National

Latest Toyosu groundwater survey finds benzene 120 times over safety limit

JIJI

A survey of groundwater at the new Toyosu wholesale food market has found it is polluted with benzene at concentrations 120 times the safety limit, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said.

That’s the highest reading for the carcinogen since land remediation work was completed in November 2014 to reduce contaminants left by a gas plant that once stood on the toxic site, which is replacing the famed Tsukiji market.

The groundwater survey, conducted between May and August, also found arsenic four times over the safety limit and the presence of cyanogen, a banned toxin.

Meanwhile, an air survey conducted last month on the first floor of the market’s main building and 11 locations outside it did not find excessive pollution.

“No major change was confirmed in the pollution situations as a whole,” a panel screening safety measures for Toyosu said Thursday of the results, noting that pollution was trending downward in some areas.

“Safety is secured, from a scientific viewpoint,” the panel said of the air survey.

As additional measures, the metropolitan government plans to improve Toyosu’s water quality in the medium to long term, partly by “strengthening the functions” of its groundwater management system.

In June, new Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced she would move forward with the relocation plan for moving the Tsukiji fish market in Chuo Ward to the toxic Toyosu site in neighboring Koto Ward. The decision came about 10 months after she put the plan on hold after learning about secret safety shortcuts at Toyosu, and just after she was elected governor.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is preparing to promote talks on when to execute the relocation plan, with autumn 2018 seen as a likely time. It plans to continue releasing the results of Toyosu groundwater and air pollution surveys about every three months.