Present illegal dumping site in Teshima of trigger for recycling society #1

2015/06/12

Kagawa prefectural Teshima is an island floating in the Seto Naikai*, where a huge volume of industrial wastes (mainly automotive shredder residues) had been illegally dumped between 1975 and 1980s.
Twenty-five years have already passed since the fact became known. I visited the island on June 5 with the members of Hiroshima Resources Recycling Project.
*The inland sea surrounded by Honshu (mainland), Shikoku and Kyushu.

photoAs the Teshima incident called to be the biggest illegal dumping case since the end of World War II started to be reported as a news event for general interest in the late 1990s, the small island came under the spotlight.
I personally think that the news report would have hit a peak in June 2000 when Kagawa Prefecture and the Teshima islanders accepted the pollution mediation in June 2000.
The island became a symbolic place to ponder national problems of the environment partly thanks to then-lawyer Kohei Nakabo. Many visitors including the prime minister and the Minister of the Environment of the day constantly visited the island.
In fact, laws regulating waste dumping and recycling were developed one after another and penalties were significantly stiffened from 2000 in response to this incident.
On the contrary, Mr. M., one of the concerned parties from Teshima Sogo Kanko Kaihatsu Co., Ltd. was fined only unbelievably light fine (JPY 500,000) due to lack of the extended producer responsibilities at that time. He still lives in a characteristic house near the site.
Also, the dealer who had brought shredder residues (hereinafter referred to as SD) into the island has continued scrap recycling business without losing the permission or authorization under the slogan of “for the earth”, which is quite unique in a sense.
Admitting that the concerned parties couldn’t be accused of crimes under the law of the day, honestly speaking, it’s quite frustrating.
It’s never heard that those parties have ever paid the local residents some money in recompense.
Probably, aberrant land fill and disposal had continued even after the incident gotten a lot of coverage till 2000 when the laws were prepared. Major companies may have been concerned with such an illegal dumping. Industrial wastes dumped several decades ago may have been buried under the factories built there. Inappropriate recycling treatment, which has become an issue in China at the moment, had also been done in Japan a short while ago.

Currently, however, the Teshima incident is fading with time. The population of the island has dropped below 1,000 due to out migration and aging. Fewer people know the incident and not a few of those who know it or battled against the prefecture and dealers don’t want to mention the incident.

The treatment is still going on now
While the incident is fading now, illegally dumped wastes have continued to be treated at the site.
Detoxifying and recycling process of illegally dumped waste and contaminated soil was started at Teshima in 2003. The treatment was originally planned to finish 3 years ago, but its period was extended for another 5 years because the wastes increased to 920,000 tons from the initially estimated 600,000 tons. More than 700,000 tons of wastes finished to be treated so far, but the remainder has to be treated within 2 years.
According to Mr. Kenji Goto, General Manager at Kagawa Naoshima JA office and Teshima KS office of Kubota Environmental Service Co., Ltd. to which Kagawa Prefecture has consigned the waste disposal business, “Total project costs increased to JPY 79 billion from the originally estimated JPY 49 billion, which are borne by the Japanese government and Kagawa Prefecture on halves. The waste disposal accounts for 1-2% of Kagawa Prefecture’s tax source.”

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At Teshima Island, wastes are dug, controlled, sorted, loaded on container trucks and then sent to Naoshima Island. Initially, an intermediate treatment facility was planned to build in Teshima, but it was constructed on the premises of Mitsubishi Material Corporation’s refinery factory in Naoshima to which the wastes are transported by sea using a Nippon Express’s special ship. Only the ocean transport costs are JPY 5 billion over ten years. Further costs are needed due to expansion of the treatment period.
I was stunned by the layer thickness when standing at the site in Teshima. As the industrial waste dumping continued for 15 years, the field is made up of layers upon layers of wastes like an archaeological site. In fact, wastes were “unearthed” one after another by Kubota Environment Company’s digging operation.

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The site is quite arranged now, but industrial wastes are said to have been piled up to the level of the bare hillside seen in the above picture around 2003 when the treatment started. When imaging the scenery, I just had to be staggered by the tremendous volume.
The parties concerned in the illegal dumping had continued to make a defiant excuse at that time saying, “We are depositing not industrial wastes but valuable metals”. It was a fact that some of the unearthed wastes became valuable as the recyclable materials prices rose later. However, it’s nothing more than disadvantage considering huge processing costs and tax burden incurred so far. I can’t help but be filled with resentment against the concerned parties. As can be seen from the example of Teshima, industrial wastes treatment needs a huge cost. So, few sites treat the negative legacies as properly as at Teshima.

Polluted soil accounts for 50% with the remainder comprising SD, rocks, metals and etc. in the site of Teshima.
Firstly, wastes are divided into the dirt doped with a melting auxiliary agent (calcium carbonate or calcined lime) and the piles of SD. Then, the dirt and the SD are mixed, cured for 2 days to prevent hydrogen generation, bundled onto the ship and sent to Naoshima Island by sea.

photoIt takes 40 minitues to reach Naoshima Island by the special ship, which makes a round trip twice a day accommodating 18 trucks which can carry a load of 9.5t., that is, the total load will be 350t a day. The ship operates 220 days a year, so it means to carry 77,000t a year. According to Mr. Goto, the intermediate treatment facility in Naoshima operates 330 days on average a year, so it processes 115,500t of wastes a year.

An intermediate treatment facility in Teshima would have made treatment speed faster and costs lower. A new industry could have been created on the deserted island where the population has continued to decrease.
When the waste treatment is over, what would become of the island which doesn’t have even a convenience store?
Not only waste treatment but also soil restoration is required in Teshima.

Next article will cover the intermediate treatment in Naoshima Island.

[Edited By O.Sasaki]

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