreed to let the central government build a dump there which will house contaminated waste for as long as three decades, the town’s mayor said Tuesday.
Cleanup workers will toss radiation-tainted soil, leaves and debris in the facility in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, Mayor Shiro Izawa said.
Futaba is a stone’s throw from the nuclear plant which contaminated swaths of the countryside. Residents of some towns are vociferously opposed to hosting long-term radioactive storage. But Futaba’s citizens are now dispersed elsewhere and are unlikely to return to their homes anytime soon.
Izawa was speaking to reporters at the town’s temporary office in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.
The central government plans to build a storage dump on land straddling Futaba and the neighboring town of Okuma.
Last August, Yuhei Sato, then governor of Fukushima, approved the construction of the facilities. In December, Okuma authorities said they would agree to the plan.
In Tuesday’s meeting of Futaba assembly members, Izawa explained his decision to accept the storage facilities.
Later he told reporters: “We cannot move forward toward reconstruction unless we make a tough decision.”
But he said the central government must fully explain the plan to the landowners involved.
On Wednesday, Japan’s government allotted ¥75.8 billion for the construction of temporary storage facilities for waste such as contaminated soil generated from cleanup activities in Fukushima Prefecture.
The figure includes ¥4.4 billion for land purchases, ¥70.7 billion for construction and ¥700 million for research.
The administration had initially planned to earmark ¥100 billion. However, some landowners have been refusing to sell and most of the budget allocated for this year remained unspent. Some ¥4.5 billion set aside in fiscal 2014 for land purchases will be carried over to fiscal 2015.
The government has promised that the waste will be moved out of Fukushima within 30 years.