Japan's Environment Ministry will carry out tests at 2 sites where soil generated in decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident is buried.
Outside Fukushima Prefecture, where the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located, some 330,000 cubic meters of soil are stored in 53 cities, towns and villages in 7 prefectures in eastern Japan.
The soil is currently kept at some 28,000 locations, including schoolyards and parks.
Local residents have called on the government to safely dispose of the soil as quickly as possible. The environment ministry will start testing soil disposal methods in the spring.
The sites chosen are a nuclear research institute in Ibaraki Prefecture and a sports ground in Tochigi Prefecture.
Ministry officials say the stored soil will be buried in the ground and then covered over again with clean new earth. They will then measure radiation levels at areas surrounding the sites and the amount of radiation that workers were exposed to.
The ministry will start negotiating with local governments regarding a full-scale disposal after verifying the test method's safety and drawing up an appropriate disposal plan.