Gov’t crisis center kept in dark over data on radiation dispersal

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The government crisis management center was not informed about data on the predicted dispersal of radioactive substances caused by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, top government spokesman Yukio Edano said Friday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano told a news conference that the premier’s office received a fax of the computer-simulated estimates about the dispersal of radioactive materials in the early hours of March 12, a day after the powerful earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis, but this remained in the hands of an official at the office and was not passed on to him or Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

This would mean that Kan, when he inspected the Fukushima plant by air on the morning of March 12, was unaware of such estimates using the Nuclear Safety Technology Center’s networked computer system known as SPEEDI, or system for prediction of environmental emergency dose information.

Edano said such data could have been meaningful for the government in issuing evacuation orders to residents near the Fukushima plant following the nuclear emergency.

The government had directed people within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima plant to evacuate and those in a 20- to 30-km radius to stay indoors or voluntarily leave the area on March 11 through 12. But information from SPEEDI was released only later.

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“We will thoroughly check the circumstances regarding why the data was not reported, and also want this to be reviewed by an independent panel probing the nuclear accident,” Edano said.

(Mainichi Japan) May 20, 2011

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