MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) – The Japanese government is extending the deadline for the completion of Fukushima decontamination until 2017, amid slow progress in the cleanup process, The Japan Times reported Monday.
"The government initially hoped to complete the decontamination by the end of last March, but the process continues to lag far behind, prompting the government to push back the goal by three years to 2017," The Japan Times reported.
"Due to the slow progress, huge bags filled with contaminated soil can still be seen piled up at hundreds of temporary storage sites across the prefecture, and many residents are in limbo, unable to make up their minds about whether to return home in the near future or to relocate for good," the newspaper adds.
According to The Japan Times, the main reason why the Fukushima decontamination process is taking so long is a lack of temporary storage sites that would be used until the Japanese government builds more permanent facilities for storing contaminated waste.
On March 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was hit by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, which caused a partial meltdown of three of the plant's nuclear reactors. The radiation from the plant leaked into the atmosphere, soil and sea.
The incident is the world's worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl catastrophe of 1986. Full liquidation of its consequences is expected to take about 40 years.
The liquidators working at Fukushima are employed by multiple subcontracting organizations, but according to Japanese law, the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), is responsible for covering the cost of decontamination work.
Japan's central government is responsible for decontaminating evacuation zones in 11 of the country's municipalities, where annual radiation levels exceed 20 millisieverts.
Municipal authorities are responsible for cleanup operation in the less contaminated areas in 40 municipalities, where annual radiation dosages range between 1 and 20 millisieverts.