politics

Gov't to support municipalities that accept tsunami debris

50 Comments

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Sunday the government will offer financial support to local municipalities that accept tsunami rubble from the Tohoku area.

Speaking on NTV's "Bankisha" program, Noda said the government will financially help local governments that agree to accept tsunami debris by subsidizing the construction of incineration and other disposal facilities and by paying for radiation checks of the debris.

The government aims to clear up all the disaster rubble by March 2014, but Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who is also the minister in charge of dealing with the nuclear crisis, said last month that so far, only a little more than 5% of the estimated 23 million tons of rubble from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures had been disposed of.

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Translation: Make a little smoke, and we'll make it worth your while.

If there's money to build incineration plants wherever anyone's prepared to accept the brown envelopes, why do we need to ship the debris round the country at all? Just build the plants near the debris.

Or is that too much like common sense?

And where is this money coming from? I can't imagine many people being pleased to learn that the money they donated to help is being spent on creating caesium-flavoured clouds in their backyards.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

what about Hawaii and west coast of america ? No help ???

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Since politicians seldom do anything without a brib...er, 'donation', it's not surprising their only solution to burning possibly radioactive debris somewhere other than near the melted down nuclear power plant is to offer 'assistance' to towns. Okay, sarcasm off.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Exchange Radioactive Debris for Donation, is like exchanging 'pachinko' balls for money though gambling is illegal in Japan.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Noda says, "...financial support to local municipalities..." My question: How local is local? Is he saying the gov't will support building incinerators located NEAR the mountains of debris? I hope so.

Or does he consider Tokyo to be "local". There are already several incinerators throwing the radioactive smoke up into the Tokyo skies, all located too "locally" to me (and everyone else).

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This plan of spreading radiated debris all over japan sucks big time. Now here come the bribes!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Imagine that! The government bribing people.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

utterly useless leadership in Japan. Willing to build plants somewhere other than where the debris is located. Japan is doomed if people don't wake up soon and demand that their leaders have some common sense.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

tkoind2: "Japan is doomed if people don't wake up soon and demand that their leaders have some common sense."

The problem is, the government realizes this to an extent. Hence, they want to form a 'grand coalition' so you have no choice as to whom to elect.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

With those millions of tons of debris, I am quite sure a large portion are recyclable. Instead of donations, why not make incenerators and recycling plants near the devastated areas as part of the rehabilitaion? On top of my head, I can think of the following reasons:

Recycling plants and incenerators create jobs locally Recycled items can be sold off to other prefectures Manufacturing plants can be built around the recycling plants Less money needed to move the debris Isolated cases of accidents Easier disposal of irradiated items

Uless, of course, the cash that they plan to dole out are being laundered, but the government's not related to the mafia in any way ... right?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

So to make it more appealing and an easier sell they call radioactive debris, tsunami debris.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Smith, you and I are on the same page with this topic. I am sure that is a big part of their vision.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think the problem with the debris isn't being handled in the best way. In Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima there are an estimated 23 million tons. The debris from Fukushima isn't part of the current event. The debris would fill 20+ Tokyo Domes.

The governments of Miyagi and Iwate are requesting other prefectures take 5% of the current total. There are plans to build four new incinerators in those prefectures which will also generate power. I read three mayors from Miyagi say there's no problem with the debris staying in the prefecture.

Wherever it happens, incineration creates the problem of hundreds of thousands of tons of ash containing some level of radiation. There are locations in Miyagi which can't be reconstructed because the ground level dropped 70 cms and is are now prone to sea flooding.

The debris could remain in the prefectures and then be put into land reclaiming projects along the coast.

The current no-go zone and the special no-go zone around the Fukushima power plant should be made permanent for 50 years, by which time the power plant should have been decommissioned. The government intend from this month to start removing contaminated soil from within those zones, creating another mountain of soil of 20 million + tons.

The debris could be moved to the no-go zones, forget the decontamination and revisit in 50 years time.

7 ( +11 / -5 )

@zichi

Prudent comments as usual. I wish you could be the Governor of Tokyo.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The money (bribe) isn't working because 80% of the prefectures don't want to take any debris. Yamagata has incinerated about 20,000 tons and Tokyo has agreed to take 500,000 tons and will put the ash into landfills along Tokyo Bay.

