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Bags of radioactive waste swept away after river in Fukushima village overflows


(Mainichi)  At least 82 large bags filled with radioactive waste from decontamination efforts were washed away when a river overflowed in the Fukushima prefectural village of Iitate, which was entirely evacuated following the March 2011 nuclear disaster, the Ministry of the Environment announced on Sept. 11.

While 37 of the bags — each of which had a volume of 1 cubic meter — were later recovered, the heavy machinery used for the retrieval operation was unable to enter certain areas due to flooding, making the recovery of the remaining bags difficult.

Ministry officials said the bags contained grass and tree parts from decontamination work at places including local farmland. No evidence of leaks of the waste has been found.

The bags were being kept outdoors at the locations where the decontamination took place so that they could later be transported to a temporary storage facility. However, they were swept away in the river current between the evening of Sept. 10 and the morning of Sept. 11 due to flooding in areas including the Niida River. Ministry officials learned about the incident after Iitate village officials reported it at around 6 a.m. on Sept. 11.

Mudslides and flooding damage were also confirmed at five locations in Iitate and the prefectural town of Kawamata where the decontamination waste is temporarily being stored, but there has been no evidence regarding leakage of the waste.