Satellite to watch for illegal dumping

To reduce illegal dumping of industrial waste, the Environment Ministry has started to use an Earth observation satellite to monitor areas from space, it was learned Thursday.

The Iwate prefectural government has begun experimentally receiving relevant satellite data and has given administrative guidance to companies that have illegally dumped industrial waste.

Iwate’s success has prompted the ministry to decide to use satellite data to clamp down on illegal dumping of industrial waste nationwide.

The ministry plans to make use of the observation satellite in fiscal 2009 together with prefectures that want to use the satellite.

The satellite, called Daichi, is one of the world’s largest Earth observation satellites. It was launched in 2006 by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for the purpose of creating detailed maps and other images.

Daichi can take photographs at resolutions high enough to distinguish objects as small as 2.5 meters in diameter. The cost of a one-time image capture use of the satellite is 200,000 yen, one-tenth to one-eighth the cost to use a U.S. commercial satellite for the same purpose.

Since January 2008, the Iwate prefectural government has been employing a system developed by Iwate University that allows it to create color photos based on satellite data.

With the help of the satellite, which detects changes on the ground, including the accumulation of industrial waste, the prefectural government can closely watch remote areas that are difficult to monitor from the ground.

Using the satellite, the prefectural government has been able to uncover several dumping cases in which companies illegally expanded their waste disposal sites. Local governments have issued these companies administrative guidance to rectify the situations.

(Jan. 9, 2009) The Yomiuri Shimbun


Author: EARSC

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