Disasters & Accidents

Town where Fukushima plant is located lets residents stay overnight

Tokyo, Jan 20 (EFE).- Futaba, one of the two Japanese towns that houses the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, allowed some of its residents to spend the night in their homes from Thursday more than 10 years after the disaster hit the atomic facility.

The authorities granted the permission mainly to people affected by the evacuation order in force in the territory and scheduled to be lifted in June.

Over the past decade, the authorities have gradually lifted the evacuation orders imposed due to the high levels of radiation in the area.

However, 2.4 percent of Fukushima, the third largest prefecture in Japan, remains “difficult-to-return zones” and towns and villages such as Futaba are deserted.

Futaba currently has about 6,000 registered residents but their homes are de facto located outside the town.

It is the last remaining uninhabited area around the Fukushima nuclear plant even as the entry ban was partially lifted in March 2020 to allow the resumption of certain activities at the town office.

Decontamination and construction of infrastructure has been carried out on some 780 hectares, 15 percent of its entire area.

“Finally this day has come. I’d like to prepare so I can start getting back the life I had before the accident,” Yoichi Yatsuda, 70, told Kyodo news agency on Thursday after returning to Futaba from th enearby Minamisoma town.

As of the end of 2021, there were 3,613 people certified as residents in the designated areas in Futaba but many have already demolished their houses and only 15 people from 11 households had applied for the overnight permits, according to the agency.

Evacuation orders in the neighboring Okuma, the other town that hosts the plant, were lifted in 40 percent of its territory in April 2019 although less than 3 percent of its population has returned.

In August 2020, the Japanese central government announced a decontamination plan for the no-go zones outside the designated areas with the aim of allowing former residents to return in the current decade, but the prospects of the removal of the evacuation orders remain unclear. EFE


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