TOKYO, May 8 (UPI) -- The cleanup effort in Japan's earthquake-hit Fukushima prefecture is being delayed by the unresolved nuclear crisis there, the government said.
The clearance of the huge debris left behind by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit the prefecture in March 2011 had been set to be completed by March of next year. The deadly disaster, which killed thousands of people, also crippled the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant, setting off the country's worst nuclear crisis.
The Environment Ministry said it may not be possible to meet the cleanup deadline of March 2014 as the nuclear crisis has hampered efforts to build storage and incineration facilities and that it will now draw up a new schedule this summer, the Daily Mainichi reported.
The report said the total amount of quake-related debris in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, including "tsunami deposits" such as earth and sand, has been estimated at 28.5 million tons.
Of that, 3.6 million tons are estimated to be in Fukushima prefecture. However, the report said, as of March of this year, only 40 percent of the "disaster debris" such as incombustibles and wood had been disposed off, while only 2 percent of the tsunami deposits had been handled because of the ongoing nuclear crisis.
The report said the ministry will speed up construction of incinerators in Fukushima.
Iwate and Miyagi prefecture officials, meanwhile, have said they likely will be able to clear all their debris by the March 2014 deadline, the report said.