Tokyo (AFP) April 21, 2011
Japan on Thursday banned people from going within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, which has been leaking radiation for nearly six weeks.
The ban, which gives legal weight to an existing exclusion zone, comes after police found more than 60 families living in the area and residents returning to their abandoned homes to collect belongings.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced the no-entry area, due to be enforced from midnight (1500 GMT), on a visit to Fukushima prefecture, where thousands now live in evacuation shelters, almost six weeks after the March 11 quake.
The nuclear plant, where reactor cooling systems were knocked out, has been hit by a series of explosions and leaked radiation into the air, ground and sea in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
More than 85,000 people have moved to shelters from areas around the plant, including from a wider 30-kilometre zone, where people were first told to stay indoors and later urged to leave.
"The plant has not been stable," Kan's right-hand man, top government spokesman Yukio Edano, said at a Tokyo news conference. "We have been asking residents not to enter the area as there is a huge risk to their safety."
The ban can be enforced with detentions or 100,000 yen ($1,200) fines.
One member of each household within the 20-kilometre no-entry area will be allowed to make a two-hour return visit to their home to pick up personal belongings, wearing protective suits and dosimeters.
The trips on buses will start within days and run for one or two months, but exclude areas within three kilometres of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, where the radiation risk is deemed too high, Edano said.
"They are advised to keep the belongings they take out to a minimum," said Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, adding that all visitors to the no-go area would be screened afterwards for radiation exposure.
There are 27,000 households within the 20-kilometre zone, said broadcaster NHK.
They are likely to have to stay away for some time, after plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said Sunday that it did not expect a "cold shutdown" of all six reactors for another six to nine months.
Kan asked for residents' understanding when he flew to the prefecture by military helicopter and met Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato, before visiting local evacuation shelters.
"We have been doing our best to have people return to their hometowns and resume their lives there," Kan told local officials during his trip. "And we will make further efforts to realise this."
Sato later told reporters he had demanded "that Tokyo Electric Power as well as the government cover compensation responsibly, including damage caused by harmful rumours, so that evacuees can return as quickly as possible."
Many of those living in crowded shelters voiced frustration.
"We are all worried because we don't know how long this will go on for," a woman told NHK. "I want the government to tell us when this will end."
A man from Narahamachi, a town of around 8,000 in Fukushima, said: "The roof of my house is probably gone, but I can't even fix it. It's just unacceptable that we will only be allowed to go back for an hour, two hours."
A schoolboy at one shelter said: "I want to go back, even if it's a one-off thing for now. I need my study materials. I play baseball, so I want to bring back my baseball gear."
TEPCO, meanwhile, said that some 520 tonnes of water that leaked into the sea from a crack in a storage pit at the power station had reached about 4,700 terabecquerels -- 20,000 times above the plant's legal annual limit.
Environmental group Greenpeace said it was sending its Rainbow Warrior flagship from Taiwan to Japan to test seawater and marine life near the plant, starting as early as next Wednesday.
Aftershocks continue to rattle Japan after the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast of the country on March 11, leaving more than 27,000 people dead or missing.
A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.0 jolted buildings in Tokyo late Thursday but appeared to cause no damage and there was no tsunami warning.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes
Japan to enforce evacuation zone around plant: report
Tokyo (AFP) April 20, 2011
Japan is to begin enforcing the exclusion zone around its crippled nuclear plant after midnight on Friday, a report said Wednesday, as worries mounted over the effects of long-term radiation exposure. Prime Minister Naoto Kan will announce the decision to designate the 20-kilometre (12-mile) area around the Fukushima complex legally out-of-bounds when he visits the area on Thursday, the Kyod ... read more
Japan PM says country facing 'crisis within crisis'|
Japan advisor says nuclear threat receding: report
Japan PM declares no-go zone around nuclear plant
EDF wants nuclear crisis task force
A scratched coating heals itself
Samsung bites back at Apple with lawsuit
Primordial fear: why radiation is so scary
3-D towers of information double data storage areal density
Mekong River dam shelved
Britain's first desalination plant opens
NASA Specialists To Descend On Offutt
Azti-Tecnalia presents two energy efficiency systems for the fisheries sector
Melting ice on Arctic islands a major player in sea level rise
ESA-NASA Collaboration Furthers Sea-Ice Research
Melting ice on Arctic islands boosts sea levels: study
Arctic coastline eroding with warming
Can biochar help suppress greenhouse gases
Rotten meat doesn't stand a chance
Distribution of British soil bacteria mapped for the first time
Growing threat of wheat rust epidemics worldwide
Report Cites "Liquefaction" As Key To Much Of Japanese Earthquake Damage
Floods force hundreds to evacuate in central Canada
DLR Publishes The Results Of Its Volcanic Ash Measurement Flights
Liquefaction major culprit in Japan quake
Burkina Faso president assumes defence post
Work on Sudan split continues
Chinese aid good for Africa: ministers
Military helicopter crashes in Darfur, five dead: army
Television Breakups Can Cause Some Viewers Distress And Lead To More Media Use
Evolution of human 'super-brain' tied to development of bipedalism, tool-making
Green environments essential for human health
Asylum seekers torch Australian center
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|