TOKYO – In the Japanese town of Futaba – one of the two towns that host the disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant – radiation cleaning work began Monday, with the aim of making the town re-habitable by 2022.
Cleanup work has begun in areas which were contaminated with radioactive substances due to the nuclear accident caused by the Mar. 2011 massive earthquake and tsunami, which led to the evacuation of the city and a ban on visiting the area, local authorities said.
The decontamination plan is part of a government project to make these areas inhabitable again and develop infrastructures there, funded by the state-owned Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
“Feeling progress in procedures toward reconstruction through the construction would help stimulate the motivation of town people to return here,” said Futaba mayor Shiro Izawa, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo.
Futaba and Okuba are two towns which co-host the Fukushima Daiichi plant; and the population of the two localities – 6,093 in Futaba – had to be completely evacuated after the nuclear disaster.
Currently Futaba is classified as a “difficult-to-return” area, as none of the residents has been able to move back and only 4 percent of the city is open for visits.
Workers have begun to remove the top layer of soil near Futaba’s train station and dismantle around 60 houses and public facilities under the supervision of the Environment Ministry.
The government aims to make the town habitable by 2022 and lifts the evacuation advisory, while the train line in the area is expected to resume operations in 2020.
The evacuation zone established after the nuclear accident is being gradually lifted, giving the people a choice to return to their houses, although most of them have stayed away due to the lack of services, fears of persisting radiation and other reasons.
The radiation and nuclear waste released in the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had led to the evacuation of thousands of residents nearby – many of whom still live away – and severely affected agriculture, livestock and fisheries.