Workers on Friday began delivering soil and other radiation-tainted waste generated by the decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis to a makeshift storage yard at a storage facility in the prefecture.
The government plans to build depositories on around 16 sq. km of land in the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, to eventually store massive amounts of radioactive waste. But the plan remains highly uncertain amid slow progress in negotiations with landowners.
Contaminated waste was delivered Friday to a section of the site in Okuma, but shipments to the Futaba section were delayed until March 25 at the request of local authorities.
The Environment Ministry decided to move the waste — still being stored near residents' homes and other places across the prefecture four years after the crisis began — to the temporary storage yard.
"The start of delivery marks a major step forward for the rebirth and reconstruction of Fukushima. I'd like to thank local communities for accepting it," Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki told a news conference Friday.
Over the next year, around 43,000 cu. meters of waste — equivalent to less than 1 percent of the estimated total of 22 million cu. meters created by the Fukushima No. 1 reactor meltdowns — will be delivered, the ministry said.
The government is negotiating with about 2,400 landowners to secure the land needed for the facilities, but many people have voiced strong concern that the storage could end up being permanent if the land is acquired by the state. Others are refusing to sell because the land was owned by their families for generations.