OSAKA – The Osaka District Court has ordered the Environment Ministry to disclose the results of its December 2011 survey on local governments’ plans to accept tsunami debris from the Tohoku region following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
A citizen’s group in the city of Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture, had asked for disclosure of the document, which contained the results of a questionnaire the ministry carried out on municipalities around the country.
Disposal of tsunami and quake debris from the 2011 disaster has long been controversial because locals were worried that the waste was contaminated with high levels of radioactive materials released from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s wrecked Fukushima No. 1 plant, which experienced three reactor core meltdowns.
In May 2012, the ministry turned down the group’s request to make the information public, citing the possibility that its release “would put an unjust pressure on municipalities considering to accept the debris and therefore would hamper smooth communication between them and the national government.”
In ordering the release of the document on Thursday, however, presiding Judge Kenji Tanaka said that residents worried about radiation contamination “would incur huge damage from the government’s no-disclosure decision.
“The government should work harder to provide accurate information and engage in dialogue with residents, especially when resistance (for local disposal of the waste) is expected,” he said.
According to the Environment Ministry, disposal of all disaster debris from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures was completed in March. Fukushima Prefecture has made it a policy to dispose of its debris within the prefecture.
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