TOKYO – Japanese authorities may for the first time strictly enforce their evacuation zone around a crippled nuclear plant, citing concerns Wednesday over radiation risks for residents returning to check on their homes.
About 70,000-80,000 people were living in the 10 towns and villages within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami wrecked its power and cooling systems, setting off the worst nuclear power crisis since the 1986 catastrophe at Chernobyl.
Virtually all of the residents left when the government ordered the area evacuated on March 12, but some occasionally have returned and police cannot legally block them. There currently is no penalty for violating the zone.
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