Access reopens for another Fukushima town

JIJI

The town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, at midnight Thursday was removed from the exclusion zone imposed at the start of the Fukushima No. 1 meltdown disaster.

It was downgraded to a zone with annual radiation levels of under 20 millisieverts, where temporary visits are allowed and where the central government is making preparations for the lifting of the evacuation order.

The government will begin full decontamination work later this month, and it plans to complete decontamination of the area by March 2014.

Among 11 municipalities near the plant, Naraha is the fifth to get a revision under the government’s new evacuation zoning.

Excluding the southern industrial section, almost the entire town was within the exclusion zone set after the March 2011 crisis started. Most of approximately 7,600 residents have been living as evacuees in the nearby city of Iwaki as they have been forbidden to enter the zone.

The change in status allows residents to enter the area. Although it is possible to make preparations for businesses to resume operations, residents are not permitted to stay in the town overnight.