After years of decontamination work, where teams remove topsoil, wash exposed road surfaces and wipe down buildings, the government will in September lift the evacuation order and declare it a safe place to live.
Other towns and villages will follow in coming months and years, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government aiming to lift many evacuation orders by March 2017.
A year after that, the monthly 100,000 yen ($800) in “psychological compensation” that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has been ordered to pay to evacuees, will cease.
Greenpeace’s new study, published Tuesday, says only a quarter of Iitate has been decontaminated — predominatly roads, homes and a short buffer strip of woodland around inhabited areas.
“Levels of radiation in both decontaminated and non-decontaminated areas… make a return of the former inhabitants of Iitate not possible from a public health… perspective,” the report says.
A person living in the area could expect to absorb 20 times the internationally accepted level for public exposure, Greenpeace says.
“The levels of radiation in the forests, which pre-accident were an integral part of (life), are equivalent to radiaton levels within the Chernobyl 30-kilometre exclusion zone”, the report says, referring to the former USSR plant that saw one of the world’s worst-ever nuclear accidents.
“Over 118,000 people were permanently evacuated from the 30km zone around Chernobyl in April 1986, with no prospect or plans for them ever returning.”