TOMIOKA, Japan (AP) — Part of the town of Tomioka, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is still a no-go zone 10 years after a meltdown sent radioactive fallout over the area.
The no-go zone is about 12% of the town, but was home to about one-third of Tomioka’s population of 16,000. It remains closed after the rest of the town in northeastern Japan was reopened in 2017.
Only those with official permission from the town office can enter the area for a daytime visit.
Part of the area, called Yonomori, used to be a commercial center dotted with shops, houses, a 7-Eleven convenience store and a popular regional supermarket chain called York Benimaru.
The area also includes Yonomori Park, surrounded by streets lined with cherry trees, where townspeople used to gather for “hanami” parties, picnicking under the blossoms and walking through a tunnel of flowering trees.
This part of the no-go zone is designated a special recovery site and officials want to reopen it in 2023. The other half of the zone is a nuclear waste dump, an area filled with black bags containing radioactive soil, chopped down tree branches and other contaminated debris collected from across the town. The bags will eventually be sent to a midterm waste storage facility in Futaba and Okuma, the two towns that host the nuclear plant.