Radiation Understated After Says Quake, Japan
It is unclear whether a more accurate reading of emissions levels would have promoted a swifter or wider evacuation from around the plant. Still, the lag in reporting the true extent of the emissions added to what some critics have called a litany of confusing and contradictory data and analysis from the Japanese authorities, putting officials on the defensive about whether they delayed, or even blocked, the release of information to the public.
Last month the government acknowledged that three of the plant’s reactors had probably suffered fuel meltdowns, after having denied that possibility.
The agency also said it now estimated that the radioactive release from the plant totaled 770,000 terabecquerels in the first week after March 11. The agency had previously estimated 370,000 terabecquerels released in the first month.
A terabecquerel is a trillion becquerels, a commonly used measure of the radiation emitted by a radioactive material.
The agency suggested that the higher emissions estimate was equivalent to only about 10 percent of the radioactive materials released in 1986 by the explosion and fire at
Most experts say that the true emissions from
Japanese officials have stressed other differences between
Even at the time of the first estimate in April,
The commission relied on a computer model that uses radiation measurements taken at various distances from a nuclear accident. The model produces an estimate of the radioactive material escaping from the source.
But the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency based its number on estimates of the damage to the reactors’ radioactive cores. Its latest reading more accurately reflects the radioactive material spewed after hydrogen explosions at Reactors 2 and 3, the agency said.
Officials cautioned that there was a wide margin of error involved in both calculations.
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