Some Fukushima evacuees have been given the OK to return to their homes three years after a disastrous meltdown at the nuclear power plant turned the area into a ghost town.
"Everything in Fukushima has changed. Crews are digging, bagging and hauling away contaminated earth. 142,000 people remain evacuees across the region." (Via CNN)
According to World Nuclear News, the Japanese government marked Miyakoji as "ready to return" two years ago, based on tests showing low levels of radiation in the air.
Last August, the Japanese government launched a program allowing some residents to return on a limited basis, but this is the first time any have been given the green light to move back into their old homes full time. (Via The Japan Times)
Around 350 residents have been allowed to return, although some are still hesitant, especially those with small children. Still, a doctor at Fukushima Medical University Hospital believes they shouldn't worry.
"The radiation released from Fukushima was much less than at Chernobyl, he says. Children here got a much smaller dose." (Via BBC)
The Fukushima disaster, brought on by an earthquake and tsunami near Japan in 2011, was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and the radiation could take decades to clean up. (Via RT, National Geographic)
And even though the air in Miyakoji has tested safe, the water throughout the whole region is still a major problem.
Hundreds of tons of groundwater seep into the plant and become contaminated every day. Tokyo Electric Power Company's primary solution has been to collect the water in hundreds of storage containers, but it can't seem to keep up. (Via Euronews)
In February, PBS reported TEPCO had tested a promising water filtration system that had cleaned up 12.5 million gallons of water in trial runs.
But since then, the system has been plagued with problems. The company says filtration has been halted multiple times this month due to equipment malfunctions. (Via TEPCO)
But for now, the problem is mostly contained at the reactor site and shouldn't affect Miyakoji. It's unclear when, if ever, the remaining evacuees will be allowed to return home, but decontamination efforts are ongoing.