Target for completion of debris disposal in Fukushima Pref. delayed

The government will postpone the March 2014 target for completing disposal of debris in Fukushima Prefecture caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, government officials said Tuesday.

As the disposal work is substantially behind schedule due to the radioactive contamination following the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the Environment Ministry plans to set a new target this summer and to build more incinerators to complete the debris disposal in the prefecture, the officials said.

Disposal of debris in two other disaster-hit prefectures of Iwate and Miyagi will be completed by the end of March 2014 as targeted, they said.

Meanwhile, the government on Tuesday decided to reclassify the no-go zone in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, into two areas with varying levels of accessibility, the officials said. Futaba and its neighbor town Okuma jointly host the disaster-hit nuclear power station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

At midnight May 27, the town's no-go zone will be reclassified into an area difficult for residents to return to over a long period of time and into an area readying for the lifting of evacuation orders. Futaba will be the last among the prefecture's municipalities to be reclassified.

But some 96 percent of the town's population will still not be able to return home as their homes are located in the area difficult to return to for a long period of time, the officials said.

On Tuesday, the Environment Ministry released a report on the progress of disposal of debris in the three prefectures of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi as of the end of March this year.

The report showed that 9.24 million tons, or 58 percent of the total disaster debris, such as incombustible and wooden waste, have been disposed of in the three prefectures.

It also said 3.19 million tons, or 32 percent of the total tsunami deposits, such as dirt carried by the waves, have been disposed of.

By prefecture, 1.80 million tons, or 49 percent of the total disaster debris, have been disposed of in Iwate Prefecture, 6.76 million tons, or 65 percent, in Miyagi Prefecture, and 680,000 tons, or 40 percent, in Fukushima Prefecture, the report showed.

It also showed the amount of tsunami deposits disposed of so far came to 240,000 tons, or 15 percent of the total, in Iwate Prefecture, 2.92 million tons, or 43 percent, in Miyagi Prefecture, and 30,000 tons, or 2 percent, in Fukushima Prefecture.

Separate from this debris, there remain some 470,000 tons of debris in six municipalities close to the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant, almost none of which has been disposed of. The six municipalities are the city of Minamisoma and the towns of Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka and Naraha, all in Fukushima Prefecture.