Removed contaminated soil ends up being buried in the ground below a popular park where children play: Koriyama resident’s mixed feelings about decontamination

Article from Fukushiman-masa's blog (January 24, 2014)

Go to the original blog article in Japanese オリジナルの記事はこちら(「フクシマンの福島リポート」)

http://ameblo.jp/masa219koro/entry-11756619812.html

 

The placard says: Before decontamination 1.47μSv/hour, After decontamination 0.14μSv, Measured 50cm above the ground. January 8, 2014
Play/athletic field in Kaiseiyama park, Koriyama. The placard says: Before decontamination 1.47μSv/hour, After decontamination 0.14μSv, Measured 50cm above the ground. January 8, 2014

On December 26, 2013, Fukushima Minyu newspaper carried a report of an official acknowledgement by the city of Koriyama, saying that the city will use parking areas of the athletic field and the city hall, both  situated in Kaiseizan park, as temporary underground storage for contaminated soil that is accumulated during decontamination operations.

 

Kaiseizan park, which also includes an athletic field and the City hall, is located in the heart of Koriyama; it is the most famous and popular park in the city. I live just beside the park and I can tell you that the report by the newspaper is no news to me.  In fact, contaminated soil has been buried in this park for a long time before the newspaper report was published.

 

Every day, many citizens and children, including myself, have seen the burying of contaminated soil in the ground of the field, beside the Kaiseizan swimming pool (currently closed). The burying operation was finished a few months ago and the field has recently been restored to its normal function. Now, in the field, children play baseball, middle school students run, and elderly people enjoy gateball matches. Unfortunately, there are no signs or placards that indicate the existence of contaminated soil under the ground.

I see the dealing with and removal of contaminated soil as a difficult and complicated issue. Not only in Kaiseizan park, but also in my own house, the contaminated soil produced during the decontaminating of my property has been buried, in my case in the ground of my own back yard. 

The contaminated soil cannot be moved away until storage areas are designated. Among the 40 municipal communities in Fukushima prefecture that have been appointed as priority research areas for soil contamination,  4 communities still do not even have temporary storage sites.

The City of Koriyama is one of those communities and it has struggled to find a storage location. As a result, the removal of the contaminated soil in the city ends up being buried in local parks and backyards of individual houses, “temporarily”.  Citizens, including myself, have mixed feelings about this.

Before decontamination, the radiation level inside my house was 0.5 microSievert/hour.

 

“I don’t want to be living in such a place.”

“I hope the decontamination will start as soon as possible”.

 

These feelings contradict other feelings such as:

 

“I don’t want a temporary storage site close to my house”.

“I wish they would stop making dangerous temporary storage.”

 

I feel torn between these contradicting feelings and this makes me reluctant to talk openly about this issue. Recently it was my turn to get decontamination, and finally, 3 years since the accident, the background radiation fell to 0.22 microSievert/hour. So this was a little relief for me.

Masa's house in Koriyama. All the trees around the house were cut down.
Masa's house in Koriyama. All the trees around the house were cut down.

 

It is tragic that all the contaminated soil from my property had to be buried in my yard after decontamination. Now the contaminated soil from the decontamination of streets or parks is to be buried in the athletic field or parks.

 

In addition, there are no signs that warn of dangerous tasks being carried out, merely signs saying “Decontamination work”, while the burying of soil goes on.

There is an article in the Fukushima Minyu newspaper reporting that Koriyama city will set up “temporary storage” of contaminated soil from the decontamination of streets, at the site of the Prefectural Agricultural Center in the Takakura district of Hiwada Town, Koriyama City.

It is heart-wrenching for me to see that children on their way to school must pass large areas of contaminated soil, only covered by blue vinyl sheets.

Ground storage is being planned.

That article almost made me desperate, thinking of the plight of the parents in the Takakura district.

 

A man in his 50s who lives in Takakura district commented on the article:

“I think that the volume of storage maybe is not excessive so I don’t worry a lot, but we should be given more information. I just wish they’d have firmer management”.

That makes me wonder how much information Koriyama City is withholding from its residents.

Incidentally there has been no briefing of the residents regarding the temporary storage in Kaiseizan Park of contaminated soil.

 

One thing Koriyama city has not yet announced is that the present temporary storage sites are not sufficient, so there are undisclosed plans to designate more temporary storage areas around the city in the future.

Koriyama city is planning to use national and prefecturally owned land in the same way as the Takakura district is being used.

 

I’ll be reporting in three installments about the “Temporary storage of contaminated soil“, as given by different kinds of media during the past holiday season.

 

(Text translated from Japanese to English by WNSCR team. Photos provided by Masa)

 

Photos: Burying site in NIshonmatsu-city, Fukushima (Top 2 pictures).  The pictures below are taken in Iitate villege. Bags are left in front of a house. 

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