via world-nuclear-news.org / August 8th, 2013 / Preparations can begin for residents to return to the town of Kawamata near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The town was the final evacuated municipality to be redesignated.

Separate from the evacuation area defined by a 20 kilometre radius from Fukushima Daiichi, the area near Kawamata was evacuated once it was known that radioactive particles had been carried by the wind from the damaged power plant. While limited access to the town has been permitted, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has now announced that controls on entry to most of Kawamata town, northwest of the plant, have been relaxed today.

The redesignation will allow decontamination work to begin and for essential infrastructure and services to be reconstructed. Residents may return at will to visit and work without the use of protective equipment. The only restriction is that they may not stay overnight. The radiation dose rate for a person living in these areas would be less than 20 millisieverts per year – the government’s benchmark for permanent return.

Restricted access will remain in just a small part of Kawamata as dose levels in that area could exceed 20 mSv. People will be permitted to these ‘restricted’ areas to carry out specific jobs without being monitored or using protective equipment. People entering these zones are advised to avoid doing so unnecessarily, to refrain from working outdoors, to use cars rather than to walk for more than a short period and to wash upon re-entering a building.

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