Interim Storage Facilities and Site Investigations

Ōkuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture

Interim storage facilities zone and distribution of sites  The area within Ōkuma Town of the planned interim storage facilities zone is 11 square kilometers. This includes 27 locations of archaeological sites. This map was revised and prepared by the Ōkuma Town Board of Education with approval from the Ministry of the Environment. Adapted from Hakkutsu sareta Nihon rettō 2019 [Excavations in the Japanese Archipelago, 2019] (Bunkachō [Agency for Cultural Affairs], ed., Kyodo News, 2019).

Interim storage facilities under construction (photographed in March 2019)

Excavation at the Nashikidaira site  View of the investigation of a Nara period pit-dwelling. Excavators wear helmets, and due to heightened levels of radiation, utilize masks and gloves, in addition to white protective clothing.

Residents’ return will be 30 years after the start of storage
A zone of land, lying in the towns of Ōkuma and Futaba and surrounding the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, has been designated for the maintenance of interim facilities for the safe and concentrated storage of contaminated soil and waste products, during the time required for the decontamination and final disposal of these materials. The total area planned for these interim storage facilities covers 16 square kilometers (340 times the size of Tokyo Dome), of which 11 square kilometers lie within Ōkuma Town. In October 2018, the first soil separation facility was completed in the Ottozawa district, and deliveries of contaminated soil began.

Not all of the former residents of Ōkuma have yet returned, and it is presumed that return to locations within the zone designated for the interim storage facilities will not be possible for 30 years following the start of storage, when treatment of the soil and waste products is complete and a place for the final disposal of these materials has been readied outside the prefecture.

Preservation and transmission of cultural properties within the interim storage area
Within the area planned for the interim storage facilities, there were 25 locations previously known of buried cultural properties (archaeological sites) in Ōkuma Town alone. Beginning from the 2015 fiscal year, an archaeological site survey was carried out within the planned area by the Ministry of the Environment and the Boards of Education of Fukushima Prefecture and Ōkuma Town, and along with discovering two new sites, detailed test excavations were carried out, and full-scale excavations and data recording were conducted for sites that will be lost due to construction. In addition, there are considerable amounts of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, and problems regarding the extent to which these can be salvaged, recorded, and transmitted to the future are currently under consideration. (Narita Yutaka)