(UPDATE) Kitakyushu City is burning it now, on Monday September 17, which is a holiday in Japan (Respect the Elderly Day, no joke). Looking at TV Tokyo News, it certainly does not look anything like "wood chips".
Does that make sense? Yes it does. Kajima, one of the largest general contractors in Japan, got the job of transporting the debris by sea for a handsome 2 billion yen (US$25.5 million), and the mayor of Kitakyushu City can tell the residents that the cash-strapped city of his will get 620 million yen from Miyagi Prefecture (who will bill the national government, who will bill the Japanese citizens/residents), according to Mr. Yushi Yokota, Communist Party assemblyman in the Miyagi prefectural assembly.
After all, Kitakyushu City has been prepping the city's children, telling them how wonderfully safe and clean it is to burn the debris. This kind of effort should not be wasted.
Here's Asahi Shinbun's video footage. The container ship that carried 800 tonnes of disaster debris from Miyagi arrived at the port in Kitakyushu City in the morning of September 13, 2012:
The containers carried flammable debris, mostly wood chips carefully sorted and washed, from Ishinomaki City in Miyagi, or that's how it was sold to the Kitakyushu City residents.
Well, not quite. A blog called "Kyushu Sunflower Project" by people against accepting and burning debris in kitakyushu City has this photo in one of their posts. When one of the containers was opened, this is what they found. Does it look like "wood chips" to you? Does it look like they were carefully sorted and washed to you?
The blogpost adds one more piece of information that should alarm the residents of Kitakyushu. Debris from Onagawa-cho, Miyagi was mixed in with that of Ishinomaki. Onagawa's debris is much more contaminated than that of Ishinomaki. (For the degree of contamination of disaster debris in Miyagi and Iwate, see my post from March 24, 2012.)
There is also an allegation of "double-counting" of disaster debris from Ishinomaki. As it turns out that there is far less debris than originally estimated, there is not enough to go around. So what does the enterprising governor of Miyagi do? Double-count. Kajima's joint venture had won the contract to process all the disaster debris in Ishinomaki last year. That should have been the end of it. No debris to give to anyone else. But miraculously, for Kitakyushu City, the debris somehow materialized, and Goshi Hosono's Ministry of the Environment will make sure it will get burned and money be paid to Kajima and Kitakyushu City.
The blog "Kyushu Sunflower Project" has a cartoon titled "There was no debris left", explaining this double-counting. The cartoon also has an incredible piece of information - the temporary housing for people in the city who lost their homes in the tsunami of March 11, 2011 was built right next to the debris piles. What's more, Ishinomaki City does have a landfill in the mountain on the east side of the city, and it is empty.
What were they thinking? (Maybe they WERE thinking well, to use this as a tool to pressure the municipalities outside Miyagi to accept contaminated debris for the sake of these poor residents...)
(Cartoon continues at the link.)