The governor of Ishikawa Prefecture, central Japan, says the earthquake that hit the Noto Peninsula on New Year's Day is estimated to have produced over 2.4 million tons of waste.
Hase Hiroshi said at a news conference on Tuesday that the amount is roughly equivalent to seven-years' worth of waste generated annually in the prefecture.
The Noto Peninsula earthquake destroyed or badly damaged about 55,000 houses in the prefecture. Quake-hit municipalities must dispose of debris and other waste from demolished buildings and furniture.
The waste is concentrated in the severely affected northern part of the peninsula. There are 576,000 tons in Suzu City, 349,000 tons in Wajima City, 313,000 tons in Noto Town and 275,000 tons in Anamizu Town.
In total, this amounts to about 1.51 million tons, or roughly 60 percent of entire prefecture's waste output. This is around the same as 60 years' worth of waste normally generated in these areas.
The prefecture plans to collect the waste, store it temporarily in each municipality, and then transport it by land or sea to processing facilities within and outside of the prefecture. The prefecture plans to reuse some of the waste.
The national government and municipalities across Japan will send workers to areas in the prefecture.
The Ishikawa government aims to complete the disposal by the end of March 2026.
The governor said the amount of waste is shocking, but failure to dispose of it could hinder reconstruction efforts.
He said the work is too much for waste-disposal companies in the prefecture, so he is hoping for help from across the country to deal with it quickly.