Towns Near Fukushima May Be Shut for Decades

Surrounding 12 miles show continuing radiation
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2011 6:45 AM CDT
Japanese Nuclear Plant: Towns Around Fukushima Dai-Ichi May Be Closed for Decades
Former residents of the town of Okuma near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant wipe away tears during a memorial service on July 24, 2011.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Japan has been telling residents of the 12-mile evacuation zone around Fukushima Dai-ichi that they'll likely be going home next year—but now it looks like the government is finally ready to say otherwise. With dangerous radiation still evident in the area, it could be decades before those who were evacuated are allowed to return to their communities. Within days, officials are likely to announce an indefinite ban on residents’ return; it would mark the first time the government has acknowledged the possibility of decades of empty towns, the New York Times reports.

Officials will soon decide how to compensate residents for their loss; one possibility is that it will rent their land. The news comes after radiation levels were higher than expected during tests released this weekend. A person living two miles from the plant in the worst-affected town of Okuna for a year would be hit with 508.1 millisieverts of radiation; the government calls 20 millisieverts per year safe. (Read more Fukushima Dai-ichi stories.)

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