Evacuation orders lifted in three “difficult-to-return” zones: Yonomori, Ono, Futaba train station vicinity

Before opening of the JR Joban train line on March 14, 2020, evacuation orders were gradually lifted starting March 4 in the vicinity of three train stations that had been designated as difficult-to-return zones (due to radiation levels after the nuclear accident): Yonomori Station (Tomioka), Ono Station (Okuma), and Futaba Station (Futaba). This was the first time evacuation orders were lifted in Futaba since the nuclear accident, and the first time for any difficult-to-return zone. The area represents just a small portion of the total area of difficult-to-return zones, and the actual return of residents is not expected to happen here soon.

The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that when officials made the decision to lift the evacuation orders, it had not actually been confirmed that the air exposure doses in a part of Okuma were actually below the level required for lifting evacuation orders (i.e., 3.8 microseiverts per hour). The government states that it was able to confirm the level was below 3.8 microseiverts per hour, but this level was based on calculation using the government calculation of 20 milliseiverts per year, and that would mean that it was significantly higher than the maximum levels permitted for public exposure (1 millisievert per year) and for radiation control areas (5 millisieverts per year).