National

Toxic chemicals found exceeding standards at new Tokyo market site

Kyodo, Staff Report

Groundwater testing at the site of Tokyo’s planned new wholesale market in Toyosu has found the presence of two toxic chemicals at levels that exceed environmental standards, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Thursday.

Benzene and arsenic were both detected around an area scheduled to handle fruit and vegetables in the market, which has been built to replace the aging Tsukiji fish market.

The results showed the level of benzene reached 0.014 milligrams and 0.011 milligrams per liter at two locations, exceeding the environmental standard of 0.01 milligram.

Meanwhile, groundwater at one location was found to have an arsenic level of 0.019 milligram per liter, above the 0.01 milligram standard.

Similar surveys had been carried out seven times since November 2014 when the Tokyo government claimed it had finished taking steps to deal with soil contamination caused by the area previously hosting a gas production plant.

But this is the first time that toxic substances have been found exceeding the standards.

A panel of experts will assess the groundwater data, but they believe for now that the chemicals have no direct impact on humans, given the amount detected is small.

The latest findings are based on a survey of 201 locations within the new wholesale market, ordered earlier this month by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike after she revealed that crucial soil remediation work had been skipped.

The benzene and arsenic-laced samples were taken from the three locations between Aug. 29 and 31.

In one of her first acts as governor, Koike last month postponed the market relocation, which had been scheduled for November.

She said last week she hoped to reveal all of the facts behind why the metro government secretly changed the original design plan to ensure the clean layer of soil it promised would insulate the main buildings from pollution would never be inserted.

The soil layer was crucial to getting merchants at the famous Tsukiji fish market to approve the plan to relocate to Toyosu.

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