JAPAN | Man freed after arrest for collecting radiation-contaminated rubble in Fukushima

Posted on July 8, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 8 July 2011

Police officers in protective suits search for missing people in Minami Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Wednesday, April 13, 2011. The city is inside the evacuation zone within 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

A man has been freed after being held on suspicion of collecting rubble allegedly contaminated with radiation from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant without permission, the Mainichi has learned.

The man was arrested on March 26 after allegedly collecting about 1.8 metric tons of broken brick walls and other rubble from a house in Koriyama for a 42,000 yen fee without a license in violation of the Waste Disposal and Public Cleansing Law.

The Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office, however, decided to set him free without charge after concluding that the law does not apply to waste contaminated with radioactive materials, and the rubble gathered by the man may be contaminated with radiation. The prosecutors office declined comment on the case.

Police and other authorities concerned are asking the central government to quickly write a law to regulate contaminated waste to prevent the spread of radioactive materials through dumping.

The Environment Ministry’s Office of Waste Recycling Program Planning said, “The current exclusionary regulations do not define the density and dose of radioactive materials and may abet crime, so we are looking into the possibility of revising the law.”

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