Monday, June 18, 2012

(Now They Tell Us) "Miscommunication" Prevented Radiation Monitoring on March 12 Last Year

The article that appeared in Asahi Shinbun on February 24 this year says the Self Defense Force made one of their helicopter available for the government to conduct an aerial survey of radiation in the early afternoon of March 12, 2011, before the Reactor 1 building blew out at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

From what I gather from the article, the timeline was something like this:

  1. Sometime in the morning on March 12, 2011, Ministry of Education and Science asked for a SDF helicopter to be used for radiation monitoring.

  2. Ministry of Defense agreed, and sent one medium-size helicopter at 11:10AM from its base in Sendai, Miyagi that had been used for disaster relief to Rokkasho-mura, where the Nuclear Safety Technology Center staff were supposed to be waiting.

  3. The helicopter landed in the meeting place (a park in Rokkasho-mura) at 1PM, but there was no one waiting for the helicopter. So it took off at 1:10PM.

  4. The Nuclear Safety Technology Center in Rokkasho-mura received the instruction from the Ministry of Education at 1:30PM. Two people went to the meeting place, and waited for the SDF helicopter to show up for one hour from 2:40PM.

  5. The center assumed the SDF heli was busy doing the disaster relief, and decided to drive to Fukushima the next day (March 13) at 9AM.

  6. The aerial radiation survey was then scheduled on March 15, but that was canceled because of the information that "Reactor 4 blew up".

  7. The aerial survey wasn't carried out until March 25.

The Nuclear Safety Technology Center's Rokkasho-mura branch had the staff and the equipment to conduct aerial radiation surveys.

What is wrong with this picture?

First, it confirms that the Ministry of Education and Science knew the radiation from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was leaking in the morning of March 12, 2011.

Second, neither the SDF nor the Nuclear Safety Technology Center bothered to try to contact each other when there was no one at the meeting place (Rokkasho-mura park), or when there was no helicopter. I doubt that they had a direct means of communication, but the SDF helicopter pilot could have contacted the base who could have contacted the SDF headquarters/Ministry of Defense who could have contacted the Ministry of Education.

The Asahi article specifically says that the head of the Radiation group at the Emergency Response Center (ERC) under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was a bureaucrat on assignment from the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education blames the ERC of course, saying "It was the ERC under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry who proposed an aerial [radiation] monitoring. It was the ERC who coordinated with the Ministry of Defense. We immediately conveyed the ERC messages to the Nuclear Safety Technology Center."

Third, Asahi didn't report it until February this year.

Fourth, I managed to miss the news when it appeared in February this year.

The US Department of Energy and the US military were conducting the aerial survey using Global Hawk drones from March 17 to 19 last year, and they SHARED the results with the Japanese government. The Japanese government sat on it. Asahi Shinbun first reported it in March 24 last year, and it just reported the news again on June 18 this year.

According to the June 18 article, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the fax from the US showing the contamination map created from the actual data collected by Global Hawk drones via the US Embassy in Tokyo on March 18 and 20 last year. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Asahi that it immediately forwarded the fax to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Ministry of Education. NISA and the Ministry of Education both sat on it. Probably because it came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs know anything about radiation? Right?

(It is also possible that "immediate" in the minds of the officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was "several hours later" in a reality-based world.)

Moreover, Mainichi Daily (English paper) reported on March 19 last year that the Japanese government was in possession of near-real time video footage of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant taken from Global Hawk, with the permission from the US to release to the general public. The Japanese government sat on it. I think it is still sitting on it.

Japan was the worst possible place for a major nuclear accident to occur - bureaucracy that plays bureaucracy in an extreme emergency, politicians who cannot lead in an extreme emergency, and the populace who cannot even properly "panic" in an extreme emergency.


Anonymous said...

The Japanese government are total incompetent fucking bastards, they had data from the Americans but because it came from "foreigners" it was deemed not credible, Japan is a country in dire need of a revolution and civil unrest to shake people out of their comatose states... this accident couldnt have happened in a worse culture, a culture of cover up, lies and people keeping their mouths shut even when its time to speak out...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I don't think Japan has a lock on the worst place to have a nuclear accident. I don't know any country that has had a major nuclear accident that went well. Every accident is surrounded in secrecy, lies and distortions. The US government has had the ability to categorize nuclear emissions since the first days of atomic weapons testing and by the mid 1950's the US was detecting activity from the Soviets with U2 overflights. The High-Altitude Sampling Program or HASP was run from 1957-1963 when atmospheric testing was finally banned. These missions bolstered the "Constant Phoenix" program started in 1947 that runs to the present day.

