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Southern cities agree to waste disposal plan

Date Posted: 2007-05-02

A sanitation facility jointly owned by three central Okinawa cities is now accepting refuse from its southern neighbors in Tomishiro City.

The agreement this month by Okinawa City, Ginowan City and Chatan Town clears the way for Itoman City and Tomishiro City’s Shimajiri area waste to be processed by the Kurahama Sanitation Facility Association. The southern Okinawa cities were scrambling to find a disposal location for its waste residue after they encountered problems getting a new facility of their own established.

The southern port cities say they’ve worked out a deal for a new plant that will come online in 2010, after being deadlocked for a lengthy period of time about where to build it. Tomishiro and Itoman cities had worked out a fallback plan where its waste products would be sent to Miyazaki Prefecture. A contract was in place, but local officials said it would have been an expensive proposition, because of its budget difficulties.

“We never had such a big budget,” said one official, “but now we’re happy to get at least four years help from our neighbors.” Itoman and Tomishiro residents still aren’t happy that a sanitation facility will be built in their backyard. Questions remain, because a location for the new plant hasn’t been chosen yet.

That uncertainty is making central district officials and citizens suspicious. They’re asking whether a new plan can even be built in a short four-year period, leading a Kurahama Sanitation Facility Association official to note “we can only accept their waste for four years. No longer.” The Kurahama plant is located in Kurashiki, and although it has sizeable space available, association officials are planning for the future, and say being good neighbors is not an open-ended agreement. Already, other associations, including Yomitan Village, are asking to use the Kurahama facility.

Okinawa City Assemblyman Hideaki Ikehara says “we should make conditions too the southern region that we’ll accept their residue for a limited period of time.” He’s questioning plans for the Tomishiro-Itoman City facility, wondering about a location and environmental assessment that must be completed before construction even begins.

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