Ending a prolonged and often contentious process, Fukushima Prefecture and two town governments agreed to host an interim storage facility for contaminated debris from the 2011 nuclear crisis.
Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba met Feb. 25 with Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki and Wataru Takeshita, the reconstruction minister, to sign safety agreements, an important hurdle in the process.
Under the deal, the facility will store tainted soil generated from decontamination work for a maximum of 30 years.
Despite the agreement, the mayors said the decision was not easy.
“This is an agonizing decision, but it is unavoidable,” said Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe.
Referring to future negotiations to purchase the land in question, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said, “I hope there will be no heavy-handed methods that will only lead to criticism from the local community.”
Around that time, the prefectural government stipulated five conditions that would have to be met before approval was given. One was that a law be enacted clearly designating a location outside Fukushima Prefecture as the final storage site after the 30-year period for the interim facility ends.
The final condition was the safety agreement signed Feb. 25.
Local governments signed onto the agreement after the central government agreed to their demands related to the site, including a provision that gives them the right to request a halt to the delivery of radiation-contaminated soil.