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Fukushima Plants Showing ‘Unusual Growing Patterns’ as Residents Return

One more spin doctor well at work: despite biologist Tim Mousseau’s many fieldtrips to study very precisely the Fukushima radiation’s effects on flora and fauna, an unknown radiobiologist Carmel Mothersill comes out on Newsweek to minimize the risks of the well existing radiation effects on location stating that ‘there is a low risk to people and pets.’

An artwork titled “FUTABA”, a part of the Futaba Art District project is seen on a wall of a shuttered store on August 31, 2022, in Futaba, Fukushima, Japan.

August 31, 2022

Japan’s Fukushima, the site of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster, is showing “unusual growing patterns” among vegetation in the area because of the radiation contamination.

In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant lost power during a tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan’s Pacific coast. This caused systems in three reactors to fail and the cores to overheat. Nuclear material then bored holes in each reactor, causing radiation to leak. This resulted in a series of explosions and a catastrophic nuclear disaster. The event is second only to Chernobyl as the worst nuclear disaster.

Over 300,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, and an exclusion zone had to be created. Slowly, following remediation, areas have opened up again, meaning people can return. Recently, the town of Futaba lifted its evacuation order.

Tim Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina and a radiation expert, told Newsweek that a “vast region near the power plant” is still “significantly contaminated” but that levels are much lower than they used to be. However, the effects of radiation continue to be seen in the plants in the area, he said.

“There have been a few studies of the plants showing effects of the radiation. For example, it has been shown that Japanese fir trees show unusual growth patterns similar to that observed for pine trees in Chernobyl,” Mousseau said. “Such effects are still open for study, as they are preserved in the growth form of the plant/tree as long as it is still living.”

He continued, “Many areas are still contaminated above levels that most would consider safe for people to live, although most of the region is now relatively safe for short visits.”

Carmel Mothersill, a radiobiologist and the Canada research chair in environmental radiobiology, said that remediation efforts have also affected the area’s vegetation.

“The biggest disruption to the environment was the remediation effort where all vegetation was removed and up to a meter of soil was also taken off to clean it up. But the damage to forests and meadows is terrible,” she said.

“The disruptions to everyday life caused by the accident were permanent for many of the residents, and this is unlikely to change soon for the most affected regions of Fukushima,” Mousseau said. “This is not so much because of persistent radiation per se but also because much of the infrastructure was damaged or destroyed and has deteriorated over the past decade.”

Mousseau also said that the ongoing effects of the contamination and “other human disturbances” remain largely unknown, as “research in the region has dropped off dramatically in the past years because of COVID and Japan’s restrictions on visitors from outside the country.”

“Assuming Japan removes travel restrictions, more research will be conducted,” he said.

While some areas are opening back up to the public, most of the Fukushima area remains evacuated, Mothersill said.

“People are nervous and not happy to go back,” she said. But where people are living, radiation levels are very low, ‘meaning there is a low risk to people and pets.’


September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Midnight countdown held as evacuation order on Fukushima town lifted after 11 yrs

One of the organizers of the “okaeri project” event waves his hand after opening a door set up in front of JR Futaba Station in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on Aug. 30, 2022.

August 30, 2022

FUTABA, Fukushima — People shouted, “Welcome back!” at the stroke of 12:00 a.m. on Aug. 30 to celebrate the lifting of evacuation orders here, 11-plus years after townspeople were barred from returning following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdowns.

The town of Futaba was one area designated as “difficult to return” due to fallout from the plant, which the town cohosts with the neighboring municipality of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. All Futaba residents were forced to evacuate to other parts of Japan after the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the power station run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

After 11 years and five months, the town has been deemed habitable once more, with the establishment of a “Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Base.” And to celebrate, resident volunteers organized the “okaeri (welcome back) project” event in the town center in front of Futaba Station, on the JR Joban Line. A countdown was held, and when the clock struck 12, organizers opened a pink wooden “door of hope” as the people there yelled, “Welcome back!”

