Just over eight years since the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan was crippled by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, officials revealed Tuesday they plan to partially lift an evacuation order for one of the two towns were the facility is located.
Part of the Okuma will reopen on April 10, according to Cabinet Office official Yohei Ogino.
It will mark the first time the evacuation order has been lifted in the town since the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami killed more than 18,000 people
The Fukushima Dai-ichi, or No. 1, plant was heavily damaged in the disaster with three reactors having meltdowns, while a fourth had structural damage. Radiation spewed into the air, and highly contaminated water ran into the Pacific.
Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe described the decision as a “very welcome move,” a town official told Agence France-Presse
“We will be able to take the first step forward (toward reconstruction) eight years later,” the official quoted Watanabe as saying.
In September, government officials acknowledged that a former worker of the Fukushima nuclear plant has died as a result of radiation exposure. It’s not clear when the man died, however, the country’s health and labor ministry said at the time the man died of cancer triggered by exposure to radiation and that his family should receive workers’ compensation.
The government has lifted evacuation orders across to other towns across the region affected by the meltdown, allowing residents to return as attempts have been made to decontaminate topsoil and clean other affected areas.
The evacuation order, however, will remain in place for difficult-to-return zones that still registering high radiation levels. As of the end of February, only 374 people were registered as residents of the affected areas, according to the Japan Times.
Fox News' Lucia Suarez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.