The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Thursday began investigating water found beneath buildings at the site of the proposed new fish market in Toyosu. The site was supposed to replace the famous 80-year-old Tsukiji market on Nov 7 but newly elected Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike delayed the move after reports began coming in that underground water may be contaminated by chemicals because the site was once occupied by a Tokyo Gas plant.
Koike, who left for Rio de Janeiro on Thursday to receive the Paralympic flag, said before departing that metropolitan government officials had rejected advice from a panel of experts back in 2008 to replace two meters of soil with fresh soil and then raise the land a further 2.5 meters with more soil, which would result in a 4.5-meter-deep soil base for the entire market. Instead, hollow space was left beneath three buildings and construction proceeded without any of the panel's recommendations being implemented.
On Thursday, Shintaro Ishihara, who was governor of Tokyo in 2008, told reporters he had no knowledge about the contamination issues, Fuji TV reported. He said he wasn't an architect or environmental expert, that he did not understand the technical details and relied on advice from his aides.
Since Sept 7, three political parties have been conducting independent analyses of the water at the site -- the Japan Communist Party, the Komeito Party and the Democratic Party. They have asked private research institutes to analyze the water for traces of benzene and cyanide which were used at the old Tokyo Gas plant site.
Koike said Thursday it is important to clarify whether the puddles are rainwater or groundwater. The results of the tests are expected to be known later Friday or Saturday.
The soil contamination issue is the latest issue in the market's relocation plan, which has turned into a fiasco.
After she was elected, Koike postponed the move until at least early next year to await final groundwater testing results at the new site, and questioned the 588 billion yen in relocation costs. The Tokyo government also paid 86 billion yen in cleanup costs before construction began.
Vendors have been left in a state of confusion as some have already moved into the new facilities and there have been some heated exchanges between Tsukiji fish market workers and metropolitan government officials, almost on a daily basis as the situation continues to unfold.© Japan Today