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Communities still argue over where to put new waste plant

Date Posted: 2005-12-01

Everybody agrees the new waste treatment plant is needed to serve southern Okinawa communities.

The trouble is, nobody wants it in their backyard.

Communities have been feuding for months over where to locate the controversial, yet essential, waste treatment plant that is long overdue. The plant is supposed to be built in one of four southern communities; Tomishiro City, Kochinda, Ozato Village and Haebaru Town are supposed to have worked out an agreement on exactly what would be built, and where. The answer confronting leaders in each community is the same.

“No, not in my city, please.” “No, not in my town.” “No, not my village.” That leaves planners stympied and scrambling at a Nov. 27th symposium, where the supervisor for the Southern District Waste Disposal Facility told a dire story. Rubbish and garbage is piling up, impacting the lives of 220,000 citizens. Four hundred residents turned out to demand each district’s mayor should be strong and bold enough to take the leadership role in getting the facility built.

Tomishiro City Mayor Houmei Kinjo says “we know we need the facility, but still we need to have the residents agree on where to build it.” Naha City mayor Takeshi Onaga traced the problem back nearly five years. “When I was elected mayor, there was a big problem. The waste disposal treatment center’s operation was not being done the right way, but finally residents and the Naha City Office agreed to have reform,” he says. “Once we did that, everything went well.”

Choichi Tamayose, a committee director, chastised symposium attendees, telling them “as you’ve heard, Naha City went well. They could get agreement to build the facility, but why can’t we build in the south?” He reminded people that the current facility is nearly full, and could be overflowing within a year.

The four mayors are saying “we should agree and let the residents understand the need for constructing the facility. Each of us knows, though, that people don’t want to build in our own places, so we need to make meetings with residents to decide. Otherwise, there will never be agreement to build the community.”

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