TAMURA, Japan, July 28 (UPI) -- Decontamination work in Japan's nuclear disaster-stricken Fukushima prefecture has begun, despite a stalemate on where to put contaminated soil, officials say.
Workers began cleaning a cemetery and a shrine in Tamura city Friday, marking the official start of the decontamination program, The Asahi Shimbun reported.
The central government-funded decontamination work in 11 evacuated municipalities was scheduled to be completed by March 2014, however, only five cities, including Tamura, have been given the go ahead to begin the process.
The main point of contention between the central government and many of the other evacuated municipalities has been figuring out where to put contaminated soil and other waste from the process in the short and medium terms.
"The fundamental problem is that, in a situation in which the problem of where to construct the intermediate storage facilities has yet to be resolved, local governments are facing difficulties in securing places to store contaminated soil temporarily," Environment Minister Goshi Hosono said Friday.
Designs for intermediate storage units are due by the end of this year, but local and central governments have not yet agreed on where those units will be placed.
In March, the central government purposed three intermediate storage facilities be situated in Futaba county, where the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is located.
"As guidelines for compensation were shown on July 24, we want to promote talks [with local governments] on the intermediate storage facilities," said an Environment Ministry official.