In Brief

Japan to Partly Lift Fukushima Evacuation Order

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. (Image credit: TEPCO)

Nearly three years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Japanese government will for the first time allow a small number of people to return to their homes, officials said Monday. On April 1, the government plans to lift its evacuation order for about 300 people with homes in Tamura city, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) west of the destroyed nuclear power plant, AFP reported. The order was put in place after a massive tsunami — triggered by Japan's powerful 2011 Tohoku earthquake — crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Residents can choose whether or not to move back home, but they will lose their monthly compensation for emotional distress caused by the accident if they return, officials said. However, government payments for job loss and property loss will continue. Officials hope to allow up to 30,000 people to move back within the nuclear exclusion zone, created to protect residents from the harmful effects of leaking radiation. Areas will be declared suitable for habitation if the maximum exposure level is 20 millisieverts of radiation a year.

Read more: Fukushima Radiation Leak: 5 Things You Should Know

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Becky Oskin
Contributing Writer
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.