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Government OKs reopening of Fukushima village section to residents in June

Decontamination work is conducted in the village of Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, in November 2018

June 3, 2022

Fukushima – More than a decade since the March 2011 nuclear disaster, some registered residents of part of a Fukushima village made off-limits by high radiation levels can finally return home after the government decided Friday to lift evacuation orders on June 12.

While some areas around stations and rail tracks had their so-called “difficult-to-return” zone classification lifted, it is the first time for the classification to be lifted to host permanent residents again.

A 0.95 square kilometer part of Katsurao, located near the defunct Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, will have the designation lifted, the government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters and the Reconstruction Agency agreed in a joint meeting.

The move comes after national and local governments decided in May that the area’s radiation decontamination and infrastructural developments had progressed enough to reopen.

“This is a big step toward the restoration of the village,” said Mayor Hiroshi Shinoki in a statement. “The lifting is not a goal, but a start.”

The entirety of Katsurao became off-limits after the nuclear crisis triggered by an enormous earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, with evacuation orders for most of the village lifted on June 12, 2016.

Of the 30 registered households and 82 residents in the relevant part of Katsurao, just four households totaling eight people have expressed an intention to return, according to the village government.

Currently, around 337 sq. km of land in six municipalities of Fukushima Prefecture, including Katsurao, Okuma and Futaba, is still subject to the difficult-to-return zone classification.

At Friday’s meeting, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he intends to “move ahead with work to lift restrictions and further accelerate Fukushima’s recovery.”

Among the five other Fukushima municipalities inside the zone, Futaba and Okuma are set to have restrictions partially lifted from June onward, while the other three can expect partial removals in spring 2023.

However, more than 90% of the difficult-to-return zone in the prefecture will remain under the classification, and there is no concrete timetable for when it will be completely accessible again.


June 13, 2022 - Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , ,

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