State seeks to keep power to order No. 1 plant evacuations

Kyodo

The government will seek to retain the power to issue evacuation orders and establish evacuation zones even after the state of emergency is lifted when the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant is resolved, government sources said Monday.

Under the current law, the government would technically not have authority over evacuation orders once the lifting of the emergency automatically dissolves its nuclear disaster response headquarters, despite the need for its continued involvement over the long term.

The government plans to submit a proposal to revise the nuclear disaster law during the ordinary Diet session starting later this month.

The government last month said it will reclassify evacuation zones around the Fukushima plant into three categories at around the end of March, depending on estimated annual radiation exposure.

The first category covers areas with an estimated annual radiation exposure exceeding 50 millisieverts, to which entry will remain prohibited in principle for at least five years.

The second category covers areas with an estimated annual radiation exposure of between more than 20 millisieverts and 50 millisieverts, where the entry of evacuated residents would be restricted but decontamination and infrastructure rebuilding work could take place.

The third category includes areas with an estimated annual exposure of 20 millisieverts or less, where the evacuation orders will be lifted in stages based on progress made over decontamination and rebuilding infrastructure.

The current evacuation zones cover areas within a 20-km radius of the plant, where entry is prohibited, and areas with an estimated annual radiation exposure reaching the government-set upper limit of 20 millisieverts, where most of the residents have been evacuated.