The Japanese government released a new report this week which blasts the response to the 2011 Fukushima disaster. It says that the tsunami estimates were well below the bounds of realistic expectation, the way the public was notified about the spread of radioactive materials was inappropriate, and that the nuclear safety rules overall were ineffective.
This coming after the Japanese government admitted another case of withholding reliable and important information from the public, and Science minister Hirofumi Hirano announced a new investigation as to why data regarding the spread of radioactive materials from the United States was not published or used to make evacuation decisions.
The map clearly showed the trail of radioactive materials had already spread past the initial evacuation zone to the northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The radiation levels were far in excess of the emergency limits, and in less than 8 hours, residents in some of the most affected areas had already exceeded the average amount that a citizen would expect to receive in a whole year.
The DOE maps were passed to the Japanese government, which did not have full knowledge of what was happening with the plant and had failed to inform people living in the area which direction they should head to avoid the fallout.
Experts have said that the use of the data would have required additional evacuation plans and would have undoubtedly prevented unnecessary exposures. Central government officials in Tokyo admitted that confusion among government departments meant the map was never used and evacuees were not directed away from areas where radiation from the leaking nuclear plant was spiking.
“It is extremely regrettable that this information was not shared or utilized properly within the government and I have no words to apologize, especially to the disaster victims,” Industry Minister Yukio Edano, top government spokesman during the crisis, told a news conference.
The US Department of Energy, provided the data through the Japanese Foreign Ministry to the Science Ministry and the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency on March 18th and 20th last year, and posted the map on its website on March 23.
Neither of the Japanese agencies released the information, or relayed it to the Prime Minister. Senior Science Ministry official Itaru Watanabe says he thought the US government should release the information. He said the Japanese government publicized the results of its own radiation surveys at 180 locations.
The Asahi Shimbun has constantly reported on what it calls bureaucratic stonewalling when it comes to information related to the spread of radiation, and has pushed extensively for the government to release more detailed data.
Source: JiJi Press
Source: The Asahi Shimbun
Source: The Japan Times
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