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substances, such as dioxin, that exceed the allowable environmental limits.”

Ono said it was possible that sheets laid out under the garbage to prevent the leakage of pollutants were damaged, but said there was no pollution in the ground as the residents had claimed.

He also said the sites did not not threaten the lives or health of the plaintiffs.

An official of the association, which was created by municipal governments in the Tama region, said the ruling was appropriate. The residents said they will appeal the decision.

About 160 plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that soil and the water table near the sites in the town of Hinode have been polluted, ecosystems have been destroyed, and the number of cancer cases has risen among people living nearby.

The association argued that their operations had not degraded the environment. It said the level of pollutants detected in the two areas was far below the level set by the government.

The two sites opened in 1994 — one in Yatozawa and the other in Futatsuzuka — and receive garbage from 3.9 million people living in the 26 municipalities in the Tama region.

Civic groups bought the land that was to be used for the dump sites, but the government expropriated it in 2000, triggering them to file six lawsuits asking the court to nullify the decision.

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