23 Janvier 2015
January 23, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) will start a bus service on Jan. 31 that runs through an area with high radiation levels near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, officials said Jan. 22.
The service, operated by JR East’s Mito branch, will be the first public transportation in the “difficult-to-return zone,” the government-designated area where evacuees will not be allowed to return home at least until March 2017.
The route will connect Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha and Haranomachi Station in Minami-Soma on the JR Joban Line. Train services between the stations have been suspended since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear disaster in March 2011.
As an alternative to the suspended rail operations, the bus service will cover a 46-kilometer north-south stretch of National Route No. 6, according to the JR East Mito office. The section through the difficult-to-return zone will be 14 km.
Last summer, members of the Cabinet Office’s team in charge of assisting the lives of disaster victims measured radiation levels along the 46-km route.
When they moved at speeds of 40 kph, they were exposed to about 1.2 microsieverts of radiation in an hour, according to the team.
The bus will run once in the morning and once in the afternoon in both directions with no stops along the route. The trip between Tatsuta and Haranomachi stations is estimated to take about one hour.
The difficult-to-return zone includes areas of the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which jointly host the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.