Soil experts to review safety at controversial new Tokyo fish market

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 September, 2016, 3:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 September, 2016, 10:52pm

A panel of experts on soil contamination countermeasures at the planned new fish market in Tokyo’s Toyosu waterfront area said on Saturday they will review whether the facility is safe, as it does not have a sufficient soil base for pollution prevention as intended under the initial plan.

“As the precondition that a soil base should be created beneath the buildings has changed, we will assess the current situation and reassess safety,” Tatemasa Hirata, head of the Open University of Japan’s Wakayama branch, who chaired the panel, told reporters at the metropolitan government office.

Concerns about soil contamination have put off the plan to move the ageing Tsukiji market, which opened in 1935 in the Japanese capital’s Chuo Ward to the new site in Koto Ward, as the new site sits on land where Tokyo Gas Company used to operate a gas production plant.

The panel of experts had advised covering the whole site with a soil layer totaling 4.5 metres deep. But because underground pipes and hard-wiring were necessary for the main buildings, the government retracted the plan without notifying the experts.

Asked about the timing of a conclusion on the safety assessment, Hirata said, “We will solve the problems one by one. We can’t predict when to draw a conclusion.”

New Tokyo governor postpones plan to move iconic Tsukiji fish market

He also said it is now difficult to build up a soil base under the facility, but the experts will consider that option as well as part of contamination countermeasures.

Meanwhile, the metropolitan government said on Saturday it found a small amount of arsenic and hexavalent chromium that are below environment standards beneath buildings at the Toyosu site.

Hirata said “there is no problem [with safety” as it showed a permissible level of toxic chemicals.