The Environment Ministry plans to build interim facilities to store soil and ash contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, in the prefecture's Futaba county, sources said Tuesday.
The ministry is expected to officially announce the plan by the end of the year. The ministry said it would select a location for the storage facilities by the end of fiscal 2012 at the latest. It now plans to choose municipalities to hold the material.
Futaba county has eight municipalities, including Futabamachi and Okumamachi, where the crippled nuclear power plant is located.
Toshitsuna Watanabe, mayor of Okumamachi, said Tuesday he was told by Environment Minister Goshi Hosono on Monday the ministry would hold a meeting with Futaba county municipalities soon to explain the interim storage facility plan.
According to sources familiar with the matter, ministry officials told the municipalities the government is considering purchasing or leasing land in areas with high levels of radiation expected to remain uninhabitable for an extended period.
The ministry believes limiting candidate sites for the interim storage facilities to within Futaba county, instead of elsewhere in Fukushima Prefecture, would boost facility construction and speed up decontamination work, the sources said. The ministry plans to start building the facilities as early as the summer of 2014.
But Watanabe told The Yomiuri Shimbun, "The government plans to construct interim storage facilities in Futaba county, but it should work on a model decontamination project first."
Meanwhile, Takashi Kusano, mayor of Narahamachi in the county, said, "As [the radiation] came from the Fukushima plant, we have no choice but to [build the facilities in the county]."
(Dec. 14, 2011)