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Friday, June 17, 2011

Evacuation urged for radioactive hot spots

Recommendation to leave limited areas outside 20-km zone won't be mandatory


Staff writer

The government said Thursday it will recommend the evacuation of residents living in radioactive hot spots outside the no-entry zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

In-depth monitoring by the government found the hot spots outside the 20-km evacuation zone in numerous places, including in Date and Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture where levels of radiation exceeded the equivalent of 20 millisieverts per year.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, the results of the monitoring showed that the hot spots were limited in scope, unlike the situation in the evacuation zone, and therefore the government determined that "an across-the-board evacuation or restrictions of industrial activities" were unnecessary.

But at the same time, Edano explained that the government decided to encourage their evacuation because it couldn't completely rule out the possibility of residents being exposed to more than the 20-millisievert benchmark.

"The areas which would exceed 20 millisieverts in the course of a year were limited and we did not find a wide spread in the region," Edano said.

"But it is natural for residents to feel anxious and we cannot rule out the possibility of exceeding 20 millisieverts depending on people's lifestyles away from the areas with high radiation . . . so we have decided to call people's attention, provide information, and support and promote evacuation."

Households in hot spot zones will be contacted individually by their local governments.

Those who wish to leave will be issued documents certifying them as disaster victims and given government support to evacuate, while those who wish to remain will be able to continue to do so.

"We would especially like to discuss with local governments (ways) to urge families with pregnant women or children to evacuate," Edano said.

Because the radiation level is likely to change over time, Edano said the government will be flexible in lifting the recommendation.

"The level of environmental radiation changes, so we will conduct monitoring regularly and continue to provide information to the residents and local governments," Edano said. "If the level goes down, we will . . . be flexible about lifting the warning."



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