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Joso resident blames solar plant construction for flooding

A levee on the Kinugawa River broke on Thursday
A levee of the Kinugawa River broke on Thursday

IBARAKI (TR) – A local resident in Joso City says that part of last week’s extreme flooding was not due to natural causes.

Masao Sakasai, a 67-year-old resident in Wakamiyado, blames the construction of a large-scale solar power plant in the Wakamiyado district, according to Nikkan Sports (Sep. 12).

He says the power plant, whose installation in the riverbed of the Kinugawa River began in March of 2014, increased the risk of flooding. He also claims to have been bullied into silence.

”If you think this is dangerous, how about you move somewhere else?” Sasakai says he was told by an employee at a Joso government office when he raised the red flag about safety of the river in May of last year.

Typhoon Etau’s rains pummeled Japan last week, leading to flooding that had left at least 22 missing in Joso as of Friday.

Joso was hit especially hard. News footage showed homes being washed away as the Kinugawa topped its banks. One failure occurred at the location of the plant.

During the installation of the photovoltaic panels, an embankment separating the riverbed from residences was cut down by between two and three meters over of a length of 150 meters.

With the embankment being on private property, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism obtained permission to install sandbags at the cut-down point to alleviate concerns against against rising water. But Sakasai believes it was insufficient.

“This was a man-made disaster,” Sakasai said. “I hope the people in the area can sue.”

Eiichi Yoshihara, the major of Bando, which is located near Joso, raised the very same concerns. On Friday, he said that a government inquiry into the matter has been lodged, according to TBS News (Sep. 12).

Japan has made a push for the expansion of the utilization of solar energy at a hectic pace since nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture went into meltdown and devastated communities following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.

This is not the first problem involving a solar plant in recent months. Last month, winds from a typhoon ripped solar panels from their foundations in Arao City, Kumamoto Prefecture, leading to local indignation, reports Fuji News Network (Aug. 25). Also last week, solar panels collapsed onto a roadway in Sendai as a result of rains from Typhoon Etau.