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Residents file suit to block burning of radiation-tainted waste

Residents of Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, head to the Sendai District Court on Oct. 11, 2018, to file a lawsuit seeking to prevent a local public association from burning radiation-tainted waste generated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. (Kyodo)

SENDAI (Kyodo) -- Residents in northeastern Japan filed a lawsuit on Thursday seeking to prevent a local public association from burning radiation-tainted waste generated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The city of Osaki in Miyagi Prefecture, north of Fukushima, has been keeping some 6,000 tons of tainted grass and rice straw that contain radioactive substances below state standards, and the association in charge of waste disposal is scheduled to start burning it from Monday.

The residents filed the suit with the Sendai District Court in the hope of suspending the 21.6 million yen ($193,000) budget for the incineration, claiming the association has failed to keep an agreement that it would alleviate residents' concerns.

"The agreement was a strong message that we would protect the environment for future generations," said 79-year-old Tadaetsu Abe, who heads the group of plaintiffs. "The public administration has ignored the residents' wishes."

The association declined to comment, saying it has not seen the plaintiffs' claim.

The Fukushima Daiichi power plant, hit by a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, suffered meltdowns of its reactors and spewed radioactive materials into the air, contaminating wide areas.

The waste temporarily stored in Osaki contains radioactive substances of up to 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. Each municipality is responsible for radioactive waste disposal.

Some 170 residents opposed to the incineration have requested an audit of the city's budget on the waste disposal, but it was rejected as of Sept. 13.

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