Transfer of radiation-tainted soil from Fukushima Prefecture school starts


The Environment Ministry on Saturday started work to transport radiation-tainted soil and other waste from an elementary school in Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, to an interim storage site in the same prefecture on a trial basis.

The ministry plans to finish the work before the end of August while schoolchildren are taking their summer holidays, officials said. A total of 1,500 cu. meters of soil and other tainted items from decontamination work are kept at Yashirogawa elementary school in the town of Tanagura.

This marks the first transportation of tainted soil from a Fukushima school to the interim storage site that straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba.

Trial work to move polluted soil will begin also at four other Fukushima elementary schools soon. The amount of contaminated waste at the four schools in the city of Koriyama and the town of Asakawa totals about 1,500 cu. meters.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, a total of 316,400 cu. meters of tainted soil is being stored at 1,173 locations in the prefecture, including schools and kindergartens, as of the end of March. The amount to be transferred to the interim storage site during fiscal 2015, which ends March 31, will be limited, prefectural officials said.

Decontamination at Yashirogawa elementary school was conducted from January to June this year. Soil and other waste from the cleanup work is kept mainly in sacks.

On Saturday, some 20 workers were engaged in the transportation work. The school is about 150 km from the interim storage site.

The prefecture launched the experimental transportation program in March. About 43,000 cu. meters of waste from 43 cities, towns and villages will be transferred to the storage site within fiscal 2015. The work has been completed in six municipalities, including Okuma and Futaba.