2 ( +4 / -3 )

Why even call it support? It is a bribe.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is what they did to push nuclear power on people in the first place. The bribe offer just started so I wonder how long it will be before the local Poobahs start bending over and saying "once more if you please, sir." They're taking my tax money to bribe crooks to poison the air my children breathe.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Kanagawa was one of the first to raise hands in accepting the debris, but the idea was thrown out due to the opposition of the local people. The situation is very sad, and I feel sorry for the Tsunami hit areas, but I can't blame them since the incinerating facilities are right in the middle of a densly populated area, and also because as a fact, there is over 2500Bq/kg in the ashes (not the main ashes but collected ones in the duct) as is.

On the other hand, they can't shut down Fukushima for 50 years. People are too attached to their home land.

I don't see any way this can be resolved...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The biggest mistake here is the presumption the debris here is contaminated. Most of the most devastated cities, still covered in rubble with no place to put it, were further from the nuclear accident than Tokyo.

Just reflects the prejudice inspired by the propaganda in the western media mixing the idea that it was the nuclear plant that caused the 23,000 dead and the tsunami.

Zichi, why would you truck unconaminated debris into the nuclear accident redzone hundreds of kilometers away? You want to contaminate the debris? Put the drivers at risk?

Your solution is based on the presumption that the waste in Miyagi is as contaminated as the redzone around Fukushima, which is exactly the misinformed prejudice that is preventing people in the cities up there being unable to rebuild, because everyone thinks they are somehow covered in cooties.

The issue is a simple waste processing issue - those prefectures lack the processing capacity. This is not an issue about radiation.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

On the other hand, they can't shut down Fukushima for 50 years. People are too attached to their home land.

A 60 mile zone around Chernobyl has been off limits for 25 years. People are not allowed to live within certain distances of active volcano's.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why move the debris round the country in the first place, just build incineration plants where the debris is piled up and burn it on the spot, or move it to within the 20 k exclusion zone round the nuclear plant and burn it there, the lack of a brain by those in charge here is absolutely incredible sometimes. Concentrate the debris in the worst possible place for crying out loud, dont spread it all over the country.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have the flu there everyone needs to catch it and share the suffering mentality is ridiculous.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

ExportExpert - why stop rebuilding when processing facilities exist elsewhere.

And other than still being homeless and unable to rebuild, and mourning their dead loved ones, what "flu" do people in Miyagi and Iwate have, exactly?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Hikozaemon,

Just after the start of the reactor meltdowns, the highest level of radiation travelled northwest from the power plant. According to the Science Ministry, the radiation has contaminated 10,000 sq kms, with more than 600 sq km contaminated at a level greater than 20 millisieverts per year. Parts of South Miyagi have contamination and some hotspots. Parts of Iwate also the same.

The governments of Miyagi and Iwate have stated that the contamination in the debris "should not be" greater than 100 becquerels/kg. Some of the debris already incinerated has shown levels of radiation, which means the ash must be collected and stored.

Part of the debris is already in Fukushima is already there. Transport of the debris to Tokyo went via rail and not trucks. Incinating the debris does not seem to be the right answer and creates its own set of problems.

The debris could be put into reclaiming land along the coast, or it could be stored inside the Fukushima no-go zone. With the decommissioning of the power plant, that too will produce a small mountain of very highly radioactive waste.

The reconstruction seems to be moving at a snail's pace, and needs to be in top gear but many areas still don,t have a plan. Much of the ¥800 billion set aside last year wasn't used because of the slow pace.

What is holding up the reconstruction are the lack of agreed plans and not the debris.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Zichi - while Fukushima suffered a lot also, the vast majority of debris is in Miyagi and Iwate. All the waste transported to Tokyo and Yamagata has been tested both on departure and arrival to confirm (and alleviate) radioactivity concerns. I believe that only one truck has actually shown levels that warranted turning back to date.