About 2,000 candles were lit at the venue on the night of Aug. 29, creating a magical atmosphere. Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa told the crowd, “I will dedicate myself to reconstruction work, so that it (Futaba) will become a town where people will be happy to come back to.”

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order finally lifted for Fukushima nuclear plant town

The town of Futaba, which hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. An evacuation order for the town was lifted on Tuesday for the first time since the March 2011 disaster.

Aug 30, 2022

Fukushima – An evacuation order in a town hosting the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was lifted Tuesday for the first time since the March 2011 disaster 11 years and five months ago, as the municipality prepares for the return of some of its residents.

The order for the Fukushima Prefecture town, which hosts the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. complex, was imposed after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the country’s northeast, triggering reactor meltdowns and making the area uninhabitable due to high radiation levels.

Futaba is the last municipality to see an evacuation order lifted among 11 municipalities subject to such orders in the wake of the disaster. Although residents are now allowed to return home, over 80% of the municipality, by acreage, remains designated as “difficult-to-return” zones.

The parts reopened for habitation are located near JR Futaba Station in the town’s previously downtown area and its northeast, where many commercial and public facilities, such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, are located.

With relatively low radiation levels, people had been allowed to enter the northeastern area since March 2020 but not to reside there.

As of late July, 3,574 people from 1,449 households, or over 60% of the town’s population, were registered as residents of the two areas accounting for just 15% of Futaba’s total area.

But the number of residents who participated in a preparatory program started in January, allowing them to return temporarily, totaled just 85 people from 52 households.

Following the disaster, most of the town’s residents were evacuated outside the prefecture, along with the town office’s functions. A number of them have since settled outside the town.

While Futaba aims to increase its population to 2,000 by around 2030, a survey of residents last year found that 60.5% had decided not to return, far exceeding the 11.3% who expressed a desire to return.

As for areas other than those that are reopening or scheduled to reopen, the government plans to decontaminate individual locations after confirming that residents intend to return. Futaba and Okuma, a neighboring town to the south that also hosts the crippled power station, are expected to start such work in fiscal 2024.

Although the government said last August it is aiming for the return of residents to areas outside reconstruction and revitalization bases by the end of the decade, the prospects are unclear as areas covering over 300 square kilometers in seven municipalities of the prefecture are designated as difficult-to-return zones.

In Okuma and Futaba, the return of such residents is likely to occur around fiscal 2025 or 2026 at the earliest, considering the time needed for infrastructure building, according to a government official.

Earlier this month, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa asked industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura to “show a road map toward decontamination of the entire area” when he visited Fukushima after assuming the ministerial post.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori also pointed out that “the steps and scope of decontamination, as well as how to treat the homes and land of those who do not wish to return, have not been worked out.”

The evacuation order was lifted a day after Futaba celebrated the reopening of a residential police box located approximately 3 km northwest of the nuclear plant in the municipality.

The police box, which will house one officer, was shuttered immediately after the nuclear disaster.

“I would like to support the town by keeping the peace here so residents can return feeling secure,” said Hirotaka Umemiya, 40, as he began his duties in the town.

A separate ceremony was held Saturday for the opening of Futaba’s new town office, which was temporarily located in the neighboring city of Iwaki, with its operations set to start Sept. 5.

Three nuclear reactors on the Okuma side of the Fukushima No. 1 complex suffered meltdowns, while the two reactors on the Futaba side was unscathed.

