Fall Quarterly 2017
Last year Japan’s Environment Ministry announced a plan to use radioactively contaminated soil scraped from Fukushima-Daiichi fallout zones to build roads. Cleanup operations in Japan following the March 2011 triple reactor disaster included removing and collecting radioactive topsoil in one-ton plastic bags. School yards, hospital grounds, childcare facilities and thousands of other areas frequented by children were scraped. Millions of tons of the highly-contaminated bagged waste have accumulated in eleven Japanese prefectures and images of landscapes covered to the horizon with stacked bags have become icons of the catastrophe.
Under the “environmental” plan, radioactive soil with an arbitrarily chosen level of contamination will be taken from bags and spread as a base layer in road building. This layer would then be covered with uncontaminated soil, asphalt and other material with a thickness of at least 19 inches.
The ministry displayed a verification project in Fukushima Prefecture last May. Press reports have started to question the proposal’s potential health and safety risk to road workers, truck drivers and nearby residents who could be exposed to radioactive dusts during construction. “Dusts settling on water, agricultural fields or gardens could contaminate food and water,” reported Nancy Foust for Simplyinfo.org
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