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First bags of contaminated debris prepared for transfer to Fukushima interim facility via The Asahi Shimbun

KAWAUCHI, Fukushima Prefecture–Preparation work has started for the transfer of radiation-contaminated debris from a temporary storage site here to a planned interim facility that has been opposed by landowners and may not open as scheduled.

The temporary storage site holds 4,377 bags each containing a cubic meter of soil and debris contaminated by radioactive substances released in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis that started in March 2011.

The Environment Ministry on Nov. 11 allowed reporters to see the preparation process, which involved the bags being uncovered and placed into new bags for transport.

Decontamination work around the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has created tons of radioactive debris stuck in temporary storage while the government tries to find more permanent storage sites.

In late August, former Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato accepted the central government’s repeated requests to build an interim facility to store contaminated soil on a long-term basis in Okuma and Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture.

But government officials are having a tough time persuading landowners to sell their property at the proposed site. Wataru Takeshita, state minister in charge of reconstruction, indicated on Nov. 7 that it will be difficult to open the interim storage facility by the deadline of January next year.

The temporary site in Kawauchi opened in late 2011 and was one of the first places to store contaminated debris. The ministry decided to start preparations here for the transfer because the bags have been sitting idle for nearly three years and may be showing signs of deterioration.

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