A government ban on road traffic imposed on a section of National Route 6 running north to south through the Hamadori coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture was lifted at midnight on Sept. 14, allowing the entire highway to open to traffic for the first time since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster three and a half years ago. The ban had been in force in a Futaba County area where residency is restricted due to radioactive contamination from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Reopened was a 14-kilometer stretch passing through the towns of Tomioka, Okuma and Futaba. Restrictions on vehicle traffic along a 1.7-km portion of a prefectural road in Tomioka, linking Route 6 and the Tomioka interchange of the Joban Expressway, were also removed. Previously, only vehicles with special permits were allowed to travel the section.
But traffic from the highway to side roads remains closed in principle for crime prevention except for residents with temporary entry permits. Motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians are still not allowed due to the higher risk of exposure to radiation from the nuclear plant. No parking is permitted along the affected stretch.
According to the Environment Ministry, the average amount of radioactivity along the 14-km stretch after decontamination work is 3.8 microsieverts per hour and the maximum hourly count is 17.3 microsieverts measured at a point near the nuclear power plant in Okuma.