Sunday, August 9, 2015

4 Years After Fukushima Nuclear Calamity, Japanese Divided on Whether to Return

IITATE, Japan — For four years, an eerie quiet has pervaded the clusters of farmhouses and terraced rice paddies of this mountainous village, emptied of people after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 25 miles away, spewed radiation over a wide swath of northeastern Japan.
Now, Iitate’s valleys are filled again with the bustle of human activity, as heavy machinery and troops of workers wearing face masks scoop up contaminated soil into black garbage bags.
They are part of a more than $10 billion effort by the central government in Tokyo to clean up fallout from the 2011 accident and allow many of the 80,000 displaced residents of Iitate (pronounced EE-tah-tay) and 10 other evacuated communities around the plant to go home.
Last month, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seemed to take a big step toward that goal by adopting a plan that would permit two-thirds of evacuees to return by March 2017, the sixth anniversary of the disaster.

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