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Evacuation of Okuma Town Lifted, a First in a Town where Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is Located

July 1, 2022
 At 9:00 a.m. on July 30, the evacuation order was lifted in Okuma Town, one of the hard-to-return zones still restricted due to radioactive contamination caused by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba Towns, Fukushima Prefecture). Eleven years and three months have passed since the accident, and this is the first time that people have been able to live in the difficult-to-return zone in the municipality where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is located. The town is moving forward with the attraction of companies related to the decommissioning of the plant and the construction of housing, but it is not clear how many people will be able to live in the area.
 The reconstruction site is mainly located in the residential area around Ono Station on the JR Joban Line and covers approximately 860 hectares, or 10% of the town’s land area. At the time of the nuclear accident, more than half of the population (11,505) lived there. Even now, approximately 5,900 people are registered residents, accounting for 60% of the total. The town has set a target of 2,600 residents in five years.
 Mayor Atsushi Yoshida said at a crime prevention patrol ceremony held in front of Ono Station, “It takes time to get back to the bustling town we once were. We have finally made a start.
 In April 2019, the evacuation order will be lifted in the southwestern part of Okuma Town, where about 380 residents are now living after the entire town was forced to evacuate due to the nuclear accident.

Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Zone (Reconstruction base): A zone designated by the government after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident as a “difficult-to-return zone” with high radiation levels, where government funds are being used to decontaminate the area in advance to enable residents to resume their lives. Of the seven municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture that remain in the difficult-to-return zones, six, with the exception of Minamisoma City, are located in these zones. The reconstruction base in Katsurao Village was lifted on June 12. The base in Futaba-cho, where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is located, is expected to be lifted in July or later.

◆There are many issues to be addressed, and the future will be tough.
 In Okuma Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where the evacuation order has been lifted, there are still some areas that have not been fully decontaminated, and some houses that have not been demolished and decontaminated yet. The situation remains inconvenient with no stores or hospitals, and residents who wish to return to their homes said, “There are a lot of issues. The future will be tough,” said one resident.
 About 6 km southwest of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Mitsuhide Ikeda, 61, a part-time farmer, keeps 17 head of cattle in his pasture. On March 30, while feeding his cows with his wife Mikiko (64), Ikeda said, “I am happy to be able to go back to my home freely. I hope to resume livestock farming someday and also produce rice, vegetables, and fruits to show that it is possible to grow food in the area that was once a hard-to-return zone.

Mitsuhide Ikeda, who said he wants to return to livestock farming in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 30.

Eleven years ago, on the morning of March 12, Ikeda and his wife refused to dispose of their cattle, even after the sudden evacuation, saying, “We cannot take away the lives of our cows, our precious family members who have supported our lives. Once they caught the cows that had fled, they continued to care for them while commuting from Hirono Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where they had evacuated from, about 25 km south of the town.
 Two years ago, he built an office where he can sleep on the site of his former home adjacent to the pasture, but even after the evacuation order was lifted, he continues to commute from Hirono Town. Even after the decontamination of his property, he found areas where the radiation level was 15 microsieverts per hour, well above the government’s long-term target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, and had to have the area re-decontaminated. There were many such places throughout the neighborhood. Mitsuhide said, “The government could have bought up all the areas with high radiation levels and not decontaminated them.
 Mikiko does not want to live in Okuma because “shopping is inconvenient. Mitsuhide also said, “There is no one around for hundreds of meters, so when something happens, there is no one to shout out. It would be difficult to live there right now,” he spilled. Still, he is determined to fulfill his desire to be a cattle breeder on his ancestral land.

◆It’s just a transit point
 A woman, 60, who evacuated to Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, feels that the lifting of the evacuation order is “just a passing point. After her house was placed in a recovery center, she asked the town what would happen to her house after the evacuation order was lifted, but she did not know.
 I couldn’t see what was going to happen to the town,” said the woman. Her house has been demolished, but the surrounding area has been ransacked by burglars and animals, and there are still buildings that have not been decontaminated. I like Okuma because I can feel the four seasons and smell the grass being cut,” she said. But even if I was told I could go home, I would not be able to lead a settled life in a place where the living environment is not well maintained.”
 The woman would like to build a house and live with her husband if the town’s environment is improved, but she cannot make up her mind right now. In a survey of residents’ intentions, 20% said they could not decide whether or not to return, but these people are the most likely candidates to come back. If we don’t take good care of them, they won’t come back.

