FUKUSHIMA – Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday he will allow the transfer of radioactive soil to a provisional site in the prefecture.
The provisional site is part of a planned interim storage facility for soil and other radioactive waste from decontamination work in the prefecture following the nuclear disaster at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Uchibori told reporters he made the decision to get the ball rolling on decontamination work and disposal of the tainted soil, even though the owners of the land being used for the storage site have to bear a heavy burden.
He said he believes the central government has largely met five conditions requested by the prefecture as a prerequisite for accepting the transfer of such soil.
The prefectural government plans to ask the central government to proceed with the soil transfer in a careful manner by taking into account the sentiment of the landowners.
Uchibori conveyed his decision to the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, which will host the interim storage facility, as well as leaders of six neighboring municipalities during a meeting held in the city of Fukushima, the prefectural capital.
The prefectural government put forward the five conditions last August for allowing the transfer of soil to the site, including safety measures for the site and soil transportation and the conclusion of a safety agreement between the Environment Ministry and local governments.
Okuma and Futaba plan to accept the soil on condition that the ministry revise its draft safety agreement over a monitoring system after the construction of the facility.
Uchibori planned to explain his decision and request revisions to the draft in a meeting in his office on Wednesday with Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki and reconstruction minister Wataru Takeshita.
The storage facility will be built in an area covering 16 sq. km straddling Okuma and Futaba.
The Environment Ministry began work on Feb. 3 to build the storage site with the aim of beginning delivery of contaminated soil by March 11, which will mark the fourth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the nuclear disaster.
The central government plans to complete final disposal of the contaminated soil at a site outside Fukushima Prefecture within 30 years.