Workers walk beside bags of contaminated earth at a collection site in Naraha town in Fukushima prefecture on 13 June 2013. Photo: AFP

NARAHA, Japan, 6 September 2015 (AP) – Japan's government on Saturday lifted a 4 1/2-year-old evacuation order for the northeastern town of Naraha that had sent all of the town's 7,400 residents away following the disaster at the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant.

Naraha became the first to get the order lifted among seven municipalities forced to empty entirely due to radiation contamination following the massive earthquake and tsunami that sent the plant's reactors into triple meltdowns in March 2011.

The central government has said radiation levels in Naraha have fallen to levels deemed safe following decontamination efforts.

According to a government survey, however, 53 percent of the evacuees from Naraha, which is 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the nuclear plant, say they're either not ready to return home permanently or are undecided. Some say they've found jobs elsewhere over the past few years, while others cite radiation concerns. […]

Only about 100 of the nearly 2,600 households have returned since a trial period began in April. Last year, the government lifted evacuation orders for parts of two nearby towns, but only about half of their former residents have returned. […]

Residents have been given personal dosimeters to check their own radiation levels. To accommodate their concerns, the town is also running 24-hour monitoring at a water filtration plant, testing tap water for radioactive materials. [more]

Japan lifts evacuation order for town near doomed nuke plant

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