Plans to enable residents to rebuild their lives in certain evacuation zones around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant have been announced by Japan's Reconstruction Agency. In addition to decontamination work and the restoration of infrastructure, the ten-year plan calls for the creation of jobs in the area.
The 'Grand Plan' released by reconstruction minister Tatsuo Hirano today covers parts of the twelve municipalities that were designated as evacuation zones following the March 2011 accident. However, those zones were recently reclassified into three groups: those whose evacuation orders will be immediately lifted; those where preparations will be made to lift the orders; and those where the order will remain in place.
Residents may be able to return to some areas in about two years, after decontamination work has been carried out and power, water and sewage services have been restored. The agency noted that, while in some areas such infrastructure was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, in others it has stood unused for more than a year and may now not function correctly.
Under the restoration plan, local residents would be offered work helping with the decontamination efforts and the decommissioning of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors. Much contaminated soil is to be removed to enable people to resume their lives in the areas.
Over the next five years, the government aims to restore the regional transportation infrastructure. It will also promote local industrial development and farming operations.
In the longer term, the plan aims to recover employment levels by attracting young people to the area through the support of new industries. It will also rebuild the area's research and education functions. The agency said that it aims to make the region 'an attractive area to settle,' where residents 'have confidence in health and cherish the ties of community.'
Hirano said that he expects local municipalities to draw up specific programs for resettling residents under the plan.
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.
In mid-August, thousands of residents of Naraha town in Futaba district were told they could return to homes and businesses during daylight hours after the municipality's evacuation order was lifted. The town lies 13 kilometres to the south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and includes a portion of the Fukushima Daini plant that also saw an emergency situation last year. All of the municipality's 7200 residents had evacuated by the end of April 2011, but the area did not suffer any serious radioactive contamination. However, Japanese authorities consider the area safe for daylight visits with no need for monitoring equipment or protective clothing.
It was the fourth revision the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has made as it assesses evacuated areas and works towards everyday life.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News