Short-term Recovery Activities in Japan

Asbestos

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From the Herald Sun of Australia. April 27, 2011,  some details on the debris removal process and a novel idea for use of debris.

Japanese workers face threats from asbestos, dioxins in clean-up. JAPANESE workers tackling the Herculean task of clearing millions of tonnes of debris from last month’s earthquake and tsunami also face health risks from asbestos and dioxins. The destruction wrought by the March 11 calamity is so enormous that just removing the rubble is expected to take years.

Clearing away an estimated 25 million tonnes of wreckage is a vital step in allowing victims to move on after the disaster, which left more than 14,500 dead and 11,500 missing in Japan’s worst catastrophe since World War II. “This is an enormous task,” said Matoko Iokibe, chairman of the Reconstruction Design Council which advises the prime minister, and who suggested the rubble could be turned into landscaped hills.

“In normal times people would be able to use these parks for recreation,” he said. “During disasters, they would be used as evacuation zones.” Most workers now struggling through the sea of toppled trucks, twisted steel and tortured concrete wear face masks to protect themselves as best they can from inhaling toxic and carcinogenic asbestos-laden dust. “The biggest concerns are dirt, sand and building dust that can be inhaled and cause abnormalities in the lungs,” said Sendai city official Tetsuo Ishii.

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