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The new Tsukiji market. (Image: Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market)

Toxic chemical detection delays Tsukiji fish market relocation

Click on the flag for more information about Japan JAPAN
Saturday, October 01, 2016, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

The detection of two toxic chemicals in groundwater samples from Tokyo’s Toyosu area, where Tsukiji fish market is planned to be relocated, has led Government authorities to decide to postpone its move.

The Toyosu market, located in Koto Ward, is expected to replace the current Tsukiji fish market in Chuo Ward. However, it was found that soil in the compound of the new market is contaminated with toxic substances because of a Tokyo Gas Co. plant that formerly occupied the area.

Due to the presence of these chemicals -- benzene and arsenic -- at levels that are slightly above the government-set environmental standards, Tokyo’s authorities need extra time to address safety concerns over the new market site, Japan Today reported.

The announcement was followed by revelations that the Tokyo government had failed to conduct measures it had said it was doing to deal with the soil contamination issue.

Government’s representatives ensure it is the first time that toxic substances have been found exceeding the standards. They said similar surveys had been conducted seven times since November 2014, when the Tokyo government claimed it had finished taking steps to deal with soil contamination caused by the area previously hosting a gas production plant.

A panel of experts will assess the groundwater data, but they believe that the chemicals have no direct impact on human beings, given the amount detected is small.

For his part, Kohei Urano, a professor emeritus of environmental safety at Yokohama National University, said it would only pose a hazard if fish were washed in the groundwater, The Asahi Shimbun informed.

“As people do not drink the groundwater or wash fish with it, there will be no problems even if the concentrations exceeded environmental standards," he said. "As benzene easily vaporizes, there is a possibility that it will leak into the air above the ground. But it will attenuate there. As the concentrations (of the detected substances) are not serious, they will be safe in the air.”

However, he added, “In order to remove the concerns of the public, the metropolitan government will have to offer an explanation in a proper manner.”

Related article:

Tsukiji fish market relocation postponed



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