The Environment Ministry is eyeing the Tokyo metropolitan area for its first trial runs outside Fukushima Prefecture on reusing soil decontaminated after the 2011 nuclear disaster, The Asahi Shimbun learned on Dec. 6.
The ministry said the tests will take place at three government-related facilities in Tokyo, Saitama and Ibaraki prefectures.
But authorities said they have yet to gain the understanding of residents at all three candidate sites on the reuse of the soil, which still contains low-level radioactive substances.
The decontaminated soil has been kept at an interim storage facility in Fukushima Prefecture, but a law requires final disposal of the soil outside the prefecture by 2045.
The volume of decontaminated soil in Fukushima Prefecture, excluding the difficult-to-return zones where radiation levels remain high, is about 14 million cubic meters, enough to fill 11 Tokyo Domes.
Reusing the soil is part of the government’s efforts to reduce that volume before disposal.
The ministry is considering conducting the tests at the Shinjuku Imperial Garden in Tokyo, the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the National Environmental Research and Training Institute in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture.
Tokorozawa city will hold a briefing on the plan for about 50 residents on Dec. 16.
Under the experiment in Tokorozawa, decontaminated soil will be reused for lawns, and tests will be conducted to verify changes in radiation doses in the air.
For the trial runs in Tokyo and Ibaraki Prefecture, the soil will be used for parking lots and flower beds.
“We would like to use the experiments to gain public understanding regarding the reuse of the soil,” Environmental Minister Akihiro Nishimura said at a news conference on Dec. 6.
Only soil that measures below 8,000 becquerels per kilogram, the threshold set by the government, will be used in the trial runs.
The ministry has been conducting experiments on reusing the decontaminated soil for farmland in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture.
But plans for similar tests in Minami-Soma and Nihonmatsu cities, also in the prefecture, fell through after residents opposed.