New Fukushima danger zone designations allow residents to visit former homes
The Fukushima town of Tomioka on Monday became the eighth location near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nucear power plant to be redesignated as part of a government plan to speed up reconstruction.
Wards within Tomioka, a formerly-abandoned town (except for one resident) in the Futaba district of Fukushima, were redesignated in a bid to allow former residents to visit their properties and begin clean-up operations, TV Asahi reported Monday.
The government hopes the new, reworded zone labels will help to mitigate fears. Towns that had formerly been designated as “No-Entry” zones or “Expanded Evacuation” zones due to the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, are to be redesignated to allow for gradual rebuilding of Fukushima’s infrastructure.
The new designations include three categories, each with its own entry rules. “Return Forbidden” are closed zones with over 50 mSv of radiation dose per year. “Residence Forbidden” applies to areas with over 20 and under 50 mSv of radiation per year. Finally, “Preparing for Evacuation Cancellation” is the designation for areas registering under 20mSv of radiation per year.
These designations replace those of “No-entry zone” and “Evacuation area” that were previously employed.
Tomioka Mayor Katsuya Endo said that although the government has set up several thousand barricades and many areas are still off-limits, the new zone designations allow for some 11,200 people, around 70% of the town’s former residents, to return to their former homes and begin clean-up operations. “Finally, we can start rebuilding the city’s infrastructure,” Endo told reporters.