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Japan mulls stricter evacuation zone near nuclear plant

April 20, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Japan is planning to more strictly enforce evacuations around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Evacuation orders have been issued for a 12-mile area around the plant, but many people have returned to check on their homes and collect things left behind.

Japanese authorities said Wednesday that they're growing more concerned about radiation risks. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said officials are considering setting up "caution areas" to limit people's access.

About 70,000 to 80,000 people were living in the 10 towns and villages within 12 miles of the plant before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami wrecked its power and cooling systems.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has begun distributing applications for compensation to residents forced to evacuate. The company is offering about $12,000 per household as interim compensation.

At the plant itself, workers have begun pumping radioactive water into a storage area. Completely removing the contaminated water is expected to take months.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.