FUKUSHIMA – Residents of the 20-km hot zone around the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant have been allowed to stay overnight at their homes after progress with decontamination.
Previously, the residents from the village of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, were allowed to spend only the day inside the evacuation zone.
The change means the residents will be free to spend entire days at home for the next three months, after which the government will decide whether to lift the evacuation order for good.
However, because of lingering radiation fears, just 40 residents from 18 households applied to return to their homes. The 134 households in Kawauchi comprise 276 residents.
The central government is talking with the residents and the Kawauchi municipal authorities about completely lifting the evacuation order, given the decontamination work.
If lifted, Kawauchi would be the second places to see its order lifted in the 20-km-radius evacuation zone set up around the nuclear plant, following Miyakoji district in the city of Tamura.
A total of 10 municipalities, including Kawauchi, are still subject to evacuation orders around the plant, which was devastated by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011, and released radiation on much of Fukushima.
Katsutoshi Kusano, 69, and his wife Shigeko, 68, said they have returned home to the village from a temporary housing facility in the city of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, as they “remain attached to” their house and garden.