Tokyo real estate company buys nuclear waste dumping ground in Fukushima Prefecture

A construction company with ties to Mayor Kusano of Naraha Town in Fukushima Prefecture has sold a former stone quarry in neighboring Hirono Town to a Tokyo-based real estate company. The buyer said they have plans to use the quarry to dispose of radioactive material and rubble from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

The site of the former stone quarry in Hirono Town is approximately 120,000 sqm and is 26 kilometers south of the nuclear plant in the emergency evacuation preparation zone. The closest neighbor to the quarry is an old farm house which is less than 200 meters away. Mayor Kusano’s eldest son operates the construction company that sold the quarry. It was sold in May, 2011, for 700 million Yen (9.1 million USD).  The size of the excavated pit in the quarry is approximately 1,300,000 cubic meters.

The buyer said they plan to dump concrete scrap from an area within 30km of the quarry, along with radiation-contaminated rubble that will be decontaminated prior to disposal.

According to plans by the Ministry of Environment, if the radioactive cesium concentration is less than 8,000 Bq/kg, then it is possible to dispose of it by burying it. Rubble that has 8,000 ~ 100,000 Bq must be encased in cement in order to prevent contact with water before being dumped. For rubble that exceeds 100,000 Bq, it must be encased in concrete walls and stored temporarily. The disposal place must be approved of by the Prefectural Governor. The Prefecture Governor of Fukushima Prefecture has so far strongly opposed the dumping of radioactive waste within the prefecture, leading to far reaching repercussions.

Mayor Kusano said they have arrangements with contractors for the safe cleaning and decontamination of the rubble and said it poses no threat to residents. He went on to say that he has no connection to the negotiations with Hirono Town as the contractors will be negotiating with the Town directly.

Mayor Yamada of Hirono Town said it will be very difficult for them to accept the site as a dumping ground. Even if they cannot decontaminate the rubbish, they will have to deal with taking in the other waste matter from the neighboring towns which  will also be a difficult task.

The Chunichi Shimbun, September 10, 2011