TOKYO, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The Japanese government said it plans to buy 9.3 square miles of land surrounding the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant for a waste storage facility.
The area the government plans to acquire spans three towns surrounding the nuclear power station that melted down after a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
The massive plot the government plans to buy includes a buffer zone surrounding plant officials have deemed uninhabitable because of sustained radiation levels, Kyodo News said Saturday.
The Japanese environment ministry said it is setting aside about $200 billion to acquire the land, which will serve as the ultimate holding center for anything tainted by radiation from the Fukushima disaster. Residents whose home are within the plot will not be permitted to return but will be compensated for their homes.
About 150,000 people from the area surrounding the plants remain in temporary housing.
The government has faced harsh criticism for the pace of cleanup efforts.
The full cost of the cleanup effort is expected to top $1 trillion, the government said.