Mayor Yuko Endo of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, explains to residents in Koriyama about plans to store radiation-contaminated soil. (Hiroki Koizumi)
Only two of 59 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have decided where to build temporary storage areas for soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
One reason so many have not yet decided on a location is uncertainty over where an intermediate storage facility for the radioactive soil will be established. In fact, all 59 municipalities contacted by The Asahi Shimbun said they did not want to host the intermediate storage facility.
Another reason that municipalities have not picked sites for temporary storage of the contaminated soil is opposition from residents.
"If something polluted should be brought nearby, we may no longer be able to drink our well water," said a 78-year-old man, whose home in Kawauchi is near a candidate site for a storage area.
The central government will handle soil decontamination in the six municipalities that fall completely in either the no-entry zone or the area where preparations must be made for emergency evacuations around the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Of the remaining 53 municipalities, 28 plan to compile a decontamination strategy while 19 are considering such a move. The six municipalities that have no intention of drawing up such plans are all located in the Aizu region, which is distant from the Fukushima plant.
Officials in the Aizu municipalities said no districts under their jurisdiction had annual radiation levels exceeding 1 millisievert, the level at which the central government is using to determine areas that should be decontaminated.
The only municipalities that have selected locations for temporary storage of contaminated soil are Izumizaki and Aizu-Bange. The temporary storage areas will be set up on municipality-owned land.
Three other municipalities -- Fukushima, Otama and Samegawa -- have only selected temporary storage areas for certain areas under their jurisdiction.
Many other municipalities said local residents will not agree to temporary storage areas if they do not know how long the areas will house the radioactive soil.
Various municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have been holding meetings to explain to residents plans for decontaminating the polluted soil.
The village of Kawauchi held such a meeting on Oct. 7 in Koriyama, where many of the villagers have evacuated to. It was at the meeting where the 78-year-old man raised concerns about the well water.
Kawauchi village is located within either the no-entry zone or the evacuation preparation area of the Fukushima plant.
Although village officials had plans to set up five temporary storage areas, no conclusion was reached on Oct. 7 because of the many questions raised by local residents.