Clean move

Published: Saturday 31 March 2001

the Japanese cabinet will soon approve two bills that are aimed at encouraging the processing of polychlorinated biphenyls (pcb), a chemical that causes sexual, neural and developmental problems in animals. This is being done to destroy the country's decade-old stockpiles of the chemical. The bill includes plans to create national and prefectural disposal sites and a fund to subsidise pcb destruction. It will also make it compulsory for factories and companies to report annually to prefectural authorities on the storage and disposal status of pcbs. In addition to these provisions, four regional pcb processing plants will also be built.

The country's environment ministry officials said all known stored pcbs would be destroyed in the next 10 years. Although production of pcbs was banned in 1972, the process of disposing the chemicals has been slow because of citizens' opposition to the construction of processing facilities as well as lack of technological choices to do so. But in recent years, new methods of destroying pcbs have been developed.

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