Sendai, the biggest city in the region, sorted debris as it was collected and sealed the surfaces of areas used to store debris for processing to protect the groundwater, thanks to technical advice from its sister-city Kyoto, home to many experts who advised the government in its cleanup of the 1995 earthquake in the Kobe-Osaka area that killed more than 6,400 people.
But Ishinomaki, a city of more than 160,000, collected its debris first and is only gradually sorting and processing it, said the U.S.-educated Nakayama, who worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before returning to Japan.
“There were no technical experts there for the waste management side,” he said. “They did some good work with chemical monitoring but in total, risk assessment, risk management, unfortunately they did not have that expertise.”
Ultimately, just as they are choosing to live with contamination from chemicals and other toxins, the authorities may have to reconsider their determination to completely clean up the radiation, given the effort’s cost and limited effectiveness, experts say.
Regarding the nuclear accident, “there has been so much emphasis on decontamination that no other options were considered,” said Hiroshi Suzuki, a professor emeritus at Tohoku University in Sendai and chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Reconstruction Committee.
Some places, such as playgrounds, obviously must be cleaned up. But others, such as forests, should just be left alone, since gathering or burning radioactive materials concentrates them – the opposite of what is needed since the more diluted they are, the better.
To a certain extent, policy is being dictated by politics, said Suzuki.<< previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 next >>