TOKYO, May 25 (UPI) -- The level of radioactive contamination in soil around Japan's damaged Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant is comparable to the Chernobyl disaster, a study says.
A study conducted by the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission found soil contamination with radioactive cesium in 230-square-mile area was comparable to the Chernobyl indicators, ITAR-Tass reported Wednesday.
In the hardest-hit areas to the northwest of the damaged plant, contamination levels would mean living in these areas during one year would give a radiation exposure dose of 5 millisieverts, which is lower than the level of 20 millisieverts set by the Japanese government.
However, before the residents of evacuated areas are allowed to return to their homes the authorities should carry out soil decontamination, the AEC said.
After the Fukushima-1 accident the Japanese government evacuated about 80,000 people from the area around the plant, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said the possibility of their return to their homes could be considered no earlier than the beginning of next year.