From the Japan News – full article with picture at http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002031113
Radioactive waste left in limbo / Local authorities avoid filing paperwork for 3,600 tons
More than 3,600 tons of radioactive waste has not been designated as emitting radiation at levels above the national standard because municipal authorities have avoided submitting applications to the central government, according to research by the Environment Ministry.
At least 3,648 tons of radioactive waste has not been properly designated in five prefectures, including Miyagi Prefecture. The waste was generated by the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Municipal governments must apply for designation by the central government, but they are concerned about shouldering the responsibility of storing the waste and becoming subject to harmful rumors. However, experts say that submitting applications for designation is a necessity, due to concern over the spread of radioactive contamination.
The volume of waste that had not been so designated — despite radiation levels exceeding national standards — was 2,711 tons in Miyagi, 710 tons in Iwate, 113 tons in Saitama, and lower volumes in two other prefectures.
“The burden is too big for cities to manage by ourselves,” said an official of the city government of Kurihara, Miyagi Prefecture, which has 974 tons of rice straw with radioactivity levels exceeding the national standard.
An official of Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture said, “Once we receive designation, harmful rumors like ‘That city or area is dangerous’ will spread, and people might hesitate to buy their farm products.” Ichinoseki has not submitted applications regarding 640 tons of waste.
An official in charge of Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecure, said, “We talk to farmers about whether to apply, but they might not want to reveal the existence of rice straw that has radiation levels exceeding the national standard.” Takahagi has not submitted applications for 0.4 tons of waste.
An official of the Kurihara city government said, “The disadvantages of receiving the designation outweigh [the advantages] under the present circumstances.”
However, the town of Wakuya, Miyagi Prefecture, intends to submit applications next fiscal year for 270 tons of waste currently stored at farms in the town.
“Farmers may express fears over harmful rumors, but it’s safer to receive the designation and have the town manage [the waste] responsibly,” an official of the town government said.