TOKYO, June 30 (Xinhua) — Japan’s Ministry of the Environment approved Thursday guidelines of reusing contaminated soil from the Fukushima nuclear disaster for national public works despite public concerns over safety.
According to the guidelines, Japan would allow tainted soil generated from the Fukushima decontamination work with the radioactive cesium level lower than a certain limit varying from 5,000 to 8,000 becquerels per kilogram according to different uses, to be reused in national public works.
The tainted soil, while reused, shall be covered with clean earth, concrete or other materials, so as to make the amount of radiation sustained by residents living nearby less than 0.01 mSv a year after the construction is completed, according to the guidelines.
The reuse is aimed to cut the amount of radioactive soil from Fukushima disaster to be shipped to other prefectures for final disposal, according to the ministry.
The decision was made despite public concerns that contaminated materials would still leach out as roads or other public works in which the tainted soil is used might decay or collapse during earthquakes, floods or other national disasters or fail over time.
Earlier estimates by a working group of the ministry showed that it would take as long as 170 years before the soil’s radiation levels drop to legal safety standards, while public works such as roads are often durable for just 70 years.
Under the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors, the safety standards for reusing materials generated from the Fukushima decontamination work are less than 100 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram.