Fukushima waste storage issue come into next stage
People in northeastern Japan are feeling torn over a plan to store radioactive waste from Fukushima Daiichi. Three and half years have passed since the accident at the nuclear plant. Government leaders have proposed building intermediate facilities to hold contaminated soil.
But that means negotiating with property owners who have deep ties to the land. NHK WORLD's Noriko Okada reports.
These thousands and thousands of bags all hold radioactive waste and contaminated soil. They're piled up across Fukushima Prefecture at about 900 temporary storage sites.
Government officials want to consolidate the storage. So they proposed building facilities to hold the waste on an intermediate basis. They asked Fukushima's governor, Yuhei Sato, to let them build the storage units at two towns near the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Last week, Sato told Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he would accept the plan.
"It was a difficult decision to have to make the community bear the burden of hosting these facilities. But I decided that it was the quickest way to clean up the local environment."
Yuhei Sato / Fukushima Governor
"I understand it must have been an extremely tough decision... and I am very grateful."
Shinzo Abe / Japanese Prime Minister
The storage facilities will hold the waste for about 30 years. Central government officials are still trying to find a permanent storage site outside of Fukushima.
The proposed area for the facilities covers about 16 square kilometers. It straddles the towns of Futaba and Okuma.
High radiation levels forced all the residents to evacuate. They still haven't been able to go home. Now, the decision to host the storage facilities is creating mixed feelings.
"I'm against the plan. We won't be able to accept it until it's made clear whether we'll be allowed to go home."
"People somewhere will have to accept the waste, or Fukushima won't be able to make a recovery."
Despite the governor's approval, the plan faces further obstacles.
More than 2,000 people own pieces of land in the proposed storage area. Officials will have to negotiate compensation deals with each of them. But government official says this won't be easy. Many of the former residents inherited the property from their ancestors and have strong ties to the land.
Officials believe they may have a solution. They'll offer to lease the land so that former residents won't have to lose their property. Officials told us they would like to start discussing with land owners...as soon as possible.
And they're planning to start moving the waste to the new facilities in January.