Disasters & Accidents

Evacuation order partly lifted in Fukushima nuclear plant town

Tokyo, Aug 30 (EFE).- Japan on Tuesday partially lifted the evacuation order on Futaba, one of the two towns where the Fukushima nuclear power plant is located and designated a “difficult-to-return” zone following the disaster at the facility in 2011.

Since 2020, people have been allowed to enter the northeast of Futaba but not to reside there, something that will be allowed from Tuesday in certain parts that account for around 15 percent of the town’s total area.

The return of residents to these areas comes more than 11 years after they were evacuated following the partial meltdowns of reactor cores at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which made the town uninhabitable due to high levels of radiation.

Futaba is the last of 11 municipalities to have the evacuation orders imposed due to the disaster lifted and more than 80 percent of it is still designated as “difficult-to-return” due to radiation.

The areas where the evacuation orders have been lifted are located near the JR Futaba train station, built after the cleaning and decontamination of the area, in the northeast of the town and where commercial and public facilities, including the Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum and the Great East Japan Earthquake, are located.

At the end of July, 3,574 people were registered in the areas where the evacuation order was lifted but only 85 participated in a preparatory program to return that began in January, according to local news agency Kyodo.

Following the nuclear crisis, most of Futaba’s residents were settled outside Fukushima prefecture.

A survey carried out by the government last year showed that around 60.5 percent of Futaba’s former residents have no intention of returning, compared to 11.3 percent wanting to do so.

The partial lifting of the evacuation order in Futaba comes two months after the authorities allowed a similar return to Okuma, another “difficult-to-return” zone and the other town that houses the damaged nuclear power plant and which also mostly remains closed for the same reason.

More than 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) of land in six towns in Fukushima, including Katsurao, Okuma and Futaba, are still designated “difficult-to-return” and their rehabilitation remains uncertain. EFE


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