FUKUSHIMA — National policy minister Koichiro Gemba said Sunday that irradiated soil and sludge to be eliminated from areas around the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant should be stored temporarily in Fukushima Prefecture before final disposal measures are worked out.
Gemba, who doubles as chief policymaker of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters, “We should store the soil and sludge somewhere in the prefecture as an interim measure. The national government should be responsible” for the issue.
Gemba made the remarks after visiting temporary housing in the prefecture for evacuees who were affected by the March earthquake and tsunami.
He made the comment as the problem of how to handle enormous amounts of polluted soil and sludge looms as cleanup work is expected to get into full swing when the government soon lifts an evacuation advisory outside the 20-km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The irradiated matter removed from the ground should be first accommodated within local municipalities, after which it should be condensed and put away temporarily at storage facilities to be set up somewhere in Fukushima by the government, he said.