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Tainted water allowed to run off Fukushima cleanup crews cut corners via The Japan Times

Two construction joint ventures hired to wash radioactive substances off buildings in two Fukushima Prefecture communities in December allowed the tainted water to run off into street gutters, an Environment Ministry official said Tuesday.

Although not illegal, the conduct of Taisei Corp., Maeda Corp. and other firms involved in the venture illustrates the types of corners that contractors cut in doing cleanup work.

A special law passed for the nuclear disaster makes dumping of contaminated substances into the environment punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to ¥10 million. However, contractors are only asked to collect tainted runoff, with no penalty for failing to do so.

Recent media reports that contractors were possibly illegally dumping radiation-tainted waste into rivers and elsewhere in Fukushima Prefecture prompted the Environment Ministry’s Fukushima office for environmental restoration to question managers of four joint ventures Monday. They were all hired by the government to do decontamination work near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The ministry investigation turned up the cases of tainted runoff in the village of Iitate and the town of Naraha.

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