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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 January 11 - 17  > Benzene 79 times higher than legal limit detected in Tokyo’s proposed new fish market site
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2017 January 11 - 17 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Benzene 79 times higher than legal limit detected in Tokyo’s proposed new fish market site

January 15, 2017
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has announced that it detected high levels of toxic chemicals in water samples taken from the groundwater at the planned fish market site in Toyosu. One of the samples contained benzene 79 times higher than the national government-set upper limit.

Since 2014, the metropolitan government has tested the water at 201 monitoring wells at the Toyosu site, which used to be a Tokyo Gas chemical plant site. The results of the latest tests were reported on January 14 to a meeting of the experts panel on the relocation of the Tsukiji fish market to Toyosu.

The metropolitan government report shows that the concentration level of benzene exceeded the maximum allowable amount (no more than 0.01 ml per litter) in 38 out of the 201 wells and the highest reading was 0.79 ml, 79 times higher than the safe environment standards set by the national government. Cyanides, which should not exist in samples, were found in 39 wells. The levels of arsenic in 22 wells also surpassed the maximum permissible environmental standards.

In the meeting, panel members expressed their surprise and confusion over the test results because these results contradicted the results from previous tests.

The expert panel chair, Hirata Tatemasa, pointed to the possibility that groundwater already polluted the fresh soil that had been added to the Toyosu site as part of soil decontamination measures.

Nakazawa Makoto, the chair of the Tokyo central wholesales market workers union, said that as shown in the latest test results, many parts of the planned market site are still polluted and that decontamination efforts have failed. Hata Akio, former president of the Japan Association on the Environmental Studies, said that the fresh soil introduced to the site was probably contaminated by the groundwater. He urged the Tokyo government to re-examine the soil at the planned market.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government had planned to relocate the Tsukiji fish market to the Toyosu site in November 2016, but it suspended the relocation because the decontamination measures themselves were found to have serious problems. Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko plans to decide on whether to continue with the relocation project by summer. The latest results underscore the need for a drastic reconsideration of the project.

Past related article:
> Tokyo governor postpones relocation of Tsukiji fish market [September 1, 2016]
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