The Japanese government has set a 12 mile restricted zone surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in Futaba, Japan. Expected to last at least for the next 6 months, evacuated residents are risking fines and jail time to return to their homes and retrieve personal belongings. In mid March the area was quickly emptied and evacuees were told they could return in a few days. As a result many just grabbed the essentials and have been without access to their homes ever since.
The radioactive levels in the protected zone are relatively low, the current medical risk is long term exposure. Residents and the local mayor, Katsunobu Sakurai, are upset with seemingly arbitrary 6 mile radius around the plant.
“It feels like some outsider who doesn’t know anything about our geography sat at a desk and drew these circles. The zones have zero scientific basis,” Sakurai said. “Radiation doesn’t travel in neat circles. Just putting up circles around the plant is unreasonable.”
While plans are in development to allow short bus trips to retrieve items, the two mile area closest to the plant will remain completely off limits. Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said they will do everything possible to expedite the cleanup and allow residents to return to their homes as soon as possible.