Land acquisition for Fukushima dump site may reach 70% by 2020: ministry


The Environment Ministry will likely be able to acquire about 40 to 70 percent of the site it plans to use as an interim storage facility for radioactive soil and other waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster by fiscal 2020.

The estimate is part of a five-year road map for building the facility that was presented Sunday to a council in the city of Fukushima representing the prefecture and local municipalities.

The 1,600-hectare (3,953-acre) site straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where a triple meltdown was triggered by tsunami spawned by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

If 640 to 1,150 hectares are acquired, 5 million to 12.5 million cu. meters of radiation-tainted waste can be stored there. By fiscal 2020, the ministry aims to finish transporting radioactive soil now being stored at schools or residential areas.

Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters after the meeting that the ministry’s calculations are based on a realistic approach, adding it will continue lobbying local landowners to support the project.

To complete the project, the ministry will have to negotiate with 2,365 landowners whose property is on the targeted 1,600-hectare site. As of Friday, the ministry had visited about 1,240 of them and acquired a mere 22 hectares from 82 of them.

The negotiations are taking longer than expected due to the need to calculate official compensation. The planned facility is slated to store up to 22 million cu. meters of radioactive waste for decades.

By the end of the month, about 50,000 cu. meters of waste are expected to be transported to a provisional storage facility set up at the site.

In fiscal 2016 starting April 1, the ministry plans to transfer about 150,000 cu. meters to the site and increase the amount in stages, depending on progress with the land acquisition process.