An investigative commission for the Environment Ministry estimates the amount of radioactive soil that will have to be decontaminated in Fukushima and four surrounding prefectures could amount to 29 million cubic meters, which they say is enough to fill Tokyo Dome 23 times.
However, Yuichi Moriguchi, a professor of environmental systems engineering at the University of Tokyo, said that estimate was conservative. He was quoted by Fuji TV as saying the amount of radioactive soil is likely to be closer to 100 million cubic meters. That is enough to fill the 55,000-capacity Tokyo Dome, home of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, 80 times.
The government is currently discussing its decontamination options. Experts believe that cesium can be removed almost completely if the first five centimeters of top soil are stripped. The 2,500-square-kilometer contaminated area is equal to roughly one-seventh of Fukushima Prefecture.
Woodland accounts for about 60 to 70% of the total area. The volume of soil to be stripped may be reduced to several tens of millions of cubic meters if mountainous areas away from residential districts are excluded. "I don't think that the whole (2,500-square-kilometer) area will have to be decontaminated," Moriguchi was quoted by Fuji TV as saying.
The central government remains at odds with the Fukushima prefectural government over where to store radioactive debris and waste.
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who is also the minister in charge of handling the nuclear crisis, has advocated the construction of a temporary storage facility for radioactive waste in Fukushima Prefecture, but that idea has been opposed by prefectural government officials. He reiterated Tuesday that the government will consult Fukushima officials before making a final decision.
Earlier this month, Hosono caused a stir when he said that contaminated debris and soil from Fukushima Prefecture should be disposed of outside the prefecture. He said that all of Japan needs to share Fukushima’s plight by providing sites for disposal of the debris.
An Environment Ministry panel, which met for the first time on Sept 14, will draft standards for removing radioactive materials by the end of November so that the removal work can start in earnest from January, Fuji reported.
Environment Ministry officials plan to present various calculations about the scope of decontamination and the volume of soil to be stripped, using Moriguchi's estimates as one reference.© Japan Today