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Tokyo’s Mission to Eliminate Unpleasant Smells in Advance of 2020 Olympics

The Yomiuri Shimbun City officials and others patrol the streets checking for bad smells on May 23 in the Kichijoji area in Musashino, Tokyo.

City officials and others patrol the streets checking for bad smells on May 23 in the Kichijoji area in Musashino, Tokyo. The Yomiuri Shimbun

Efforts to eliminate bad smells in shopping areas, entertainment districts and other parts of Tokyo are gaining steam as the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics approach.

Unpleasant smells are often from hydrogen sulfide generated in drainage pits installed underneath buildings.

Officials from the Musashino city government and others split into six teams to patrol Kichijoji’s downtown district. They carefully sniffed the air as they walked, and when they smelled something bad, they marked the spot on maps they carried.

In Kichijoji area in Musashino, Tokyo, local business owners and city officials have begun joint patrols trying to track down the buildings causing bad smells. The Tokyo metropolitan government is expanding a similar program to areas around Olympic venues, tourist spots and other places, and plans to ask building owners to address the situation.

On May 23, about 30 local shop owners, officials from the Musashino city government and others split into six teams to patrol Kichijoji’s downtown district. They carefully sniffed the air as they walked, and when they smelled something bad, they marked the spot on maps they carried.

Later, they planned to identify what was causing the smells, such as by measuring hydrogen sulfide levels, and ask building owners to take care of the problem.

Kichijoji has been ranked No. 1 among places people want to live in the Tokyo metropolitan area. While it is known as a stylish and popular area, complaints about bad smells started pouring into the municipal government around 2000.

The Kichijoji Kasseika Kyogikai, an association of local shopkeepers and others, has in the past called on the city to get rid of the bad smells, which eventually led to the joint patrols that started in April.

Hydrogen sulfide is generated when material in wastewater that is collected in drainage tanks underneath buildings decomposes. Restaurants, toilets and other facilities that are located underground are at a lower level than sewage pipes, so waste water cannot flow away naturally. This waste is, therefore, accumulated in drainage pits, sometimes called sump pits, and is regularly pumped out into the sewage system.

However, waste water starts to decompose if left to sit for a long time. Then when it is discharged into sewer pipes, the hydrogen sulfide vaporizes and escapes through manhole covers and other openings, causing sulfurous smells to waft above ground.

In fiscal 2009, the city government started subsidizing construction costs for work such as installing machinery that circulates air to prevent waste water from decomposing. The subsidies can be used to cover half of the construction costs, up to ¥500,000. By fiscal 2016, repairs for 15 locations at 11 buildings had been subsidized.

Before crowds of foreign tourists arrive for the Olympics, the Tokyo metropolitan government is trying to strengthen its policies for preventing smells caused by hydrogen sulfide.

In recent years, the metropolitan government has received about 1,000 complaints about bad smells annually … (read more)

via The Japan News

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