July 3, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan OKs return to nuclear plant host town for 1st time in 11 yrs

Photo taken June 16, 2022, shows a zone in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, specified as a reconstruction and revitalization base, where an evacuation order will be lifted at 9 a.m. June 30. (Kyodo)

June 28, 2022

The government decided Tuesday to lift an evacuation order on part of a town hosting a crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, allowing residents to return home for good this week for the first time since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

Restrictions in a zone specified as a reconstruction and revitalization base in Okuma will be lifted at 9 a.m. Thursday, the first such case for a municipality hosting Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan.

“Ending restrictions on an area, which used to be downtown (Okuma) before the disaster, will be a significant first step in reconstruction,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said.

“We will create an environment where residents can return home without worries,” Hagiuda said at a press conference.

Restrictions in the specified reconstruction and revitalization base zone of the town of Futaba, which also hosts the Fukushima Daiichi plant, are also expected to end soon.

Okuma will be the second municipality in Fukushima Prefecture, after the village of Katsurao, to see people coming back to an area once designated as difficult to return to due to high levels of radiation.

Restrictions in part of the village were lifted on June 12.

With decontamination work reducing radiation levels and infrastructure being prepared in Okuma, restrictions will end in the 8.6-square-kilometer area that was once the center of the town.

Residents have been able to stay overnight in the area since December in preparation for their full-scale return.

A total of 5,888 people in 2,233 households, accounting for about 60 percent of the town population, were registered as residents of the area as of Monday, according to the Okuma town government.

Three other municipalities where residents are still not allowed to return — Tomioka, Namie and Iitate — are expected to see restrictions lifted around next spring.

July 3, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Govt. to lift evacuation order for part of Fukushima’s Okuma Town

June 28, 2022

The Japanese government has officially decided to lift its evacuation order in part of Fukushima Prefecture’s Okuma Town.

About 60 percent of Okuma Town was designated as a “difficult-to-return” zone after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The plant is located in the town.

The evacuation order will be lifted in about 20 percent of Okuma Town’s “difficult-to-return” zone on Thursday. The decision was made on Tuesday.

The government decontaminated the area after it was designated as a special zone for reconstruction and revitalization.

The area will be the second “difficult-to-return” zone that residents can go back to.

The government made a similar decision for part of Katsurao Village earlier this month. Katsurao Village is located near the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

July 3, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Fukushima village residents allowed to return 11 years after nuclear disaster – but do they want to?

Restrictions lifted for some residents in Fukushima prefecture, more than decade after the nuclear disaster, but many people are still worried

It’s first time restrictions removed to allow people to live again in ‘difficult-to-return’ zone; government says radiation levels have been reduced

Workers open a gate in Katsurao, Japan, as evacuation orders are lifted for part of the village, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, allowing residents to move back into their homes more than a decade on from the March 2011 disaster.

12 June, 2022

Residents from part of Katsurao village in Fukushima Prefecture can move back into their homes again more than a decade on from the March 2011 nuclear disaster that followed an earthquake and tsunami, after evacuation orders were lifted on Sunday morning.

It is the first time restrictions have been removed to allow residents to live again in part of the “difficult-to-return” zone once expected to stay closed far into the future due to high radiation exposure.

The government decided on June 3 to end restrictions for the 0.95-square-kilometre area after determining decontamination had reduced radiation levels, and that infrastructure was in place to support habitation.

But while the government has poured funds into decontamination and infrastructure development for zones known as “specified reconstruction and revitalisation bases” which are earmarked for reopening, the intervening 11 years have depressed residents’ desire to return to their homes.

In the part of Katsurao’s Noyuki district where restrictions have been lifted, just four of the 30 households comprising 82 people intend to return, according to the local government.

Amid rainy weather, an official from the central government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters declared the area reopened at 8am. After the gate blocking the road was opened, a police car and other vehicles quickly began patrols of the area.

