Skip to comments.Lack of information hampered government's evacuation efforts in Fukushima crisis
Posted on 06/20/2014 7:49:03 PM PDT by ransomnote
As the crisis unfurled at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the prime ministers office issued a series of evacuation orders in reaction to worsening developments without sufficient information and expert knowledge, according to testimony by a former top government official.
In testimony to the governments Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations, then Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama, who was in charge of evacuating residents, detailed how government officials were forced to issue evacuation orders in a flurry. The Asahi Shimbun recently obtained a copy of his testimony.
We only had limited information (on the developing nuclear crisis), but made decisions (to issue evacuation orders) with clear objectives for each of the decisions, Fukuyama said in a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun.
Whether we made the right decisions or not at the time will only be judged by history, the Democratic Party of Japan Upper House member added.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami crippled cooling systems of nuclear reactors at the plant on March 11, 2011, the prime ministers office ordered residents living within a radius of 3 kilometers from the facility to evacuate at 9:23 p.m. that evening.
However, after the failure of a venting system to reduce the pressure in the No. 1 reactor vessel, the government issued an evacuation order for residents living within a 10-km radius at 5:44 a.m. on March 12.
A hydrogen explosion in the No. 1 reactor prompted officials to further expand the evacuation order to cover a 20-km radius from the plant at 6:25 p.m. that day.
SNIP... the government was forced to order residents living between a 20-km to 30-km radius from the plant to remain indoors at 11 a.m. on March 15.
(Excerpt) Read more at ajw.asahi.com ...
Normally nuclear power industry and their protectors in the government never admit to natural limitations present in the government's ability to evacuate a population center during a nuclear crisis. I always hate it when nuclear power plant officials stand up in front of the public (in any country) and outline emergency procedures because I know they will not use those measures in a nuclear event. Why wasn't the public trained how to respond/evacuate prior to Chernobyl and Fukushima? Officials in Russia and Japan admitted later that they feared that training the public how to respond in an emergency would "frighten the public" into thinking that such an event was possible or more likely to happen. Why did Japan order govenors in the area of Fukushima NOT to distribute potassium iodide? They didn't want the public to panic. Why was Japan so slow to evacuate and instead, evacuate in phases? Fear of traffic jam. It's not feasible, even with a population of 140,000 people, let alone Tokyo! It's just not possible. Surely it wasn't the first time officials ever ran an analysis to see how long it would take to evacuate the area. Surely they KNEW it was not feasible. Of course, they didn't tell the public that. An honest official report would explain to the public: "In the event of an emergency, we'll withhold SPEEDI data (their nuclear event modeling software) that could help you figure out which direction to travel in order to get out of prevailing winds." (The result was many people guessed wrong and traveled in the direction of the plume and camped there) We don't want you to panic, that would result in gridlock in the limited directions deemed safe for exit (not the four cardinal directions).
"In the event of a nuclear emergency, we won't actually distribute emergency supplies of potassium iodide because then you'd try to leave the area, cause a traffic jam and it's not feasible for us to evacuate everyone who needs to be evacuated unless we underinform the public (no panic!) and evacuate in stages."
"Once we determine that we must evacuate the area, we'll admit that it's not feasible to do so efficiently, you'll have to wait your turn before we tell you that you need to be evacuated. Until then, we want you to stay there believing it's safe to remain." Here are two relevant exerpts: Here are two excerpts from the article that speak to this point.
"Asked why the government officials only expanded the evacuation zones in increments, Fukuyama told committee members that it was feared that major traffic jams could ensue if an evacuation order was issued first for residents living away from the plant."
"Asked why the officials did not issue an evacuation order for people living in a radius of 20 km to 30 km from the plant, Fukuyama suggested they instead were ordered to remain indoors as an emergency response, because it was estimated that it could take four to five days to evacuate all the 140,000 residents living within a 30-km radius of the plant."