Naraha Reopening Delay Exposes Complex Problems With Returning Evacuees

The government announced a delay in reopening the town of Naraha near Fukushima Daiichi. The reopening would be delayed a few weeks to early September. Officials cited that some residents “were not ready to return” but didn’t elaborate as to what that actually meant.

Some of the actual complaints by citizens from the town were:
Concerns about radiation levels
Lack of medical services
Lack of public transportation
Hospitals, stores and other facilities are not open
No public housing for those who lost homes in the 2011 disaster
Concerns about radiation in municipal water supply
Radiation hot spots around the town

These issues do not seem to be something that could be resolved in a few weeks.  The industry minister in charge of the disaster zone claimed radiation levels were not a problem saying levels were “not dangerous enough to continue forcing evacuation on residents who want to return home.” He also claimed that continued evacuation was having an impact on evacuees heath. He went as far as to blame evacuees for their concerns about the safety of the city water supply, insisting it was a psychological issue.” What the minister considered a psychological issue is the city’s water reservoir that has 18,700 bq/kg of cesium in the soil at the bottom of it. Nothing has been done to attempt to remediate the reservoir if it would even be possible to do so. 

Doubts exist in the progress being made to prepare the town to reopen and in the true intentions of government officials. If Naraha is the test case for fully reopening a town it does not bode well for the government plan to force everyone to return to the evacuation zone.

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