JAPAN | Local govts worried by N-ash

Posted on August 12, 2011

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JAPAN | YOMIURI | 12 August 2011

Bags of radioactive incineration ash stored in a garbage processing plant in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, on Wednesday.

CHIBA–With residents living near final disposal sites voicing concern and some local governments refusing to accept it, the Tohoku region is reconsidering its arrangement to store ash–some of it radioactive–from the Tokyo megalopolis in its local landfills, it has been learned.

In Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, up to 47,400 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was found in ash at two garbage processing plants in July.

The figure is about six times the government’s interim limit for ash to be disposed of in land reclamation.

But the Matsudo government did not report this information to Kosakamachi, Akita Prefecture, which accepted and finally disposed of the ash.

As a result, 39.5 tons of the problematic ash was buried at a Kosakamachi landfill facility.

The Kosakamachi town government consequently sent a letter of protest to the mayor of Matsudo. The letter said Kosakamachi would refuse accepting any more ash from the city, canceling an agreement made on March 1.

The letter was harshly critical of the Matsudo city government, saying: “The ash was shipped [to us] before the radioactivity results were known. [Matsudo] neglected its responsibility as the ash producer. We feel this situation is extremely regrettable.”

Residents of Kosakamachi also voiced fears about the issue.

“I fear that rainwater may reach the ash and seep into river and pollute our drinking water,” said Yuko Asari, a 55-year-old company employee living near the landfill.

Six containers carrying about 60 tons of the ash and other garbage were stopped near a JR train station in Akita Prefecture and then sent back to Matsudo on Monday.

Ash containing radioactive cesium exceeding the interim limit was also detected in other towns in northwestern Chiba Prefecture, where radiation levels are high compared with surrounding areas.

Up to about nine times the limit was detected in Kashiwa, and up to 3.5 times in Nagareyama.

In Matsudo, about 30 tons of radioactive ash is being temporarily stored in a parking lot and other places. But the city government has said the storage space will become full by the end of this month.

Similarly, about 140 tons of ash is being stored in Nagareyama. The city government has said those storage facilities will reach capacity by about mid-September.

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