Rubble from quake- and tsunami-hit areas to be disposed in Tokyo

(Mainichi Japan) September 29, 2011

An overturned car in Sendai (Photo - Gregory Cheong)
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is set to dispose in the capital rubble from earthquake- and tsunami-hit areas in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, officials said.

There is far more rubble in areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant than local bodies can dispose of. Moreover, due to radiation fears, little progress has been made in efforts to dispose of such waste.

Tokyo decided to process rubble from disaster-hit areas after detecting only 133 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of ash generated after rubble was incinerated, far below the upper limit of 8,000 becquerels set by the national government. The central government will foot the expenses of disposing of disaster-generated rubble.

Iwate Gov. Takuya Tasso, who will sign an agreement with Tokyo on rubble disposal on Sept. 30, hailed the move.

“It’ll be a major step toward the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas,” he said. “I hope Tokyo’s efforts will encourage other local bodies to accept waste from disaster areas.”

The metropolitan government intends to transport approximately 500,000 metric tons of rubble to facilities in the capital and dispose of them over a 2 1/2-year period from this coming October to March 2014.

To start with, it will accept about 1,000 tons of rubble stored at a temporary storage site in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. The waste will be transported by freight train to Tokyo from October.

The waste will be separate into burnable and unburnable items. Burnable waste will be incinerated while unburnable waste will be buried in a garbage landfill area in the Tokyo Bay area.

To ensure safety, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will regularly measure the amount of radiation in the incinerated ash and atmosphere around the disposable facilities where the rubble is processed.

In line with national government guidelines that call for the disposal of rubble from disaster-hit areas by the end of March 2014, the Iwate Prefectural Government had worked out a detailed plan to dispose of waste generated as a result of the disaster.

Such waste generated in coastal areas alone amounts to some 4.35 million metric tons. But the capacity at disposal facilities in the prefecture is about 800 tons short per day to meet the central government’s deadline. To make up for the shortage, the prefectural government asked local governments outside Iwate via the Environment Ministry to accept rubble generated by the quake and tsunami.

The ministry responded to Iwate Prefecture that non-industrial waste disposal facilities in 41 prefectures can handle such waste.

The prefectural government began in late June to measure the levels of radioactive substances in such waste at coastal areas. Tokyo also dispatched officials to Iwate Prefecture to hold talks on the disposal of the rubble.

Tokyo will also similarly dispose of rubble from Miyagi Prefecture. However, an official with the Miyagi Prefectural Government said on Sept. 28 that it is still holding talks with a number of local governments over the disposal of disaster-generated waste.

The prefectural government is set to begin sample surveys on rubble for radiation as early as next month.

Click here for the original Japanese story

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