With the government facing difficulty in finding disposal sites, municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture are being unofficially notified that the goal for completion of radioactive decontamination work in March 2014 may not be met, sources said.
The government also informed municipalities that it will not allow decontamination work to be redone in areas where radiation levels have not declined even after decontamination efforts have been completed.
Those remarks apparently contradict the government’s official stance that it will accelerate decontamination efforts for areas impacted by the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Without a clear explanation, the government has begun to backtrack on its policies.
The government aims to lower radiation levels in areas to one millisievert or less a year. It plans to achieve that goal in all of the evacuation zones in 11 municipalities in the prefecture within this fiscal year, which ends in March 2014, by spending a total of 1.5 trillion yen (about $15 billion) by the end of the year.
The decontamination work is apparently facing a slowdown. Though two years and three months have passed since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, decontamination work has yet to start in many areas.
In addition, additional decontamination work is not being allowed, even if radiation levels do not decline as a result of decontamination efforts. Incidents of slipshod decontamination work have also been revealed. Citizens are also having growing doubts on the cost-benefit performance of the decontamination work.
On the surface, the government is saying that it will accelerate decontamination efforts. Behind the scenes, however, it is showing an opposite stance. That means that the government is abandoning its responsibilities.
The Fukushima prefectural government has not recorded any cases in which a second round of decontamination work has been allowed.
In the village of Yugawa in the prefecture, decontamination work was completed in fiscal 2012, which ended in March 2013. On June 5, the village asked the ministry for a second round of efforts, fearing that radiation levels could rise again due to melting snow. However, the ministry rejected the request, saying, “In principle, we cannot do them.”
“The Environment Ministry’s attitude toward us has always been terrible. We are not surprised at such a rejection,” said an official of the village.