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Japan to Lift Evacuation Order for Some Areas Near Fukushima

Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Japan’s government plans to lift evacuation orders for some areas near the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant because it believes the risk of radiation exposure has declined.

The government will cancel the “evacuation preparation zone” outside a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius from the plant after local governments in the area complete reconstruction plans, Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of responding to the nuclear crisis, said today at a briefing.

“We are asking local governments to put together their plans in about a month,” he said in Tokyo. Five municipalities are included in the zone with a population of 58,500 people, the government said. The area is covered by one of several evacuation orders imposed after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling at the Fukushima plant, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

There’s a low possibility of hydrogen explosions like those that sent radiation spewing into the atmosphere in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, the government said in a statement. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, has spent five months trying to contain the situation after three reactors melted down.

Local government will draw up plans to rebuild their towns and villages including the decontamination of affected areas and the restoration of water supplies and public services such as hospitals and schools.

The government will let residents and business operators from within 3 kilometers of the plant return to check on their homes and offices as early as this month.

It will also put together a plan this month for decontaminating other areas around the plant, which is about 220 kilometers north of Tokyo.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chisaki Watanabe in Tokyo at cwatanabe5@bloomberg.net; Yuji Okada in Tokyo at yokada6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Langan at plangan@bloomberg.net

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