• Kyodo

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A panel in charge of soil contamination countermeasures for the giant fish market intended to replace Tsukiji said Saturday it will review whether the facility is safe without the pollution-preventing soil base that was promised under the original design.

“As the precondition that a soil base should be created beneath the buildings has changed, we will assess the current situation and reassess safety,” Tatemasa Hirata, head of the Open University of Japan’s Wakayama branch and the chairman of the panel, told reporters at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.

Concerns about soil contamination have put the plan to move the aging Tsukiji market on hold. Tsukiji, which opened in 1935 in Chuo Ward, is supposed to relocate to Toyosu, a waterfront site in Koto Ward that stands on a former Tokyo Gas Co. production plant.

The panel had advised covering the whole site with a layer of soil 4.5 meters deep. But because underground pipes and wiring were needed for the main buildings, the metro government retracted the plan without notifying the experts.

Hirata did not offer a timeline when asked when the safety assessment will be completed.

“We will solve the problems one by one. We can’t predict when to draw a conclusion,” Hirata said.

He also said it would now be difficult to install the soil layer under the base of the facility, but that the experts will consider that option as part of the contamination countermeasures.

Meanwhile, the metropolitan government on Saturday disclosed that small amounts of arsenic and hexavalent chromium had been found beneath the buildings at the Toyosu site, but not enough to cause concern.

Hirata said “there is no problem” because the toxic chemicals are within permissible levels.

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