Removal of debris is a huge issue affecting reconstruction plans (sure, planning is part of that too, but Miyagi and Iwate cities have been begging for help moving debris because it is such a hindrance - it isn't a non issue like you imply, and the vast majority of the debris we are talking about has no levels of detectable radiation.

It looks like the Japanese tradition of shunning and ostracising victims is well embedded in the foreign community here too.

1 ( +2 / -2 )

Hikozaemon,

Dude the waste created by the tsunami is nasty stuff, & wud still be nasty EVEN if we never had nuke issues in Fukushima, in case you dont know tsunami dont create nice sorted piles of garbage, quite the opposite in fact it mixes it all up so you have building materials, gas, oil, chemicals, soils etc etc etc all mashed up, pretty guaranteeing whatever is burnt is going to produce some nasty waste products they go into ther air & remain as ash etc.

I wish it were different but CLEARLY the single best way to deal with all this is as close as possible to source, simple fact

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So Japan has these islands up north called the Kuril Islands. They want to make that political statement that they blong to Japan and not Russia.

I bet Russia wont want them if all that waste is "stored" there.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hikozaemon,

I have never stated that the debris isn't an issue. I have never said it does not need to be moved if it stands in the way of reconstruction. There are options for dealing with it and inclination may not be the best one, whether that done in Miyagi or Kyushu.

The think the best options are to put it in a land reclaim on the coast which could also be part of a rebuilding project for the busted sea defenses. It could be put into a landfill in a location which has sunk and now subject to sea flooding. Or it could be moved to the no-go zone in Fukushima.

There are more than one option so can we discuss that instead of accusing me of not caring for the victims of the disaster, because you would be very mistaken on that point. Not all the politicians in Miyagi and Iwate agree that incinating is the right option.

4 ( +4 / -1 )

In other words, politicians who accept burning rubble will get their pockets lined handsomely. The general public won't see a yen of benefit from this.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

GW, nearer is better of course, but the whole issue is that on their own it would take a decade for these prefectures to clear the debris on their own, and hence slow reconstruction. The whole nation should be helping to rebuild after this disaster. The debris needs to be cleared for reconstruction ASAP, and it has been a year already. They need help, and aren't getting it because of ignorant prejudice.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are a few simple reasons why the disposal of the waste should be mostly done where the rubble is.

First, transportation is not necessary. Transportation carries potentially contaminated stuff to places which still have rather low amounts of cesium hot particles floating around in the air. It should better stay like that.

Second, carrying around the stuff needs a lot of transportation. This requires unnecessary CO2 emissions, sicne the same amount of material could be gradually handled locally as well.

Third, building the facilities in Tohoku creates infrastructure and jobs. Both are in short supply since the tsunami. It creates jobs for blue collar workers, which have been lost in large amount due to the breakdown of agriculture and fisheries. While these might be restarted in a few years (once the fears about contamination of foodstuffs have subsided somewhat), these jobs would be very nice for many people to bridge the gap.

Fourth, such incinerators might serve a greater purpose by improving the flexibility of the local power grid in Tohoku. They are new power plants which can reduce the need for NPPs. They could be the trigger to wrest control of the grid from the giant electricity companies. Thereby, they could be key in establish renewable energy plants in Tohoku. The necessary construction work for renewable energy can be done by those workers who first constructed the incinerators.

Fifth, stepwise removal of the waste will make the land accessible for construction. In the best case, construction of things which are not very endangered by further earthquakes and tsunamis. Construct wind-driven power plants there in large numbers, because they easily withstood the eqrthquake and tsunami last year. The construction workers have safe and stable jobs for a long time and these plants can be designed such that they are unaffected by earthquakes and tsunamis (of the scale from last March).

If one is capable of thinking on a longer timescale - on a timescale where the nuclear plants have gone offline - Tohoku must invest into new paths of electricity generation for the Kanto area. Otherwise, Tokyo will have quite a problem. They must develop their infrastructure. This is a chance to develop an industrial branch in a large area not by chance, but with an efficient system.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Hikozaemon,

The problem of dealing with the disaster debris should be dealt with based on reason and logic and not emotions. It should be done in the safest way and also the most cost affective.

