Futaba access restrictions relaxed

13 May 2013

Residents will be able to repair tsunami damage in the town of Futaba after the Japanese government decided to prepare for the removal of parts of the town from the Fukushima evacuation zone.

Futaba town had a population of some 7500 prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which reportedly destroyed 90% of the houses there. Remaining residents in the town were thenevacuated after the accident at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The entire town has subsequently remained within the exclusion zone around the plant as annual radiation levels exceeded 50 milliSieverts (mSv).

Fukushima zones May 2013 (METI)

Latest map of zones: Futaba town, marked in blue, lies just a few miles from the
Fukushima Daiichi plant (Image: METI)

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has now announced that controls on entry to parts of the town will be relaxed at midnight on 28 May. Those parts of the town where radiation doses are 20 mSv or less will be redesignated as areas for which preparations will be made for lifting the evacuation order. It does not, however, expect that order to be removed for about another four years.

The redesignation will allow decontamination work to begin and for essential infrastructure and services to be reconstructed. Residents would be allowed to temporarily visit their homes and businesses to carry out clean-up and restoration work. They would be required to wear protective clothing and to take measures to limit their exposure to radiation.

Redesignation of the evacuation zone has also removed 5 kilometre zone from the coast near Futaba allowing boats to travel near the coastline.

Futaba will be the tenth of eleven municipalities around the Fukushima Daiichi plant to be reclassified by the government. The designation of Kawamata town has yet to be revised.

Of the 150,000 residents who evacuated the area around the Fukushima Daiichi plant, some 72,800 lived in the towns and villages of Futaba district. Being close to the nuclear power plant, Futaba district was heavily dependent economically on the plant, with much of its industry geared towards the power sector.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News