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article imageJapan’s Fukushima nuclear area off-limits for ‘several decades’

By Lynn Herrmann     Aug 23, 2011 in Environment
Tokyo - Areas close to Japan’s Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear facility are likely to remain off-limits for “several decades” due to high levels of radioactive contamination, even if the government lifts the 20-kilometer no-go zone currently in place.
Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility continues to impact the country’s citizenry, and new reports indicate the negative impact within 3 kilometers of the plant will likely last for decades, confirming what many had already believed: the disaster is far greater than government officials have previously indicated.
Citing unnamed government sources, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reports the no-entry zone will probably include parts of Okumamachi and Futabamachi, both located in Fukushima Prefecture and both lying within the new 3-kilometer no-entry zone initiated by the Japanese government on Monday.
Japan’s Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry (MEXT) estimates cumulative radiation levels at the plant since the triple meltdown occurred will greatly exceed 20 millisieverts at 35 locations primarily in Okumamachi and Futabamachi. Designation of an expanded evacuation zone is based on the benchmark of 20 millisieverts.
The ministry took radiation level measurements at 50 no-entry zone locations and found the Koirino district of Okumamachi, located three kilometers southwest of the plant, was estimated to reach 508.1 millisieverts. In Ottozawa, the calculation was 393.7 millisieverts.
Prime Minister Nato Kan will be holding talks with local government leaders in the impacted areas and issue an apology for the prolonged evacuation.
The Japanese government is contemplating using locations around the Daiichi facility as temporary storage areas for radioactive waste, including the sludge and debris remaining from the attempt at treating contaminated water.
“I can't deny the possibility that it may be difficult for residents from some areas to return home for a long time. I deeply apologize for that,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, Agence France-Presse reports.
The government declared a no-entry zone in April after the Daiichi plant suffered the nuclear meltdowns on March 11 from a deadly earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The plan at that time was to lift the no-entry zone next January, a time which the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), said it would bring the facility to a cold shutdown, or stable condition.
News of the decades-long no-go zone, however, means Japanese citizens who lived within three kilometers of the plant will now be forced to seek permanent living quarters elsewhere.
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