Katsurao Mayor Hiroshi Shinoki indicated he was considering bringing back residents through revitalising local agriculture, the area’s key industry.

“This is one milestone,” he said. “It is our duty to work to try to bring things back as much as we can to how they were 11 years ago.”

But Fujio Hanzawa, a 69-year-old resident who was quick to revisit his home, spoke carefully when asked about the reopening. “I’m glad I can return without limits, but I’m still 80 per cent concerned. There are issues outstanding, like the unfinished decontamination of the mountain.”

Around 337 square kilometres of land in seven Fukushima municipalities remain subject to the difficult-to-return zone classification. Of those, a total of just 27 square kilometres in six of the same municipalities comprise specified reconstruction and revitalisation base zones.

Apart from Katsurao, the towns of Futaba and Okuma – the latter being home to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant – are expected to see restrictions partially lifted sometime this month or later, with another three municipalities scheduled for next spring. A specific timetable for areas outside the specified reconstruction bases has not been reached.

Katsurao was made entirely off-limits following the nearby nuclear power plant’s meltdown in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

June 18, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

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 | , , | Leave a comment

Areas reopening after Fukushima nuclear disaster need sustained gov’t support

June 10, 2022

Evacuation orders that have been in place since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station disaster are set to be lifted in part of the Fukushima Prefecture village of Katsurao, one of the so-called difficult-to-return zones, on June 12.

Difficult-to-return zones, which people are forbidden from entering in principle due to high radiation levels, have been left behind in the recovery process. The latest move marks the first time that people will be able to live in one of these areas since the meltdowns triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The central parts of six difficult-to-return towns and villages including Katsurao have been designated as “zones for reconstruction and recovery,” and the national government has been carrying out decontamination work there. The part of the village of Katsurao set to reopen for living is one of such zones, finally marking a step forward more than 11 years after the accident.

However, of the 82 people in 30 households registered in that part of Katsurao, at this stage only eight people in four households have expressed their intention to return.

Evacuation orders were lifted in 2016 for other parts of Katsurao that fell outside the difficult-to-return zone, five years after the onset of the disaster. Another six years have passed since then, and residents have apparently become hesitant to return.

Through next spring, it is expected to become possible for people to permanently return to designated reconstruction and recovery zones in five remaining towns and villages including the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which the crippled nuclear power station straddles.

Many residents, however, are reluctant to return as those areas face an uncertain future. While local bodies are planning to secure medical care and attract commercial facilities into the areas, there is a need to steadily prepare such a living environment.

Besides worries about the future, an additional source of concern for people is that decontamination work in areas outside the specified reconstruction and recovery zones has yet to commence.

The government promised to create an environment enabling all residents wanting to return to do so in the 2020s. But the only places outside the restoration and recovery zones that the government has decided to decontaminate are returning residents’ homes and their vicinities. It has not revealed how it plans to handle other land and homes.

If the scope of decontamination work is not fixed, there will likely be many residents unable to decide whether they can return with peace of mind. The government needs to quickly present a course of action.

The road to recovery of the difficult-to-return zones is still far off. An official at Katsurao Murazukuri Kosha, a public corporation that is promoting the revival of the village, stressed, “First, it’s important to properly support the lives of people who have returned. We want to move forward one step at a time from there.”

The government has a responsibility to accomplish the revitalization of Fukushima. It must listen to the voices of residents, and continue to offer sustained support.

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Entry ban to end for village in Fukushima, but few plan return

A radiation monitoring post in the “difficult-to-return zone” in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, showed a reading of 1.162 microsieverts per hour on May 15, several times the figure for before the nuclear disaster.

May 17, 2022

Evacuation orders will be lifted in June for the first time in the residential zone considered the most heavily contaminated from 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.

Residents who fled from the Noyuki district of Katsurao village northwest of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be allowed to restart living there on June 12.

The decision followed a meeting between central government officials handling the nuclear accident and Katsurao officials on May 16.

