Japan lets kids return near Fukushima nuclear plant

TOKYO Fri Sep 30, 2011 5:10pm IST

Unit 5's seaside slope is seen at the tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima prefecture In this handout picture taken August 25, 2011 and released by TEPCO on September 24, 2011. REUTERS/Tokyo Electric Power Co/Handout

Unit 5's seaside slope is seen at the tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.(TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima prefecture In this handout picture taken August 25, 2011 and released by TEPCO on September 24, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tokyo Electric Power Co/Handout

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will let children and pregnant women return to certain areas near the Fukushima nuclear plant, the trade minister said on Friday, following an improvement in living conditions after a huge earthquake and tsunami in March.

Schools have been shut down in these areas located within the 20-30 km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where about 60,000 people lived prior to the radiation leaks from the nuclear plant.

Though evacuation was not mandatory for residents as the radioactivity was within limits, some 30,000 left these areas, a spokesman at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

"We have taken a sound step towards rebuilding and reconstruction in areas suffering damages from the nuclear disaster," Trade Minister Yukio Edano, who oversees economic damages from the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

"We recognise those who evacuated from this zone are concerned about radiation contamination and infrastructure," he said, adding the government will help clean these areas and organise social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals.

Local governments and volunteers have been working to reduce high levels of radioactivity in these areas such as by removing radioactive top soil, but worries remain among residents over long-term health effects.

About 80,000 people were forced to evacuate from the 20 km radius no-go zone surrounding the plant. Another 10,000 have fled a different zone in nearby towns where levels of radioactivity was high.

Some experts have criticised the way the complicated way the government set up evacuation zones.

"The basic of crisis management is to draw a clear line and not to leave any unclear zones," said Tatsuhiko Kodama, who heads the University of Tokyo's Radioisotope Center.

Experts have said cleanup projects could cost tens of billions of dollars, while Japan must also figure out where to store and dispose of the massive amounts of nuclear waste stemming from decontamination efforts.

The government aims to halve radiation over two years in places contaminated by the crisis, relying on both the natural drop in radiation as time passes and by human efforts.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Action Against Islamic State

Reuters Showcase

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

NATO countries have begun arms deliveries to Ukraine - defence minister   Full Article 

Hurricane Odile

Hurricane Odile

Powerful hurricane Odile buffets Mexico's Baja, thousands evacuated.  Full Article 

Restive Xinjiang

Restive Xinjiang

China says "rescues" more children from Xinjiang religious schools.  Full Article 

G8 Report

G8 Report

Governments hold key to unlocking billions for social good.  Full Article 

Singapore Pollution

Singapore Pollution

Singapore air pollution slips into unhealthy level.  Full Article 

Typhoon Kalmaegi

Typhoon Kalmaegi

Typhoon Kalmaegi heads out of Philippines, cuts power, damages farms.  Full Article 

Poroshenko's Empire

Poroshenko's Empire

Tough time to sell Ukraine president's "mouthwatering" candy empire.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage