Over 80% Homes In Fukushima Yet To Be Decontaminated

Even after 20 months since a quake-triggered tsunami wrecked Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, more than 80 percent of the homes in seven prefectures around the disabled plant are yet to be cleared of radioactive substances it sent out following the accident.

Japan's Environment Ministry studied the progress of government-funded decontamination work being undertaken by 58 cities, towns and villages in the affected prefectures around Fukushima as at the end of August.

It says work had been completed at 69 percent of educational facilities such as schools and childcare centers and 51 percent of the roads marked for the cleaning operation. Almost 38 percent of parks and sports facilities have been decontaminated, Japan's NHK broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

But the Ministry found that among nearly 100,000 homes slated for removal of radioactive particles, the process was finished at only about 17,000 or 18 percent of them.

Meanwhile, the U.N. nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has decided to open an office in Fukushima to assist in the decontamination work.

The March 11, 2011 Fukushima accident sent radioactive materials into the ocean and the atmosphere, contaminated the food and water supply, and forced the evacuation of 160,000 residents. The accident the worst since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe forced the Japanese government to formulate a new energy policy that seeks to do away with nuclear power by 2030s.

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