Japan Expands Evacuation Zone Again as Radiation Rises

Illustration for article titled Japan Expands Evacuation Zone Again as Radiation Rises

The Japanese government has tapped five towns and cities outside of the current mandatory evacuation zone surrounding the Fukushima plant for mandatory departure, after the detection of escalating radiation levels. The evac order, however, will take up to a month.

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We're not sure why the government would tell residents that they're in danger while at the same time taking so long to execute the evacuation—the less exposure, the better. The current radius is also still far less than other nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency have asked for—Japan's danger zone is a little over 18 miles around the stricken plant, compared to the 50 miles that American citizens have been told to observe. [Kyodo News & NYT]

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DISCUSSION

According to the articles, they're not evacuating yet because there's still only a possibility that the towns will see exposure levels high enough to warrant evacuation over the course of a year. As such, there's not a real imperative to try and move the people this instant when the surrounding infrastructure is so torn up that evacuating entire towns unnecessarily is just that: unnecessary. This will allow people to get ready for the move instead of rushing them out of their houses.

Regarding the 50 mile evacuation zone recommended by the US, a committee within the NRC gave that recommendation and has since been challenged to back up their statement. As far as I've heard, they have no technical reason for recommending an evacuation zone that far from the plant. However, given that they're only really speaking to the few Americans in the area, a "better safe than sorry" approach is easier to recommend, since the logistical issues associated with the evacuation of entire towns don't apply to only a couple hundred people.