Residents allowed first visits inside nuclear zone in Japan
About 100 evacuees were allowed into the exclusion zone around Japan`s troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Tuesday for a brief visit to gather belonging from their homes.
Tokyo: About 100 evacuees were allowed
into the exclusion zone around Japan`s troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Tuesday for a brief visit to gather belonging from their homes.
The excursion marked the first time the government has
felt confident enough in the safety of the area to sanction even short trips there. Residents have been pushing hard for weeks for permission to check up on their homes.
The evacuees just a fraction of the tens of thousands
forced to flee when the plant started leaking radiation after
the March 11 earthquake and tsunami boarded chartered
government buses for the two-hour visit.
They were provided with protective suits, goggles and
face masks to wear while in the zone, and were issued plastic
bags to put their belongings in. They were also given
dosimeters to monitor radiation levels and walkie-talkies.
All were to be screened for radiation contamination
after leaving the 12-mile (20-kilometre) zone.
More visits are planned in the months ahead, but
residents fear they may never be able to return for good.
Many had been secretly sneaking back into the zone during the
day, but the government concerned over safety and the
possibility of theft began enforcing stricter road blocks and
imposing fines on April 22.
The official visits were seen as a compromise that
took both safety and the wishes of the residents into
Nine towns and villages are subject to the no-go zone
order, and several more are on alert for a possible evacuation
in the near future. Tens of thousands of residents from the
area still live in evacuation shelters, though many have
scattered to the homes of relatives or apartments in other
locations across the country.