The official decision is expected to be announced at a meeting of the government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Eighty-two people of 30 households who used to live in the district will be eligible to return. The district is about 20 kilometers from the stricken nuclear plant and part of the government-designated “difficult-to-return zone.”

Eight people of four families have expressed their intention to return, according to village officials.

More than 11 years have passed since the area was put off-limits by the government. And many evacuees and their families have started new lives elsewhere.

Yoshinobu Osawa, a 68-year-old man who lives in public housing with his wife in Miharu, a town about 30 km from the Noyuki district, indicated that they will not return to their original home.

His house in the district was dismantled three years ago, and he believes he is too old to rebuild his life from scratch.

“The passage of 11 years after the disaster weighs heavily,” he said.

Following the triple meltdown at the plant in March 2011, the government issued evacuation orders for areas where annual radiation doses were estimated to reach 20 millisieverts, including all of Katsurao.

The government also designated areas with readings of 50 millisieverts a year in the difficult-to-return zone.

Seven municipalities, with a combined pre-disaster population of 22,000, fell in this category, including most of Katsurao as well as Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the nuclear plant.

Barricades were erected to prevent people from entering the difficult-to-return zone.

In December 2011, the government prioritized decontamination efforts in districts outside the difficult-to-return zone. It also said restrictions on living in the zone would remain for many years because of the high radiation levels.

But in a reversal of the policy, the government in August 2016 announced that it would clean up parts of the zone for a future lifting of the entry ban. A government study showed that radiation levels had dropped naturally in some areas of the zone despite the absence of decontamination work.

In 2016, Katsurao villagers whose homes were located in areas with readings of less than 50 millisieverts a year were allowed to return.

However, less than 30 percent have returned, according to the village hall, which is hoping that 80 people will return within the next five years.

Hiroshi Shinoki, the village chief, acknowledged the challenge at a news conference on May 16.

“We have finally reached the starting line for reconstruction,” he said. “But numerous problems have arisen as time passed by.”

The lifting of the entry ban for specific reconstruction areas in Okuma and Futaba is expected between June and July.

Osawa noted that cleanup work has reduced the radiation levels of the Noyuki district to less than 20 millisieverts a year.

Still, the figure is 10 times that of the pre-disaster doses.

He said he cannot gather mushrooms and edible wild plants like he used to because they are now contaminated.

(This article was compiled from reports by Susumu Imaizumi, Tetsuya Kasai, Keitaro Fukuchi and Senior Staff Writer Noriyoshi Ohtsuki.)

May 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan to Lift Evacuation Order for Fukushima Katsurao Area June 12

May 16, 2022

Japan will lift on June 12 an evacuation order for a Fukushima Prefecture district that has been in place since the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The district in the northeastern village of Katsurao, designated as a specified reconstruction and revitalization base, will become the first area in the so-called difficult-to-return zone to host permanent residents again.
The central government’s nuclear disaster response headquarters, as well as the Katsurao village and Fukushima prefectural governments, announced an agreement on the removal of the order at a news conference in the village office.
In 2011, all Katsurao residents were ordered to evacuate due to the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the prefecture.
Later, the evacuation order was lifted for most of the village. Still, the Noyuki district, which is some 1,600 hectares and accounts for some 20 pct of the village, remains designated the difficult-to-return zone due to high radiation levels.

May 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order to be lifted for Fukushima district on June 12

Katsurao Mayor Hiroshi Shinoki (right) and Masahiro Ishii (center), state minister of economy, trade and industry, attend a news conference about the lifting of an evacuation order for a district in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, at the village on Monday

May 16, 2022

Katsurao, Fukushima Pref. – An evacuation order for a Fukushima Prefecture district that has been in place since the 2011 nuclear disaster will be lifted on June 12.

The district in the village of Katsurao, designated as a specified reconstruction and revitalization base, will become the first area in the so-called difficult-to-return zone to host permanent residents again.

