Japanese officials used claims of inaccuracy to divert release of critical radiation data despite validating concerns

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Japanese officials have failed to justify why it took them over a month to disclose large-scale releases of radioactive material in mid-March at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A special government tool had been producing critical maps, and other data, hourly since the first hours after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, some of the maps clearly showed a plume of nuclear contamination extending to the northwest of the plant, beyond the areas that were initially evacuated.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency and the science ministry had data on the spread of radioactive materials that could have prevented unnecessary radiation exposure, but decided to sit on it instead of reporting it to the crisis management center at the prime minister’s office.

Accurate or Not?

The ministry has argued that the data was only predictions and releasing it could have caused unnecessary public disorder, and since the tsunami had knocked out sensors at the plant: without measurements of how much radiation was actually being released by the plant, it was impossible to measure how far the radioactive plume was stretching.

“Without knowing the strength of the releases, there was no way we could take responsibility if evacuations were ordered,” said Keiji Miyamoto of the Education Ministry’s nuclear safety division.

However as it turned out later its predictions were fairly accurate, yet SPEEDI data was never used in mapping out the evacuation routes for Fukushima Prefecture residents.

A new report from Japan’s science ministry casts serious doubt on the officials that the readings were inaccurate, and exposes that central government confirmed that the  SPEEDI radiation fallout simulations were accurate, and reliable, but still refused to release the data for more than one month after the nuclear accident in Fukushima.

The science ministry’s report reveals that not only were ministry officials worried about the simulations, they also double checked the physical levels.

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