The Tokyo metropolitan government accepted the first load of tsunami debris from Iwate Prefecture on Thursday.
About 30 tons of debris from Miyako City arrived by train at a freight station in Shinagawa Ward on Thursday morning, NHK reported. The debris, in six containers, was divided into combustible and non-combustible containers, then loaded onto trucks and sent to three waste disposal and incineration facilities.
It is the first time that debris from the devastated Tohoku region has been sent outside the region for disposal.
In order to reassure other prefectures that the debris is not radioactive, the Iwate and Miyagi prefectural governments last month started started testing rubble for cesium and other other radioactive elements.
Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures have massive mountains of rubble, said to weigh more than 23 million tons. However, prefectural government officials say that all storage areas are now full and that they need to ask other prefectures to help with disposal.
Iwate prefectural officials said they burned some of the debris in September and October, and said that radiation levels in the air dropped after the incineration to about .15 microsieverts, NHK reported.
The debris that arrived in Tokyo on Thursday is mainly wood and metal. Tokyo metropolitan government officials said the debris was measured for radiation before it left Iwate and again upon its arrival in Tokyo.
Tokyo plans to receive 11,000 tons of debris from Iwate by year's end. Officials say this month will serve as a trial period, with contractors carrying 40 tons of the debris per day. The capital will start accepting debris from Miyagi Prefecture early in 2012, and receive a total of 500,000 tons from the two prefectures by the end of March, NHK reported.
Since Tokyo first announced in late September that it would accept tsunami debris, it has received more than 1,800 complaints from residents by phone, fax and on its website, opposing the decision due to fears that radioactive substances would escape into the air if contaminated debris is burned.
The disposal facilities being used are all in an industrial zone in Koto Ward, near Tokyo Bay. The non-combustible debris will be buried in landfill areas in Tokyo Bay.© Japan Today