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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 31 - August 6  > Linear motor Shinkansen project company hides detection of uranium in soil excavated during tunnel construction
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2019 July 31 - August 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Linear motor Shinkansen project company hides detection of uranium in soil excavated during tunnel construction

August 5, 2019

Akahata on August 5 reported that Central Japan Railway Company (JR Tokai) did not disclose the fact that traces of uranium were detected multiple times from soil excavated from a tunnel for the linear motor train project.

Uranium was found in soil excavated from the Hiyoshi tunnel construction in Gifu Prefecture. This region is known to have one of the largest deposits of uranium in Japan. Accordingly, local residents had expressed concern about the tunnel construction there.

According to information Akahata obtained from the Gifu prefectural government through information disclosure requests, uranium was found in soil samples on May 30 and June 5, 2018, and the concentration was 5.3 and 5.0 micrograms per gram, respectively. The documents show the analysis results of soil samples taken between May 30 and July 10, 2018. These are the latest data available to the public.

JR Tokai, the operator of the linear motor Shinkansen project, attaches little importance to the detection of uranium, claiming that the readings of concentration were way below the company-set standards of 77 micrograms per gram. The railway company treated the uranium-containing soil just like ordinary soil and did not make public the detection of uranium.

A man living near the tunnel construction site said, “I’m afraid that if the tunnel construction continues, it might run into a deposit of uranium that could produce a large amount of surplus soil with a high uranium concentration. We, residents have heard nothing about how they plan to deal with uranium-containing soil. The tunnel construction should be stopped.”

Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Motomura Nobuko in March 2016 at a House Land Committee meeting asked about measures to dispose of uranium-containing soil from the liner motor train project. A Land Ministry official replied that concerning uranium concentration and other monitoring results of excavated soil, JR Tokai will inform local governments of these data and provide any necessary information to residents by holding briefing sessions.

JR Tokai explained that surplus soil with high uranium concentration will not go to a normal disposal site. However, the linear motor car project operator did not go into further details about disposal measures, just saying that the company will consult experts and parties concerned.

Former vice president of the Japan Association on the Environmental Studies Sakamaki Yukio, who studied the uranium deposits in Gifu as a researcher of the government’s geology research center, said, “The amount of uranium detected from soil excavated from the ongoing tunnel works in Gifu is small. However, JR Tokai should share every detail concerning the construction with local governments and residents in order to win their trust.”

Past related articles:
> Behind linear Shinkansen project lies cosy ties between Abe and railway company heavyweight [January 6, 2018]
> 4 scandal-tainted maglev contractors donated 272 million yen to LDP [December 20, 2017]
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