The areas surrounding the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant could remain uninhabitable for about 20 years, warns Japanese Government.
The plant is still leaking low-level radiation even though nearly six months have lapsed since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which had triggered a nuclear meltdown.
According to the Japanese Government said it could take 20 years for residents to return to higher radiation level areas and a decade to return to areas with half of those radiation levels.
Experts estimate that the decontamination procedure could cost Japan 80 billion pounds, the Daily Mail reports.
The Japanese Government has also unveiled guidelines with the aim of reducing radiation to half in two years, but high- level radiation areas could take much longer to reach safety levels. I can't deny the possibility that it could be a long time before people can return to and live in regions with high radiation levels", outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was quoted by domestic media, as telling Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato.
Japan has banned people from entering within 20 kilometres of the Fukushima plant, which is located 240 km northeast of Tokyo.
Around 80,000 people have been evacuated since the March 11 quake and tsunami and many are living in shelters or temporary homes.
The government's announcement follows the release of data showing radiation readings in 35 spots in the evacuation zone above the 20 millisieverts per year level deemed safe by the government.