Saturday, April 23, 2011

Japanese officials on defensive as nuclear alert level increases

Saturday, April 23, 2011
A volunteer in Ofunato, Japan, cleaned photographs, which were found in the ruins of the tsunami.

TOKYO - Japanese officials struggled through the day on Tuesday to explain why it took them a month to large-scale releases of radioactive material mid-March had a crippled nuclear power plant, disclose, as the Government and a utilities on the extent of the problems it still not agree.

A police officer observed colleagues prepare to transport a body of van Minamisoma, Japan, on Thursday, in a deserted nuclear evacuation zone.

The Government announced Tuesday morning that it had raised its assessment of the severity of the accident in the Prefecture of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station 7, the worst at the international level of 5. Officials said that the reactor had released a tenth as much radioactive material as the Chernobyl accident in 1986, but still as a 7, developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency qualifies a complex formula.

Largely on computer models show based Japan's new review very heavy emissions of radioactive iodine and caesium by 14 March 16, after the earthquake and tsunami of the plant emergency cooling system rendered ineffective. The almost Monthlong delay in the confirm the extent of these emissions is a fresh example confused data and analysis from the Japanese and put on the authorities on the defensive, whether they have delayed or blocked the release of information to avoid alerting the public.

Seiji Shiroya, Commissioner of Japan's nuclear safety Commission, an independent Government Panel, which the country's nuclear industry, controls, said that the Government had delayed issue of data on levels of radiation releases due to the concern that on the edge of the error in the first computer models had been great. But also he was kept a public policy reason for quiet.

"Low risk, fled some foreigners in the country even if it seemed" he said. "If we immediately label the situation as a level 7, we can have triggered response a panic."

The Japanese media, which has a reputation for passivity, but more as a response to public dissatisfaction with the nuclear accident has become aggressive, challenged and leaders throughout the day on which knew the Government about the accident, and if you knew it.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan was a nationally televised transmitted speech and press conference in the early evening for the national reconstruction called, but ended up dealing with details of the accident to defend his Government.

"What can I say the information I received - of course, the Government is very large, so I not all information - is that no information always suppressed or hidden after the accident," he said. "There are different ways to look at this, and I know there are opinions that information could have disclosed more quickly." "However, hidden as head of Government, I never all information because it was inconvenient for us."

Junichi Matsumoto, a senior nuclear power manager from the operators, the Tokyo electric power company, said radiation at a separate press conference owejannyje public fears about Tuesday morning, that the radiation might release of Daiichi, in time, exceed levels seen.

"The radiation leak was not completely finished, and our concern is that it could eventually exceed Chernobyl," said Mr Matsumoto.

But Hidehiko Nishiyama, Deputy Director-General of Japan's nuclear regulator, the nuclear and Agency for industrial, said in an interview on Tuesday night, that he did not know how the company with his estimate had come. "I can not understand their position," he said.

He speculated that Tokyo Electric "careful and think about the worst case scenario" add, "I think they want to be seen not as optimistic."

Mr Nishiyama, said his agency did not expect that other large escape of the radiation from Daiichi that say that "almost all" to escape the material that is has already come. He said that the rate of radiation had release in the early days after the March 11 reached earthquake, and that the rate of radiation by 90 percent had dropped since then.

The peak release of radioactive particles emissions explosions in three reactors to hydrogen, as technicians desperately trying, pump in sea water to keep cool fuel rods the uranium, and bled radioactive gas from the reactors to make room for the sea water.

Mr Nishiyama took to say pain - and agreed other nuclear experts-, that the Japanese accident of less health risks than Chernobyl posed.

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