The debris contains many kinds of materials including dangerous chemicals and probably even a certain amount of asbestos. The total amount is for all these materials and I have never seen any figures informing how much of each. Like there will be metal from cars and also steel from collapsed buildings. That part of the debris could be transported to a metal smelting works, like a steel plant, for melting down. The organic part of the debris like wood could be turned into wood chips and spread on the land. The part containing dangerous chemicals needs to go to a proper chemical dump.

That leaves the part which could be incinated but I have no idea how many thousands of tons it would be. That could go into a land fill inside Miyagi or even Fukushima, or like I've already stated could be used for reclaiming land.

I see no reason why all these options can't be happening now and I don't understand why the metal part of the debris didn't even go to a smelting works last year.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Johannes Weber,

Yes, agreed, your comment voted up!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's called bribery.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Gov't to support municipalities that accept tsunami debris

Support? C'mon! This is Japan! Use the correct English! "Gov't to bribe municipalities to accept tsunami debris"

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According toe the Environment Ministry, wood accounts for 70% of the total debris of 23 million tons. Can't that be turned into wood chips and spread on the land?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

this is where the bribes + siphoning of taxpayer $ will occur.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zichi, sure, if you can process it all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Instead of supporting those who do, why don't they just punish those who don't.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Johannes Weber, I think a lot of people know what you are saying is a great way to go. But let me give you a few reasons why they want other parts of Japan doing the job.

-There are too much debris. It will take a long time to get it finished, which during that time, a lot of the land storing the debris will be useless and people who need the land will not be able to get a life.

-They do not have enough facilities to get it done. New facilities aimed for this cause will mean heavy burden on the local economy and all of Japan if run by the government. After the cleanup is complete, they will no longer need such a huge facility so it will be a waste of valuable money.

-People may have a job, but since this is a very limited one, it will not do any good for the people who need permanent jobs. It will not boost the local economy, it will be like another bubble. Blue collar workers are already getting a lot of places they can work within construction sites since whole cities and villages need to be re-built. I saw one article saying hotels and restaurants are benefitting from these "construction rushes" as they say in Japan, but they are very worried about their future when all this will end.

As I mentioned, I'm no politician so I can't see how this can be resolved quickly and without further harm.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There are still no reconstruction plans which makes me wonder if politicians are using the problem of the debris to cover up their own lack of actions?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hiko,

Transporting this stuff long distances is simply a COLLOSAL waste of $$$$$$$$$ & its bad enough we will be ripped off blind no matter how this is taken care of but if you start transporting long distance can you say double, triple or more the costs I sure as hell can, I use trucks all the time I know how much they cost & it wud be insanely expensive.

Its coming on a year since 3/11 now, Japan needs to start making SMART hard decisions more than stupid emotional ones, we aint got the YEN for either but the later will bury us all.

If the govt & those affected cant start making the hard/smart decisions we only have to look a Futenma to see whats likely to result, ie decades of infighting & bickering, we are already seeing it. I DO NOT enjoy watching those affected having to uproot & make dratsic changes but we had huge multi disasters the country has no choice but to make these.

I certainly have my doubts, had them long before 3/11, to me it seems the govt is more likely to flub this than get it right, for once I REALLY REALLY want to be proven wrong, but sadly..........

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

GW - this is a practical issue. There are still a number of towns buried in debris.

Waste processing capacity in all the prefectures affected is based on producing normal household and industrial waste - a big rubbish bag a week per household. Not a whole household. The waste needs to be cleared, and sorted. Given that there is almost no landfill space left in Japan, everything that can be burned must be burned, but sorted from recyclables, toxics, and unburnables first. Then processed waste can be used for reclamation, infilling, recycling or whatever.

The key is, abandoning the worst hit prefectures - Miyagi and Iwate - is going to leave them buried in their own debris for decades as their waste processing tries to gather and process it all, leaving victims in temporary housing unable to rebuild and start their lives in the meantime.

The priority here is to clear the rubble and allow people to rebuild as soon as possible. This "not on my dollar or in my backyard" attitude is just as bad as the "Tohoku people all have radiation cooties" attitude visible here, and loudly prevalent in Kansai and Kyushu.

