In Japan, nowhere to go for contaminated soil via The Chicago Tribune

The Japan News/Yomiuri

IITATE, Japan – Piles of black bags sit in what used to be farmland in the Hiso district of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, as if to block the sunlight coming through the clouds.

The bags contain contaminated soil accumulated from decontamination work after the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake five years ago. Hiso is currently a “a short-term temporary storage site” for such soil before it is moved to another place.

The more decontamination work proceeds, the more polluted soil accumulates. The central government plans to keep the soil at interim storage facilities that are under construction in the towns of Okuma and Futaba in the prefecture. However, only a small portion have been completed, leaving the government with a shortage of locations at which to hold the bags until they are taken to the interim storage facilities.

As a result, the farmland has been turned into “temporary storage until the bags are stored in other temporary storage.”

“For farmers, the soil in rice paddies is a treasure,” said Yoshito Kanno, 63, who lends most of his 2.6 hectares of land to the government. “It’s disheartening to see things like that [the bags] when I come back to the village.”

Kanno, a 15th-generation farmer, cannot help but be discouraged whenever he returns from Nihonmatsu in the prefecture, where he has taken shelter, to see his home village.

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