KASHIWA, Chiba — The city of Kashiwa in Chiba Prefecture decided Sept. 30 to suspend operations at one of its two incineration plants due to high levels of radioactive substances following the crisis at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The city says the Nambu Clean Center will suspend its operations for the time being due to higher levels of radiation than the national landfill level of 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

The move is believed to mark for the first time in Japan that a waste disposal facility will halt operations due to nuclear contamination, and the Environment Ministry says it has no record of such a suspension.

While the Nambu Clean Center is equipped with a new incinerator, the city says, the other incineration factory is old and radiation levels are below the national level even if it burns the same amount of garbage as the new one and produces a larger amount of incinerated ash. As a result, city officials said, the old incineration plant will also burn garbage from the Nambu Clean Center.

The Nambu Clean Center halted its operations on Sept. 7 for a regular check of its incinerator. Incinerated ash at the center contained a maximum 70,800 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram in June. The center has already stored 134 tons of incinerated ash, which cannot be disposed of by landfill, and it only can accommodate such ash for 30 more days.

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