The reclassification of the evacuation zones set in nine municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power station will be completed at midnight May 27 with the step in Futaba town.
The town, all of which has been designated as a no-go zone, will be reclassified into an area difficult for residents to return to over a long period of time and into an area readying for the lifting of evacuation orders.
Futaba’s reclassification would complete the work to reclassify the evacuation zones in nine municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture which are located in a radius of 20 kilometers from the nuclear power plant.
Of the whole population of 76,420 in the evacuation zones in the nine municipalities, 32,130 or 42 percent would be in areas readying for the lifting of evacuation orders where businesses such as manufacturers are able to resume operations in the daytime.
The population in the residence-restricted areas with visitation-only access where residents would be allowed to enter in the daytime but cannot resume business operations would be 19,230 or 25 percent of the total.
A total of 51,360 people, or 67 percent, can enter the two categories of areas in the daytime, conduct repairing work and sort out household goods at their homes.
The central and local governments are expected to speed up the work to restore infrastructure, such as roads and water supply and sewage service systems.
But areas difficult for residents to return to over a long period of time are set in six of the nine municipalities. The population in those areas stands at 25,002. In the towns of Futaba and Okuma, 96 percent of the residents are from those areas.
The residents in the reclassified areas expect an acceleration of preparations for them to return to their hometowns, such as repairs of their homes. But more work to decontaminate radiation will be necessary for the residents to restore their living conditions. It is also necessary to reopen supermarkets and medical institutions.
The Environment Ministry has picked eight candidate sites to build temporary storage facilities for radiation-contaminated waste and debris.
According to a plan presented by the ministry to Futaba and Okuma towns, all the eight candidate sites are located in areas difficult for residents to return to over a long period of time.
The central government needs to pick the sites for temporary storage facilities and purchase land from the owners. Such owners may be required to take tough decisions to sell their home land.
In addition, the ministry has designated evacuation zones in 11 municipalities of Fukushima Prefecture as places where the central government should conduct decontamination work.
But full-fledged decontamination work has started only in four municipalities –- the city of Tamura, the town of Naraha, and the villages of Kawauchi and Iitate.
Decontamination work has been slow in the towns of Tomioka and Futaba where detailed plans for decontamination have yet to be worked out. At many areas in those municipalities, the prospects for residents to return home have yet to be worked out.
The town governments of Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and Namie plan to build so-called “temporary communities” outside their hometowns for evacuees from the nuclear disaster.
Of the 12 municipalities where evacuation zones were set up in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster, the central government lifted its evacuation advisory for residents in the town of Hirono in September 2011.
In July 2012, the evacuation zone in the village of Iitate was reclassified into three areas. Only the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata has yet to be reclassified.