I'll agree, I don't think it is practical to divide the waste into 2% lots and distribute evenly to all prefectures - closer is of course better. But point is, whether the truck drives it for one hour to a Miyagi based processing site, three hours to a Yamagata processing site, or eight hours to a Tokyo processing site, the only way to help the earthquake victims rebuild is to share the burden of processing the debris wherever the extra capacity to do so exists.

You don't want to be paying for the fuel of trucks carrying rubble from destroyed homes in Miyagi? I don't think we are talking in practical terms about sending this furhter than Kanto and Hokkaido, but bear in mind that your concern about fuel cost of garbage trucks is going to condemn quake victims that have already lost everything to ten more years unable to rebuild because their own prefectures are overwhelmed.

This isn't an emotional issue. It is purely one of human decency - which is apallingly lacking for the tsunami vicims.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would have thought the first area of reconstruction would be on the sea defenses. No point rebuilding anything if you can't stop the sea coming in.

I've seen photo's of cleared land in Miyagi, vast open spaces were reconstruction can begin. But there needs to be some radical rethinking on what is built and where it's built. Green energy should play a major part. "housing complex islands" built to withstand any tsunami.

Old solutions to old problems won't cut it. We need the brains of the country's finest architects to come up with new ideas.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hiko,

I hear, I do, however as Zichi above correctly points out there desperately needs to be a WHOLESALE re-think on a WHOLE lot of things, to just blindly start re-constructing is imo a HUGE mistake. I am sorry if I come off as a super cold SOB, maybe I am, but I truly think those areas that were destroyed need a total re-think & that its extremely foolish to just try to re-create most of what was lost.

Affected areas need to be assesed, some cleaned up & simply left, or made into parks, industrial use, and sadly there are going to be some places that will never be re-built & will become dumps, believ me I get NO JOY typing that but we cant sugar coat this stuff

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Zichi,

I wonder if its even worth the bother to try to re-build break waters etc, I mean most were shown to be utterly useless so why through good money after bad. Those that DID help shud be repaired etc, but those that did little or nothing shud NOT be re-built imo, those areas need to move residential areas to higher grounds & look to non-residential uses in lower lying areas.

As you well know this is all going to be hard to impossible to sell but I really think that many areas hopefully come to realize they shudnt simply re-build.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

GW,

nearly all the sea defenses except in one case, were unable to withstand the power of this mega tsunami and it would be difficult to built a sea defense against something that powerful, but there will be other tsunamis of a lesser power but still could do wide scale damage from flooding alone.

Its a very long length of coast line. Also housing complexes could be built more like islands which in themselves could withstand tsunamis.

Some locations have sunk below sea level. Building in mountains also has problems like major landslides, I saw that when we lived in the Japan Alps.

The brains of the country should be working on radical new ideas and there should be no rush to start rebuilding just for the sake of it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Zichi,

yr right a total rethink as far as architecture etc concerned is in order, and design even with the expectation that water WILL invade at times is likely a good idea, "island" design, raised living etc, more open space, how about use the concept of zoning wud be nice.

I really feel for those affected & I hope those that need to relocate are able to accept & move on, carry on, heres to that!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

GW, Zichi. So where do the people in temporary housing go. The government should relocate them and given them civil service jobs?

Also, considering disaster prevention oriented rebuilding, consider that Tohoku is effectively pre-disastered for decades now. Surely if anyone should be forcibly relocated, it isn't the refugees still in temporary housing in Tohoku, but the people living all along the coast from Chiba to Shikoku who are in the firing line for the next tsunami?

In any case - this "your tsunami is your problem, don't expect anyone else to help you" attitude is just sickening to me.

Not the way I was raised.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hikozaemon,

I stated that a radiacal rethink is needed in the reconstruction of the earthquake and tsunami areas. I don't think old solutions to old problems cut it. They should take this opportunity to rebuild and make it one of the best places to live in Japan. Green housing and energy efficiency should play a major part. Housing complexes could be constructed that would be like islands on pillars capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes and tsunamis.

I never mentioned anything about forcing people to relocate which I could never support. I think the area should be rebuild in a futuristic fashion that would even make people from other parts of the country want to live there.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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