” In a preparatory step toward allowing them to return permanently, the central government will allow nuclear evacuees from Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, to stay overnight in their homes on a temporary basis for a three-month period starting Aug. 31, officials said.
The plan was presented at a meeting of town assembly members on Monday.
The government will allow 1,192 people from 555 households to temporarily return to the town’s Yamakiya district, which falls in the band measuring 30 to 40 km from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Of 11 administrative regions in the district, one is currently designated as a residence-restricted area with access allowed for temporary visits only, while the remaining 10 are designated as areas preparing for the lifting of the government’s evacuation order.
It is the first time that people will be allowed to stay overnight in a residence-restricted area, while it is the fourth case in which overnight stays will be allowed in an evacuation zone. Similar measures have been taken for evacuees from Miyakoji district in Tamura, the village of Kawachi and the town of Naraha.
The government will formally adopt the plan after hearing opinions from the town assembly. Whether to lift the evacuation order will be decided in November, following the three-month period.
The town is currently aiming to have the evacuation order lifted in spring 2016.
A government official told the town assembly that the average radiation level in residential areas has dropped by half from the 1.04 microsieverts per hour recorded before decontamination work was started.
In seeking local support for the plan, the official stressed that utilities such as gas and electricity have been largely restored.
The government guidelines for the prefecture’s reconstruction revised in June call for lifting the residence-restricted designation and designation of areas targeted for early lifting of evacuation advisory. ”