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Evacuation order lifted in Minami-Soma after 5 years, affecting 10,000 people


For the first time in five years, a train begins service on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line at 7:33 a.m. on July 12.

Evacuation order lifted in Minami-Soma after 5 years

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–In good news for residents, an evacuation order for the southern part of the city here was lifted on July 12 for the first time since the massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant five years ago.

However, due to lingering fears of radiation contamination, less than 20 percent of the populace are set to return to their homes.

The central government allowed residents back into the southern region of the city after midnight on July 11. It marks the sixth time that evacuation orders have been lifted for locales in Fukushima Prefecture, following such municipalities as Naraha and Katsurao.

The latest lifting in Minami-Soma affects a total of 10,807 residents in 3,487 households in all parts of the Odaka district and parts of the Haramachi district, making it the largest number of people to be let back into their homes since evacuation zones were established following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Two residents living in a household in an area designated a “difficult-to-return” zone in the southern part of the city are still not allowed back home.

However, only about 2,000 residents signed up to stay overnight at their homes in the area ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.

That is likely because many still fear the effects of radiation from the destroyed power plant, which straddles the towns of Futaba and Okuma to the south of Minami-Soma. In addition, five years was more than enough time for residents who evacuated elsewhere to settle down.

With at least some of the residents returning home, East Japan Railway Co. resumed service on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations on the Joban Line for the first time in more than five years on the morning of July 12. The first train of the morning entered Odaka Station carrying 170 or so people on two cars as traditional flags used in the Soma Nomaoi (Soma wild horse chase) festival on the platform greeted passengers.

The central government is pushing to lift evacuation orders on all areas of the prefecture excluding difficult-to-return zones by March 2017.

Japan lifts evacuation orders in Fukushima affecting 10,000 people

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — The government on Tuesday further scaled down areas in Fukushima Prefecture subject to evacuation orders since the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, enabling the return of more than 10,000 residents to the city of Minamisoma.

Following the move, the city will become mostly habitable except for one area containing one house. But many residents seem uneager to return, having begun new lives elsewhere.

The government is in the process of gradually lifting evacuation orders issued to areas within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and in certain areas beyond the zone amid ongoing radiation cleanup efforts.

Eight municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have areas defined as evacuation zones, which are divided into three categories based on their radiation levels. The most seriously contaminated area is called a zone “where it is expected that the residents have difficulties in returning for a long time.”

In Minamisoma, the government lifted evacuation orders for areas except for the difficult-to-return zone. As of July 1, the areas had a registered population of 10,807, or 3,487 households.

To encourage evacuees to return, the central government and the city reopened hospital facilities, built makeshift commercial facilities and prepared other infrastructure.

Radiation cleanup activities have finished in residential areas, but will continue for roads and farmland until next March.

The government hopes to lift the remaining evacuation orders affecting areas other than the difficult-to-return zones by next March, officials said.



July 12, 2016 - Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , ,

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