The Environment Ministry has decided to extend state-run radiation removal work for some municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture by up to three years, according to a well-placed source.
The government has been doing decontamination work since 2012 in 11 municipalities where residents were forced to evacuate due to the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The ministry held talks with the municipalities on revising its original road map that called for decontaminating all the areas by the end of fiscal 2013. The source cited delays in the decontamination work as the reason for the revisions and said the ministry’s decision will be announced shortly.
The maximum of three-year extensions will affect the municipalities of Minami-Soma, Iitate, Kawamata, Katsurao, Namie and Tomioka.
The decontamination effort was completed in the city of Tamura in June. The municipalities of Naraha, Okuma and Kawauchi are scheduled, barring unforeseen problems, to be completed by March 31, which closes out fiscal 2013.
For Futaba, which hosts the crippled nuclear plant with the town of Okuma, the decontamination effort is still in the planning stages due to the high levels of radiation there. No date on when the work there will finish has been determined.
The reasons given for the delays include the differing degrees of contamination in the individual municipalities, which range from below 20 millisieverts annually to 50 millisieverts, and the lack of progress in building intermediate facilities to store the recovered radioactive debris.
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