ENVIRONMENT | Cesar Tordesillas, Japan

Japan to widen nuclear evacuation zone

Japanese nuclear experts are considering widening the evacuation zone in the event of a nuclear disaster, according to a Reuters report.

It is considering creating a 30-kilometer or 18-mile radius around nuclear power plants where residents should be ready to take shelter or prepare to evacuate, a draft document compiled by the NSC secretariat and released by the NSC on Thursday showed.

This compares with a current zone of a radius up to 10 km.

It is also considering recommending that local authorities in a 50-km radius from plants be prepared to provide iodine tablets that help prevent thyroid cancers from radiation exposure.

The committee is planning to revise the draft document and finalise recommendations on evacuation zones next month. It plans to come up with a mid-term review this year, while it may take years to fully revise the guidelines, an official at the NSC secretariat said.

About 80,000 residents were forced to evacuate from a 20-km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the radiation crisis and some 30,000 more left the 20-30-km radius zone, though some are starting to come back.

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