The town of Tomioka in the Fukushima Prefecture is the eighth area located near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to be redesignated by the central government. The revision in the town’s status now allows some of its residents to go back to their houses and begin clean-up operations. However, even though prefectural police do not restrict entry into the town anymore, check points were set up by the central government on national roads.
The government has come up with new designations for the zones affected by the 2011 disaster, effectively replacing its former designations “No-Entry” zones or “Expanded Evacuation” zones. The new designations now have three categories in terms of entry rules: (1) “Return Forbidden” is given to closed zones having above 50 mSv of radiation dose per year, (2) “Residence Forbidden” is given to areas with over 20 and under 50 mSv of radiation per year, and (3) “Preparing for Evacuation Cancellation” is for areas that register under 20mSv of radiation per year. The central government estimates that evacuation advisory for the most contaminated area in Tomioka will be lifted in 2017 and the other two zones in 2016.
While the municipal government believes that the town is less likely to be fully ready for normal living conditions before 2017, its mayor, Katsuya Endo, is very hopeful and positive about the developments. The new zone designations already allow for some 11,200 residents to return to their homes; that’s 70% of Tomioka’s total population. “Finally, we can start rebuilding the city’s infrastructure,” he said.
[via Jiji Press]