The central government’s nuclear disaster response task force, as well as the Katsurao village and Fukushima prefectural governments, announced an agreement on the removal of the order at a news conference in the village office.

In 2011, all Katsurao residents were ordered to evacuate due to the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings’ Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the prefecture.

Later, the evacuation order was lifted for most of the village. Still, the Noyuki district, which totals some 1,600 hectares and accounts for some 20% of the village, remains designated as a difficult-to-return zone due to high radiation levels.

“We’ve finally reached the starting line,” Katsurao Mayor Hiroshi Shinoki told the news conference, stressing his resolve to provide people from the village with “support for the reconstruction of their lives.”

Masahiro Ishii, state minister of economy, trade and industry, who heads the task force, said he is “aware of the voicing of concerns mainly about radiation levels.”

“We’ll work carefully, including for the establishment of a consultation system, while holding discussions with the village,” he added.

According to the Katsurao government, the village’s specified reconstruction and revitalization base, which is some 95 hectares, has 82 registered residents belonging to 30 households.

But only four members of two households have taken part in a program from the end of November last year that allows locals to stay inside the district to prepare for the expected full return.

“Eleven years have already passed since the disaster, and we cannot return as soon as the order is lifted,” Sayuri Osawa, 67, said.

Osawa, who lives in the Fukushima town of Miharu, was among those who attended a briefing held on Sunday for displaced Katsurao residents.

“If I could return, I would work on a farm and plant flowers,” she said with a smile.

Fukushima has six specified reconstruction and revitalization bases.

Of the municipalities hosting the bases, the towns of Futaba and Okuma are hoping to see the evacuation order lifted for their bases in June and between late June and early July, respectively.

May 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan lifts evacuation order for town hit by Fukushima disaster

Futaba to reopen for start of Olympic torch relay after being deserted for nine years

3448The entrance of Futaba town, which has been empty since the leak at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.


March 4, 2020

Japan has lifted an evacuation order for parts of a town in the shadow of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, weeks before the area is to host the start of the Olympic torch relay.

Futaba, 2.4 miles (4km) west of the plant, has been almost deserted since the nuclear meltdown nine years ago, while other areas in the region have mounted a partial recovery after the government declared them safe for residents.

The start of the relay’s Japan leg at the end of the month is supposed to showcase Fukushima’s recovery from the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, but some residents say their home towns may never return to normal.

Futaba’s 7,000 residents were forced to evacuate after the March 2011 disaster, which was triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people along Japan’s north-east coast.

The reopening of a 1.5 sq mile area of Futaba means reconstruction workers can stay in accommodation near the railway station, but residents will not be able to return for another two years, when its water supply and other infrastructure will have been restored, according to local officials.

They will be able to enter and leave for short visits without going through security, and will no longer need to wear protective clothing, but will not be allowed to stay overnight.

While the coronavirus outbreak has prompted speculation that the Olympics could be cancelled or postponed, Japan’s government is keen to promote Tokyo 2020 as proof that the region, including Fukushima, has recovered from the triple disaster.

I’m overwhelmed with emotion as we finally bring part of our town operations back to our home town,” said Futaba’s mayor, Shiro Izawa. “I pledge to push forward with our recovery and reconstruction.”

The domestic leg of the torch relay is due to begin on 26 March at J-Village, a football training complex that functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the damaged nuclear plant 12 miles away.

Although organisers have said the route is subject to change, the torch is scheduled to pass through Futaba later the same day, before being taken through other parts of Fukushima prefecture over the following two days.


3128A guard opens the gate to the town in Futaba.

In addition to building excitement across the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games and promoting the Olympic values, the Olympic torch relay aims to demonstrate solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami,” the organisers said last month.

More than 160,000 people were forced to flee their homes during the Fukushima meltdown. Many have decided not to return, despite government reassurances on safety, and many of those who have returned are older residents.

Futaba is no exception, with just 10% of residents saying they intend to return. Some, particularly those with young children, are concerned about radiation levels, while others have built new lives elsewhere.

