asahi shinbun, disaster area, evacuation, japan government, nuclear radiation, relocation

Updated radiation map shows fewer areas above evacuation standard, 4/28/11, asahi

The science ministry’s updated map of expected levels of accumulated radiation in Fukushima Prefecture showed slightly fewer areas around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that fit the criteria for evacuation.

At least one local government in an area outside the expected evacuation zone is already resisting specific instructions from the central government.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology will update the map twice a month. The figures released are estimates for annual radiation exposure until March 11, 2012, a year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant.

The map, used to designate evacuation zones, was updated April 26. Unlike the first post-quake map released on April 11, the latest update shows annual accumulated nuclear exposure estimates within a 20-kilometer radius of the nuclear plant.

The new map was based on radiation levels measured at about 2,100 locations from March 12 through April 21 by the ministry and the Fukushima prefectural government and others.

The estimated annual radiation exposure levels for these areas were calculated on the assumption that residents stay within wooden buildings for 16 hours a day.

The updated map showed 14 such locations within the “planned evacuation area” outside the 20-km radius, including Akougi, Namie town, about 24 km northwest of the plant. Akougi had the highest estimated radiation level, at 235.4 millisieverts.

But the map also showed wide gaps in estimated radiation levels.

For example, 10 millisieverts was expected in Nimaibashi, Iitate village, below the 20-millisievert standard, according to the map.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama on April 26 met the chiefs of municipalities near the plant, including Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno and Michio Furukawa, mayor of Kawamata town, whose jurisdictions fall within the expected 20-millisievert evacuation zone.

Fukuyama asked the mayors to temporarily relocate residents, including to Nagano or Aomori prefectures.

It was the first time the central government suggested specific areas for the relocation of residents.

Both Kanno and Furukawa rejected the request, telling Fukuyama that the residents should be allowed to move to nearby areas within Fukushima Prefecture.

Kanno said he told Fukuyama that Iitate residents have lives and families in their hometown, so it would be difficult for them to leave the area.

He said he is grateful that the central government has been trying to find places for the residents to live together, but they cannot be expected to simply follow the government’s suggestions.

About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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