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Tokyo Gov. Koike declares Toyosu wholesale market safe for Oct. debut

The Toyosu wholesale market complex in Tokyo's Koto Ward is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- The relocation site for the historic Tsukiji fish market, the Toyosu market in the capital's Koto Ward, has been deemed safe by experts, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike announced on July 31.

Koike's announcement that "the conditions to open a market that is both safe and puts all at ease have been met," was the "safety declaration" that wholesalers and other operators have been waiting for to eliminate the damage done to the reputation of the new Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market after various scandals including contamination of the soil beneath the new installation. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government now plans to apply to the minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries for permission to open the market soon, aiming for the planned debut date of Oct. 11.

In August 2016, Gov. Koike postponed the move of the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo's Chuo Ward to the new facility in Toyosu, citing "questions about the safety" of the new complex. The following month, it was discovered that the specified layer of soil to protect the facility from the chemical-contaminated ground on which the market was built was not laid beneath the structure, and in January 2017, levels of the toxic chemical benzene as much as 79 times the concentration under the government-set environmental standards were detected in the groundwater, among other contaminants. The wholesale market was built on land that previously belonged to Tokyo Gas Co.

To deal with the contamination issues, the metropolitan government laid a layer of concrete in the space under the building to prevent the toxic substances from rising up into the facility, along with other prevention measures. On July 30, a Tokyo Metropolitan Government panel of experts reached the conclusion that the safety of the market facility had been secured.

Even now, there are still some locations where the concentration of benzene in groundwater is 170 times that of environmental standards, but the levels of toxic chemicals in the air above ground have fallen to within standard concentrations.

(Japanese original by Kentaro Mori, City News Department)

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