OSAKA — Preparatory work to remove soil heavily contaminated with the cancer-causing agent dioxin started Friday at a waste incineration facility in Nose, Osaka Prefecture.

The removal, expected to start at the end of this month, is the first such response to dioxin contamination ever in Japan, according to officials of the semipublic Toyono Incineration Center.

In April, it was learned that the soil surrounding the incineration facility contained 8,500 picograms of dioxin per gram of soil. Soil in a pond near the incinerator registered 23,000 picograms of dioxin per gram. Those are the highest concentrations officially recorded to date in Japan.

About 250 cu. meters of soil at the south side of the incineration facility are slated to be removed by the end of November at a cost of about 17 million yen. During preparatory work Friday, eight workers put up fences around the site to prevent contaminated soil from spreading.

The soil will be bagged and stored at one of the incineration facilities’ warehouses. Local residents have sought the arbitration of the Osaka Prefectural Pollution Dispute Panel to make plant operators conduct a thorough survey of the contaminated area and carry out health checks on residents.

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