Radiation info not passed on in Japan
Japanese authorities failed to disclose details about the spread of radiation spewing from a crippled nuclear plant last year, leaving some evacuees fleeing in the same direction as the emissions.
News that Japan’s nuclear watchdog and the science and technology ministry sat on the information collected by US military aircraft is likely to add to mistrust of nuclear power just days after the government approved the restart of two idled reactors.
An earthquake and tsunami last March, devastated the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo, triggering explosions and meltdowns and causing about 160,000 people to flee the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
US craft gathered radiation data from March 17-19 over a 45km radius and found that people in an area about 25 km northwest of the plant - where some people were moving to - were exposed to the annual permissible level of radiation within eight hours, Japanese media said.
The information was passed to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and the science and technology ministry but neither passed it to the prime minister’s office, which was overseeing the evacuations.
“It is regrettable that this information was not shared or utilised properly within the government and I have no words to apologise, especially to the victims,” Industry Minister Yukio Edano said.
Two panels of experts are close to concluding their investigations into the crisis. All of Japan’s 50 reactors have been off line for safety checks since the disaster but on Saturday, the government approved the resumption of operations on two reactors despite public opposition.