National

Resident demands city of Fukushima take action after alleged decontamination fraud

Kyodo

A resident of the city of Fukushima filed a complaint Monday demanding the municipality seek the return of ¥12 million from a company that is alleged to have padded its bills for radiation decontamination work by submitting fake photos of bamboo forests, for which cleanup costs are higher.

The city admitted last week that the defunct company — part of a consortium — falsely reported that it worked on a project to clean up radioactive materials from a 2,500-sq.-meter bamboo forest in the city, located about 60 km northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

According to the city, the fee for decontamination work in a normal forest is some ¥500 per sq. meter, but it can rise tenfold for work in bamboo forest where trees are much more difficult to fell.

The company, which closed its doors in March, is alleged to have placed already cut bamboo pieces into the ground on a slope of a hill to make it look like work in a bamboo forest had been completed. It then submitted photos of the site to the consortium.

“The legitimacy of disbursement of taxpayers’ money to radiation decontamination work and the city’s ability to check it have come into question,” the attorney for the male complainant said.

A whistleblower notified the city of the alleged wrongdoing in November, according to a city official.

The man who filed the complaint criticized the city for having failed to take action even after it learned of the allegation. The city is considering filing a criminal charge against the company.