Government ignored U.S. radiation monitoring data in days after 3/11
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Hiroo Sunaoshi and Kazuyuki Kanai
June 18, 2012
Japanese government officials took little notice of up-to-the-minute high radiation measurements provided by the U.S. Energy Department.
The Energy Department used its Aerial Monitoring System (AMS) between March 17 and 19, 2011
The data was provided to Japanese government officials, but not released to the public.
DOE vs. SPEEDI
A major difference between the SPEEDI forecast and the Energy Department observations is that the U.S. data concerns actual radiation measurements taken over an area with a radius of about 45 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
1 Year in 8 Hours
The monitoring showed that communities in a northwestern direction from the plant, including Namie and Iitate, had radiation levels exceeding 125 microsieverts per hour over an area as wide as 30 kilometers.
Exposure to that level of radiation for eight hours would exceed what is deemed by the government to be safe over the course of a year.
Official: “No thought given to using the provided data for the benefit of evacuating residents”
When asked by The Asahi Shimbun why the information was not used to implement evacuation plans, [Itaru Watanabe, the deputy director-general of the Science and Technology Policy Bureau] said: “While I now feel that the information should have been released immediately, at that time there was no thought given to using the provided data for the benefit of evacuating residents. We should have also passed on the information to the NSC.”
NISA “will not publicly admit” receiving data
Even though 15 months have passed since the data was passed on by the U.S. government, officials of NISA’s Nuclear Safety Public Relations and Training Division said they were still looking into whether they obtained the information in response to repeated requests for interviews from The Asahi Shimbun.
Although NISA officials will not publicly admit it, several government sources said the radiation map information was passed on to NISA.
One former high-ranking NISA official recalled that a large map of radiation levels was posted on a whiteboard in a NISA office used at the time as the central government’s emergency response center.
Tokushi Shibata, professor emeritus of radiation management at the University of Tokyo, said: “It was a fatal error in judgment. If the data had been released immediately, the situation of residents evacuating in the wrong direction and becoming exposed to radiation could have been avoided.”
Published: June 18th, 2012 at 3:52 am ET