The Daily Manila Shimbun


Decontamination of Fukushima evacuation zones almost complete

March 31, 2017

TOKYO- The Japanese government has almost completed its work to clean up Fukushima Prefecture areas where evacuation orders have been issued following the March 2011 nuclear accident but the levels of radioactive contamination are relatively low, the Environment Ministry said Friday.

The work, directly undertaken by the state, was nearly complete as of Friday, the final day of fiscal 2016 and the deadline set by the government. The areas are in 11 municipalities in the northeastern Japan prefecture.

The areas subject to the work do not include so-called difficult-to-return zones near Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In the difficult-to-return zones, radiation levels are very high and entry is banned in principle.

Of 36 Fukushima municipalities having areas where evacuation orders have not been issued but annual radiation doses are at or above one millisievert and decontamination has been conducted on their own, 12 were unable to complete the cleanup work by Friday.

But radiation cleanup has already ended in residential areas and other areas frequented by local people in the 12 municipalities, including places where many public facilities are located, meaning that the decontamination deadline has been largely met.

The 12 are the cities of Fukushima, Koriyama, Iwaki, Shirakawa, Nihonmatsu, Minamisoma, Date and Motomiya, the towns of Kunimi and Kawamata, and the villages of Otama and Kawauchi.

In March last year, the Japanese cabinet set the goal of completing decontamination in wide areas of Fukushima by the end of March this year.

The government now plans to focus on decontamination in the difficult-to-return zones and accelerate work to build facilities that will serve as reconstruction bases.

According to the ministry, the decontamination work, which started in January 2012, covered 100 municipalities in Fukushima and seven other prefectures. The central and local governments have mobilized a total of more than 30 million workers for the missions, and some 15.6 million cubic meters of radiation-tainted soil was removed.

The central government has been shouldering costs for the decontamination work on behalf TEPCO and is aiming to be reimbursed by the company.

Funds allocated for the decontamination work through fiscal 2016 totaled some 2.6 trillion yen.

The cleanup work in the difficult-to-return zones will begin in fiscal 2017 and be funded by the state. Jiji Press