JR East to run bus through Fukushima no-entry zone


East Japan Railway Co. said Thursday it will start a bus service through the effective exclusion zone around Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear station.

The service, starting on Jan. 31, will be the first public transport to enter the zone within 20 km of the power station, which suffered three reactor meltdowns in March 2011.

Entry into the zone is basically banned. Former residents don’t expect to be able to return for many years due to severe radioactive contamination. However, on some routes, locals are allowed to drive through the zone.

JR East will open the 46-km bus route between the JR Joban Line’s Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture and Haranomachi Station in the city of Minamisoma in the same prefecture.

The bus service will take the place of the Joban Line service between the two points that was suspended when the nuclear disaster started.

JR East will operate two round trips per day on the route. However, the bus will not stop between the two JR stations. The one-way fare is ¥840, the same as the train fare between the two stations.

The Cabinet Office estimates a passenger on the bus will receive 1.2 microsieverts of radiation per each one-way trip. The drivers will carry dosimeters to measure radiation exposure.