In the wake of declining radiation levels and increasing evidence Tepco has the long-term situation at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant under control, the U.S. is now said to be rethinking its 80km exclusion zone around the plant.
In fact, it's becoming increasingly clear the original recommedation was pulled out of somebody's arse in a paranoid fit. According to Associated Press, on Thursday U.S. nuclear officials told an independent panel that the recommedation was based on imcomplete information and assumptions about the reactors' condition that have since proven false.
In actuality there was very little need for any exclusion zone from the beginning. On only one day (March 15th) radiation levels actually dangerous to human health were detected, and that was at the main gate. Of course, an exclusion zone of some kind was and is both sensible and appropriate. But a little perspective is in order. Nobody has actually died from radiation poisoning. Indeed, only three people are reported to have been exposed to dangerous levels, and to my knowledge they didn't develop any symptoms. In fact, nothing has been reported about them for several days, and I think it safe to assume they have either been released (to face a lifetime of discrimination) or are still under observation in hospital.
While it's true the Fukushima plant crisis is a major disaster, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, probably billions, the bulk of expense will come from dealing with public fears of radiation and relatively little will be spent because of radiation itself.