社説:放射能汚染対策 説明尽くし国の責任で

(Mainichi Japan) August 23, 2011
Gov't should take responsibility for decontaminating soil tainted with radiation
社説:放射能汚染対策 説明尽くし国の責任で

The Japanese government appears prepared to go ahead with the decontamination of soil tainted with radioactive substances leaking from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant after the ruling and opposition parties agreed to enact legislation to make up for a legal flaw.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and two key opposition parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito -- have agreed on the details of a special measures bill on land decontamination and disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances.

The bill likely will be submitted to the Diet as a lawmaker-initiated bill and become law during the ongoing session.

The Waste Disposal and Public Cleaning Law does not cover the disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances.

If enacted, the new law would be the first to cover how to deal with radiation contamination outside the premises of nuclear power plants.

Under the bill, the environment minister would designate areas with high levels of radiation as "special areas."  放射性物質を除去し、放射線量を下げる除染は、必要な場所について環境相が「特別地域」に指定。

The national government would decontaminate the designated areas based on a plan it would work out after listening to the opinions of the local governments concerned.

The minister would also designate areas where radioactive rubble must be disposed of, and the national government would collect such waste, and transport, store and dispose it at its own responsibility.

The bill would require Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima power plant, to bear the costs of decontamination and disposal of rubble contaminated with radioactive substances as part of its compensation for the nuclear accident.

Even though the bill would clarify the central government's responsibility for radiation contamination countermeasures, many hurdles must be cleared before such measures are implemented.

In particular, it is difficult to predict when the environment of the areas where residents have been evacuated can be improved to a level where they can come back and live safely because such a large-scale decontamination operation is unprecedented anywhere in the world.

Therefore, the national government is required to fully release information on how far it intends to reduce radiation levels in affected areas based on its monitoring and provide a thorough explanation.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has for the first time released its estimation of annual cumulative radiation levels at 50 locations in no-entry areas within 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

At 35 of the locations, the amount surpassed 20 millisieverts -- a level that requires residents to evacuate -- suggesting that extensive decontamination operations will be needed over a long period.

The government should also fully release information suggesting that evacuated residents cannot easily return home.

Moreover, depending on radiation levels, it might not be realistic for residents to come home soon even if their neighborhoods were decontaminated in accordance with the bill.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to travel to Fukushima Prefecture later this week to explain to the local governments concerned as well as residents that even if decontaminated, some areas will likely remain unfit for living for many years.

If so, the prime minister must show concrete data and explain how long evacuated residents must wait until they are allowed to return home in order to win their understanding.

Furthermore, Kan should also explain specific measures to extend assistance to residents of such areas, including where they will live for the time being.

Difficult challenges to removing rubble will likely emerge in the future, such as how to secure a site for the disposal of ash generated after rubble contaminated with radioactive substances is incinerated.

Questions also remain as to whether the final disposal site should be created in Fukushima Prefecture or other areas.

The national government must take all possible measures to ensure safety in disposing of contaminated rubble and gain the understanding of local residents.

毎日新聞 2011年8月23日 東京朝刊

by kiyoshimat | 2011-08-25 07:50 | 英字新聞

<< 金総書記訪露 対「北」協力は核... リニア新幹線 最先端技術を国益... >>