Simulations of radioactive substances diffusion from nuke plant released by gov’t

Simulations of radioactive substances diffusion from nuke plant released by gov’t

A chart simulating the spread of radioactive substances from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant made at 4 p.m. on March 12. (Chart courtesy of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry)

May 6, 2011

(Mainichi Japan) May 4, 2011

 
A chart simulating the spread of radioactive substances from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant made at 4 p.m. on March 12. (Chart courtesy of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry)

The government has released its simulations of the spread of radioactive substances leaking from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

The government has begun releasing about 5,000 charts simulating the spread of radioactive substances — withheld since the simulations’ creation in March and April — on the website of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

As the simulations closely correspond to the levels of radiation that were actually detected in affected areas, the government will likely come under mounting criticism for a delay in its disclosure of the information.

The government made the simulations using the System for Prediction of Environmental Dose Information (SPEEDI) developed by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry. The charts that have been disclosed so far predicted how radioactive substances would spread — taking wind directions and other factors into account — on the assumption that 1 becquerel of radioactive substances, such as iodine, continue to leak from the crippled plant.

For example, one of them predicted that at 4 p.m. on March 12 — shortly after a hydrogen explosion in the building housing the plant’s No. 1 reactor — radioactive materials would spread north-northwest.

Another predicted on the afternoon of March 15 — immediately after an explosion near the suppression pool of the No. 2 reactor — estimated that radioactive substances would spread northwest.

In this photo from a footage of a live camera released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), black smoke billows from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Okumamachi, northeastern Japan, on March 22, 2011. (AP)

In this photo from a footage of a live camera released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), black smoke billows from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Okumamachi, northeastern Japan, on March 22, 2011. (AP)

House of Representatives member Goshi Hosono, who serves as an assistant to the prime minister, told a news conference on April 25 that the government would disclose all the simulations made using SPEEDI.

However, it was found on May 1 that about 5,000 charts simulating how radioactive materials would spread remained secret, prompting Hosono to apologize at a news conference the following day. He explained that the ministry and other government bodies withheld the charts “out of fear that their disclosure would fuel anxiety among the public and cause panic.”

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