It will take up to three more years for six towns and villages close to Fukushima nuclear power plant to be decontaminated, according to officials.
The initial plan stated that the areas near-by the nuclear plant would be cleaned-up by March 2014, with the deadline being recently postponed for 2017.
Over 90,000 residents still cannot return to their homes.
During the recent months, Fukushima operator, Tepco, reported a series of radioactive water leaks that contaminated the soil and partially got to the Pacific Ocean. The latest contamination with water having high levels of toxic isotope Strontium-90 was reported on Sunday after unexpected heavy rain.
“Our pumps could not keep up with the rainwater. As a result, it flowed over some containment areas,” Tepco spokesman, Yoshikazu Nagai, said.
Tens of thousands of workers are engaged in the massive clean-up effort, removing millions of tonnes of topsoil and vegetation. But in the most highly contaminated areas work is yet to begin.
The government officials said that people living close to the nuclear plant will be able to return home by 2017. However, many of the residents have already decided they would never go back, according to the international press.