With all of this detection capability the US still had to officially guess at the emissions made at TMI while this same system was used a decade later to help the the world force the former USSR to admit that Chernobyl was a major problem.

Just about every country with a nuclear program is full of bureaucrats who's only job is to confuse and obscure the facts when it suits them to insure the status quo is maintained. The world is also full of regular people that refuse to contemplated the facts and are happy to be misled as long as "everything is going to be alright". It isn't really hard to mislead people when most refuse to believe there might be a problem.

Beppe said...

Why isn't fallout diffusion simulation data (SPEEDI system) published daily for all japanese npps, like wheather simulations are? Why wait for an accident to happen?
German and Swiss metereological agencies have done it for Fukushima for months.
Is anyone afraid that the population will turn against nuclear energy if they notice that they have, say, 25% chances to be under the radioactive plume should the nearby plant blow up?

Anonymous said...

Surely a daily simulation report would make the "cold shutdown" facade harder to maintain. The reactors have been leaking/emitting into the air and water for over 15 months. They also would have to update the contamination map.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that the same thing would happen anywhere else, it's not just Japan. Governments and people in general are ignorant and stupid. I still see people arguing that nuclear plant radiation is the same as radiation in plants or radiation from sunlight.

There also seems to be a lot of people happily proclaiming that Japan needed a nuclear meltdown and trying to spin it as a vastly positive thing. I'd like to cause a nuclear meltdown in their pants.

I do agree that Japan is especially bad because they have nowhere to go, so there's more incentive to pretend there isn't a problem. It's also a bad location for a nuclear disaster - surrounded by ocean on all sides, etc.

Anonymous said...

(cr here)

..."the Japanese government was in possession of near-real time video footage of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant taken from Global Hawk, with the permission from the US to release to the general public."...

What a difference it would have made for the Japanese people if only the (insert suitable adjectives conveying corruption and lack of ethics here: too early in the morning for me to be emphatic articulately enough) U.S. officials had just shown the near-real time video to the public everywhere anyway.
(I'd hoped for transparency. Ha!)

What a world. Greedy reckless psychopaths push their way into control of everything, and then too many regular citizens actually help the corporate propagandists ruin our childrens' future because they would rather be in denial than hear, "scary" bad news that requires awareness and actions.

Idiotic bureaucrats and parents are still sending students into Japan, when instead radiation refugees - including children and anyone who plans to have children should be being evacuated from Japan, and allowed to use some of the housing lying empty after the foolish housing bubble over-building which took place in too many places.

If the U.S. had been on the right path since at least the 1970's, we'd have no need of nuclear power plants by now - but no.

Unscupulous, Get-Rich-Now-By-Any Means (and-die-before-I-get-consequences) people are steering an Unsustainable Planet.
[Meanwhile, (as if things needed to get worse) how many more nuclear power plants has the Chinese govt. started up?]

Anonymous said...

The USAF did not release this data to the American public either.

Anonymous said...

Some of the censorship in the NRC FOIA files related to Fukushima is directly due to the J-gov not releasing this data.

Another reason for which it was not and will not be made public is that some of the data-collection instruments are secret.

Anonymous said...

I can understand that information regarding "secret" technology used for measurements or surveillance is not publicly released. However, when it comes to radiation fallout, the public in any country has a right to be informed of any danger, even potential danger. After all, it is tax payers' money that pays for the technology as well as the politicians' salaries who are supposed to represent us, the people, and look out for the common good. Common good, imho, includes giving people the opportunity to make informed decisions to protect themselves based on timely information provided. It is, after all, the people that will have to bear the consequences of radiation exposure.

The argument that information needs to be "filtered" to avoid panic holds little, if any water. If a major sink hole opened up in a street, one wouldn't just let cars crash into it because rerouting traffic might cause a traffic congestion elsewhere.

I can also understand that for diplomatic reasons the US didn't release the data affecting Japan. But "permission to release .. to the general public" is not good enough. There should at least have been diplomatic pressure to do so.

Shame on any government who withholds this type of information or sits back and lets it being withheld. We of the general public have a right to know!

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