Interim storage complex for polluted waste starts partial trial operations

8 June 2017

The Environment Ministry launched on June 7 trial operations of part of a complex under construction in an area straddling the towns of Okuma and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture for the interim storage of soil and other waste contaminated by fallout from the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Under testing is a "waste-accepting and sorting facility" in Futaba, construction work on which began last November. The facility plays the role of an entry point for contaminated waste. The test operation is intended to confirm whether the facility can precisely separate polluted soil from vegetation and other waste.

Contaminated soil is brought to the complex from temporary storage sites where it is kept in bulky bags known as flexible containers. At the Futaba facility, these bags are torn apart, and foreign content such as grass and wood removed, allowing soil to be sorted out into two categories: one for soil with radioactive cesium content of 8,000 becquerels or less per kilogram and the other for more than that standard.

(Translated by Kyodo News)