Photo by Daveeza
Starting Friday, access to a 20-km area around the crippled Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima will be banned, a government official said. Residents will be allowed short, supervised 2-hour visits, to collect their belongings.
People in the area were urged to leave the area shortly after the March 11 disaster, but no law was enforced until now. A wider area, of another 10 km around the plant, was declared dangerous and people were asked to remain indoors or leave.
"The plant has not been stable," said the chief government spokesman, Yukio Edano, quoted by the BBC. "We have been asking residents not to enter the area as there is a huge risk to their safety. Unfortunately, there are still some people in the areas," he said. "Today … we have decided to designate the area an emergency area based on disaster law."
About 80,000 people were living in the affected area before the March disaster. Not all of them accepted to leave. According to officials quoted by Bloomberg, about 40 people are still living there.
The new government order allows for only one person per household to return to home for two hours at most, to retrieve belongings. They will have to wear protective equipment and will undergo radiation checks. People living 3 km or closer to the plant will however not be allowed a temporary visit to their homes.
Most people who had to leave the dangerous areas are accommodated in sports halls and gymnasiums. They could be forced to remain away from their homes for several months, as the nuclear plant’s operator, TEPCO, said it is trying to perform a cold shutdown of the reactors within nine months. [BBC, Bloomberg]