Yuji Onuma, a Futaba resident, said recent work to repair streets and decontaminate the town centre was designed to give the world a false impression before the Olympic torch relay.

I wish they wouldn’t hold the relay here,” Onuma told Reuters. Pointing at workers repaving a road expected to be on the relay route, he added: “Their number one aim is to show people how much we’ve recovered. I don’t think people will understand anything by just seeing cleaned-up tracts of land.”

Radiation readings in the air taken in February near Futaba’s railway station were around 0.28 microsieverts per hour, higher than the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts an hour.

Another part of the town had a reading of 4.64 microsieverts per hour on the same day, meaning a person would reach the annual exposure upper limit of 1 millisievert, recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, in just nine days.

The torch is due to pass through the village of Iitate the following day, but campaigners this week described the relay as inappropriate and warned they had found radiation “hotspots” in the village.

In a survey of 69 locations along and around the proposed relay route, the grassroots group the Radioactivity Monitoring Centre for Citizens said it had found 44 sites with radioactive levels above 0.23 microsieverts per hour, including one “severe hotspot” of 0.85 microsieverts per hour along the torch relay route.

The discovery of hotspots near J-Village by Greenpeace Japan at the end of last year prompted the environment ministry and the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to perform extra decontamination work.

While some independent monitors have said the discovery of isolated hotspots does not present an accurate picture of the overall situation in Fukushima, Nobuyoshi Ito, an Iitate farmer, said the civic group’s findings cast doubts on government claims that decontamination work had been a success.

Radiation exposure for runners passing along the route may not be very high, but the overall situation in places like Iitate is severe,” Ito said. “Levels are several times to as many as 20 times higher in the village than they were before the disaster, and people who moved back have to put up with that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Of Iitate’s pre-disaster population of 6,100, only 1,200 people have returned, Ito said. “The small number of people coming means that the nuclear disaster is not over yet. The truth is that full recovery from a nuclear disaster like this is just not possible.”

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stations Near Fukushima N-Plant to Be Out of Evacuation Zone

December 20, 2019
Fukushima, Dec. 20 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government plans to lift evacuation orders for areas surrounding train stations close to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, it was learned Friday.
The government and the town of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, agreed to lift an evacuation order around the town’s Yonomori Station on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line on March 10 next year.
It will be the first instance of an evacuation order being lifted for an area designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” after the March 2011 nuclear disaster. The decision is expected to be made official by the government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters.
The government is also in talks with municipalities over removing evacuation orders for districts surrounding two other Joban Line stations, ahead of the train line’s planned full reopening by the end of March next year.
The government is holding discussions with the prefectural government and the town governments of Futaba and Okuma, which both host the nuclear plant, on the dates for lifting the orders for areas around Futaba and Ono stations, located in Futaba and Okuma, respectively. According to sources, the negotiators are expected to settle on March 4 as the date for the Futaba station area.


December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order lifted for Fukushima town

1 04 2017 evacuation order lifted 3.jpg

The Japanese government has lifted the evacuation order for most parts of a town in Fukushima Prefecture. It was issued after the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The directive for Tomioka Town was lifted at midnight on Saturday in all areas except for no-entry zones with high radiation levels.

The town became the 9th municipality to be released from the order. The decree was initially imposed on 11 municipalities in the prefecture.

The government also withdrew the directives for some areas in Kawamata Town, Namie Town, and Iitate Village at midnight on Friday.

Areas still subject to the government evacuation order now make up 369 square kilometers. That is one-third of the initial size.

About 9,500 Tomioka residents are now allowed to return to their homes.

But in a survey conducted by the Reconstruction Agency and other institutions last year, only 16 percent of Tomioka’s residents said they wanted to return to their hometown.

The town government had opened a shopping mall and a medical facility ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.

In the future, it will be a challenge for the town to revive industries, decontaminate no-entry zones, and provide continued support for residents living outside the town.

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment