IAEA inspects project to reuse soil from Fukushima

The UN nuclear agency has exchanged opinions with Japan's environment minister on a project to reuse soil that had been exposed to radioactive fallout following the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.

Nine delegates including members of the International Atomic Energy Agency and decontamination experts visited Fukushima Prefecture this week to inspect the project, as well as facilities for storing such soil.

Soil exposed to radioactive fallout from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been collected and is now being stored.

The government plans to reuse it for public works projects, as long as the concentration of radioactive substances meets certain safety standards.

The IAEA delegates met with Environment Minister Nishimura Akihiro on Friday to discuss their inspection.

The head of IAEA's Waste and Environmental Safety Section, Anna Clark, said that she could confirm efforts for safety.

Nishimura said that it is essential to build understanding among people across Japan to agree to the final disposal of the soil outside Fukushima Prefecture.

The Environment Ministry says meetings were held with the IAEA inspection members this week. It says the current status of the project to reuse soil and future plans were explained and IAEA's safety standards on radioactive waste management were shared.

The IAEA plans to continue discussions on the matter and compile a report. Clark said in a news conference that the success of reducing radioactive waste volume is dependent on earning the trust of all parties involved.

The Japanese government is planning to use such soil in Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and in Tokorozawa City, Saitama Prefecture. But the start of the project is nowhere in sight as it has met opposition from local residents.