Japan Ignored Own Radiation Forecasts


Gray smoke rises from the Fukushima plant in this March 21 file photo. (AP photo)

Japan has a state-of-the-art forecasting system that predicts the trajectory and magnitude of radiation leaked into the air, but Japan didn’t act on its own information, according to the Associated Press.

The forecasting system, SPEEDI, was built in 1986 at a cost of 11 billion yen ($140 million). The system uses weather conditions and the amount of radiation vented into the air to predict the size and trajectory of radioactive plumes. Despite taking part in a drill in Hamaoka, Prime Minister Naoto Kan didn’t understand how SPEEDI worked or its utility. Information from SPEEDI was not passed up the command chain and was not used in considering the evacuation area around the faltering Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Had the government considered information from SPEEDI, they would have known to evacuate Karino Elementary School, six miles away, rather than use it as an evacuation shelter.

Minuscule amounts of radioactive iodine-131 from Fukushima have now turned up as far away as Kansas.

Read more at Media and Foreign Policy


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