Some areas around Fukushima nuclear plant to remain no-go zone

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said today he intends to visit Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled nuclear facility as early as Saturday to explain local officials and residents about his government's plan.

Kan is expected to seek local approval of his government's plan to keep certain areas exposed to high levels of radiation around the plant as no-go zones even after a "cold shutdown" of the plant's damaged reactors is achieved, while briefing them on measures to help evacuees in the future, government sources said.

"We cannot deny the possibility that there would be some areas where it would be hard for residents to return to their homes over a long period of time," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in a news conference.

The top government spokesman said a final decision on the no-entry designation for some areas within 20 kilometers of the plant will be made after considering the outcome of a detailed radiation monitoring and decontamination plan, and consulting with the local communities.

Edano declined to say which areas would remain no-go zones and for how long.

On the idea of the government buying up land in long-term restricted areas or compensating owners of such land through a leasing arrangement, he said the government has yet to decide if it would do so and is studying whether decontamination will work for such areas.

The science ministry released its estimate Friday of annual accumulated radiation exposure.

Ministry data showed that over 100 millisieverts of radiation exposure were expected for 15 out of 50 surveyed points in the no-go zone, exceeding the International Commission on Radiological Protection's guideline of 20-100 millisieverts even at the time of an emergency.

The government has set a target deadline for completing the "Step 2" phase which includes achieving the cold shutdown by January.

Radioactive water had started leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, resulting in soaring levels of radiation after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the plant in north-east Japan on March 11 this year.

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