Return home by villagers near Fukushima nuke plant postponed

JIJI

The government has postponed plans to lift the evacuation advisory for the village of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, which was tainted by radiation during the three meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.

The government had proposed lifting the advisory on July 26 because radiation levels had fallen, but residents were skeptical of the proposal.

After meeting with residents on Sunday, Reconstruction Agency official Takashi Kumagai said it would be best to determine the timing after further discussions with the village.

Kawauchi is one of the places within 20 km of the Fukushima No. 1 plant classified as areas where evacuation advisories might be removed and where residency is restricted.

Some evacuees began extended stays at their homes in April ahead of what they hoped would be a permanent return once decontamination work is completed by the central government.

Kumagai said the government will discuss extending the long-stay program, which started on April 26, and other matters.

During Sunday’s consultations, which were held further west in the city of Koriyama, officials from the Cabinet Office and the Environment Ministry reported that radiation levels had dropped by an average of 63 percent since decontamination began and that improvements had been made to the village’s infrastructure.

Besides the proposal to lift the evacuation advisory, the government also put forward the idea of reclassifying an area where residency is restricted into an area where preparations can be made for the lifting of the advisory.