Nearly Half of Asbestos Sites in Japan Left Untreated

Of more than one million public and private facilities in Japan that have been inspected since 2005, the Japanese government reports that more than forty percent of those pegged as dangerous due to asbestos have done little or nothing to remedy the situation.

An article on Asahi.com points out that the inspected facilities have failed to correct their problems largely due to the high cost of asbestos removal in Japan. Earlier this week, the internal affairs ministry urged the infrastructure ministry and other government agencies to take appropriate action, such as expanding the number of municipalities receiving subsidies to pay for asbestos removal.

During the last year and a half, the government has conducted follow-ups on nearly 400 particularly hazardous sites and found that 36 of those still pose significant asbestos dangers, including the potential release of airborne asbestos fibers.

“Among the 36 facilities, 15 have done nothing to prevent asbestos exposure, such as closing off areas where the fire-resistant material remains,” states the article.

The primary reason cited by respondents for inaction is the high cost of asbestos removal, a recent survey found.
“Removal costs about 60 million yen,” said a parking lot operator in Kagawa Prefecture. “We cannot afford to pay that.”

“There is no risk of asbestos becoming airborne because the area where asbestos is used is swept regularly with a broom,” said an official at a hotel in Hokkaido, not realizing that the very act of sweeping could cause fibers to become airborne.

Officials of the internal affairs ministry complained the scope of the infrastructure ministry survey was too limited. It should have covered at least 2 million sites and included smaller facilities, they said.

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