TOKYO – The Japanese government announced Wednesday it will recycle the material collected during the decontamination of the Fukushima nuclear plant for construction purposes if radiation levels are found to be sufficiently low.
The government plans to store the waste collected from the radiation-affected region and use it as construction material in places outside the prefecture in northeastern Japan, within 30 years, reported state broadcaster NHK.
According to the country’s environment ministry, residue showing less than 8,000 becquerel per kg could be used in future to pave roads, build anti-tsunami walls and in other public works.
Over 90 percent of the material, accumulated since the 2011 disaster, could be re-used if the contaminated elements are removed, according to the authorities, who are, however, yet to develop the technology to separate waste with high radiation levels.
Currently, Fukushima authorities store the radioactive waste at two depots close to the plant, which can store up to 30 million tons.
The waste will remain at these storage sites for the next 30 years, to be later transferred to a definitive storage place, whose location remains to be determined, and to be used in public works if cleared of high radiation levels.
The Fukushima crisis has been the worst nuclear accident in history after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.
The nuclear plant, which suffered a meltdown in the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the country on March 11, 2011, is now being dismantled, a task that will take at least four decades to complete.