Tokyo Metropolitan Government report says current Tsukiji site may be tainted by chemicals

Kyodo, JIJI

A Tokyo Metropolitan Government report compiled last year says the site of the present Tsukiji fish market may be contaminated by chemicals used in a postwar dry-cleaning plant, officials have said.

The revelation, made on Tuesday, puts Gov. Yuriko Koike in a difficult position regarding the planned relocation of the famous fish market. She has put the move from Tokyo’s Chuo Ward to the Toyosu district, about 2 km south, on hold due to contamination at the new location, the site of a former gas production plant.

The report, however, means that even if the Tsukiji market stays where it is, the site may not be a better option.

Koike tried to play down the report.

The Tsukiji market’s ground is “basically covered with cement and other materials, and we believe there’s no contamination or no legal problem,” Koike told reporters.

The report was compiled last March by the metropolitan government’s construction department, which looked into the history of the market site as part of plans for its reuse.

The report that was later submitted to its environment department said that soil at the aging market could be contaminated because it used to house a laundry facility run by the Allied Occupation Forces after World War II. The factory is believed to have used organic solvent solution and is likely to have left toxic material in the soil.

There is also a gas station at the site that could have also contaminated the soil there, the report said. After receiving the report, the environment department judged that the soil could be contaminated.

The metropolitan government plans to build a highway over the site once the relocation of the fish market is complete. Last year’s report was compiled as part of a required background check for redesignating government land.

The metropolitan government said it will conduct tests at the site where soil contamination is suspected.

If contamination is confirmed, further testing, including a boring survey, will be carried out.

The construction bureau planned to conduct the detailed survey after the Tsukiji market’s closure, which has been delayed due to controversy over the relocation.

Koike is slated to make a decision on whether to carry out the market relocation as early as this summer.