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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Seven out of 21so far

October 25, 2012


7 prefectures secure shelters for residents living in nuclear power plant zones



Seven of 21 prefectures in Japan with urgent protective action planning zones (UPZ) within 30 kilometers of the nation's nuclear power plants have already secured places for residents to evacuate in the event of a nuclear disaster, a Mainichi survey has found.

Another six prefectures have partially secured shelters for residents. However just two prefectures -- Yamaguchi and Fukuoka -- have settled on methods of evacuation, the survey found.

Sixteen of the prefectures have still not decided on a course of action in the distribution of iodine preparations, which are designed to protect people's thyroid glands from radioactive iodine, as officials wait for the government to reach a conclusion on the issue. As local bodies are now formulating regional disaster prevention plans, the government is likely to come under pressure to respond.

In its survey, the Mainichi Shimbun asked prefectural government departments in charge of nuclear plants whether shelters had been secured for UPZ residents, whether methods of evacuation had been secured, and whether residents would be permitted to evacuate by car, among other questions.

The prefectures of Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Tottori, Yamaguchi, Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki said they had secured places for residents to evacuate. Hokkaido, which hosts Hokkaido Electric Power Co.'s Tomari Nuclear Power Plant, has secured accommodation for residents in hotels, inns and other locations outside its UPZ. Ishikawa Prefecture, the home of Hokuriku Electric Power Co.'s Shika Nuclear Power Plant, had six cities and towns outside the UPZ agree to take in evacuees, and the prefecture is now in the process of deciding how to divide up shelters among the 150,000 residents who would be affected. Other prefectures have decided to have public facilities outside the zones accept evacuees.

The six prefectures of Aomori, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Fukui, Shiga and Kagoshima have partially secured destinations to which their UPZ residents can evacuate. Ibaraki Prefecture is mulling using the Tsukuba International Congress Center and other locations as shelters, wary of the fact that a nuclear disaster coupled with an earthquake or tsunami could limit the places to which residents could evacuate.

Ibaraki Prefecture has the largest number of people in a single UPZ, with some 930,000 residents living in the UPZ around Japan Atomic Power Co.'s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant.

"We can't think of methods of evacuation until we have decided on the scope of evacuations and the stage at which people should evacuate," a prefectural representative said.

Shizuoka Prefecture has about 740,000 people in the UPZ around Chubu Electric Power Co.'s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant. The prefectural government says evacuations would be a subject of future investigation, as they would need to be implemented over a wide area -- something the prefecture has never done before.

A total of 12 prefectures said they would suggest that residents evacuate by car or allow them to do so -- possibly conflicting with the central government's basic disaster plan which states that in the event of a multiple disaster, residents fleeing from a tsunami should evacuate on foot. The Fukushima Prefectural Government says it will allow people in sparsely populated areas to evacuate by car, but will call for people in cities to be prudent.

The Toyama Prefectural Government told the Mainichi that it has finished stockpiling iodine preparations for six cities in an applicable zone within a radius of 50 kilometers. This includes one dose for every person under the age of 40. Ibaraki Prefecture, which would need to stockpile preparations for about 550,000 people, says it will seek the opinion of experts after the government produces a concrete plan -- waiting for the Nuclear Regulation Authority to first make a move.

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