New trash incinerators disallowed in high dioxin areas.
The Health and Welfare Ministry informed Japan's 47 prefectures Friday that it will not allow new garbage incinerators to be built in areas where airborne dioxin concentrations exceed specified limits, ministry officials said. The ministry has reinforced its measures against dioxin pollution from facilities for burning industrial waste and household trash to avoid having many garbage incinerators concentrated in one region, the officials said. While the ministry has imposed restrictions on dioxin emissions for individual incinerators, it decided to add a wider area control, noting that having a number of such facilities situated close to one another -- even if each has cleared the limit -- is not environmentally sound. The latest restriction is expected to put pressure on the prefectural governments, which have the authority to approve new garbage disposal facilities, to become more aware of information regarding airborne dioxin concentration levels. The problem of numerous incinerators concentrated in a single area became an issue in February when a television news program reported that high dioxin levels were detected in farm produce originating from Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, where there are many garbage incinerators. Dioxins are carcinogenic chemical compounds produced when plastic and other chemical products are burned at low temperatures. In late March, a ministerial committee on dioxins adopted basic guidelines for measures aimed at cutting Japan's overall dioxin emissions by 90% from 1997 levels within the next four years. The health ministry's notice, which is based on the government's guidelines, urges the prefectures to reject plans to construct new incinerators in areas where the annual average level of airborne dioxins exceeds 0.8 picogram per cubic meter, ministry officials said. A picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.
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|Publication:||Japan Weekly Monitor|
|Date:||May 3, 1999|
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