Monday, September 12, 2011

Just When You Thought

It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water

Somehow I'm drawn like a magnet to this little metallic statue that stands atop Tokyo's Hamamatsucho train station. At least once a month I make a pilgrimage to the station platform where I visit this cast metal homage to the peeing boy, marvel at his cute new outfit and then snap his picture. This month he is decked out in the uniform of Marine Rescue Japan, an association dedicated to saving the lives of drowning swimmers and others who may find themselves in aquatic peril.

This week residents of Temple Valley are concerned about a water-borne danger of a more atomic nature. Over the past six months radioactive substances released into the environment from the leaking nuclear reactors in Fukushima have found their way into Yokohama city's sewerage system in the form of radioactive sludge. So far the city has been incinerating the sludge. While this process  sounds like it could pose some risk to human health and the environment, local residents seem to have been kept largely in the dark about it. Outside of some scant coverage about the city's September 9 announcement regarding plans to dump the ash that appeared on the local pages of a couple of major dailies, there has been little to no public discussion of the issue. The incineration process, harmful or not, is designed to reduce the sludge to a less bulky ash that can then be safely stored away at two separate facilities located in Yokohama's Tsurumi and Kanazawa wards. Now, after running out of places to store the radioactive ash, the city that is home to the "Port of the Future" (minato mirai) has come up with a bold new plan: dump it in the bay

Is there anyone who can save us? 

Read more about Yokohama's plan to begin dumping radioactive waste in its harbor this Thursday on the Ex-SKF blog.


The dumping will occur just days ahead of an upcoming international triathlon to be held in Yokohama (one third of which will of course take place in the water).

Update (9/14)

Thanks to the valiant efforts of citizens and lawmakers, Yokohama City has decided to postpone their planned dump into the bay and hold a public hearing before attempting to do so in the future. 

Related post: Hot Spots

1 comment:

  1. I understand one of the reasons why Yokohama had run out of storage space for this radioactive ash is that their major outlet channel for it had dried up. The neighboring city of Kawasaki had previously been taking the stuff off Yokohama's hands and using it presumably for landfills, etc. Once they stopped taking it, much like Tokyo, Yokohama turned to the Homer Simpson playbook and decided to dump it in the bay.
    While everybody is now asking the mayor of Yokohama about the dumping, I'm wondering where they incinerated the sludge and what risk incineration has posed to local residents.