Photo/IllutrationHiroaki Hiruta, left, exchanges greetings with an official who came to pick up raw milk from the Hiruta dairy farm on Jan. 24. (Takuya Isayama)

  • Photo/Illustraion

The first shipment of raw milk has been made from an area once declared an evacuation zone after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, paving the way for public consumption.

Eighteen cows were milked starting at about 8 a.m. on Jan. 24 at Hiruta dairy farm in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture.

About 400 liters of unpasteurized milk were collected and shipped in a tanker truck to a processing plant.

The JA Zen-Noh Fukushima, part of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, will conduct a radiation test on the milk. If the product passes, it will be mixed with other raw milk from Fukushima before being distributed for consumption.

"Today marks the starting line," said Hiroaki Hiruta, 48, who operates the farm. "We want to continue producing safe and delicious milk."

After the Fukushima nuclear accident, residents in 11 cities, towns and villages were ordered to evacuate due to high radiation levels. Naraha’s order was lifted in September 2015.

Immediately after the March 2011 nuclear accident, the shipment of raw milk from all of Fukushima Prefecture was prohibited, but the ban was lifted for all but the 11 evacuated municipalities by October 2011.