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Published by: DeeanaF on Feb 29, 2012
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Gov't quake panel cut tsunami warning in report prior to March 11
 TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The science ministry's earthquake research panel omitted a warning thatmassive tsunami could hit northeastern Japan "at any moment" from a report prior to the March2011 earthquake and tsunami, having earlier planned to include it, a ministry document showedTuesday. The Earthquake Research Committee had presented the report eight days before the March 11disaster to an unofficial meeting among the ministry, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and two other utilities but ended up not publicizing it, according to the document, obtained by Kyodo News viaa freedom-of-information request, and people involved. Committee members decided to delete the warning as they viewed it "inappropriate to use thesame expression" as that used to describe an expected major earthquake in the Tokai region,central Japan, which was regarded "more imminent." Reference to the possible quake in the Pacific off eastern Japan was further weakened at therequest of power utilities at the March 3 meeting, they said. Comprising more than a dozen members, mostly academics, the panel was compiling thereport as part of a review of its long-term evaluation on the frequency of big quakes in theregion ranging from the Sanriku coast in northeastern Japan to the Boso Peninsula in ChibaPrefecture. The draft report had a new article entitled "from the sea off Miyagi Prefecture to the sea off Fukushima Prefecture" and said a temblor that entails gigantic tsunami could occur at anymoment based on recent research that such tsunami hit the coast four times over the past 2,500years. But after some argued that such an expression could be linked with the projected Tokai quake,which was said to be 87 percent likely to occur within 30 years, it was weakened to simplynoting that a major quake could occur off the Pacific coastline in eastern Japan. References to research having found tsunami-caused sediment at a rate of every 450 to 800years, and that 500 years had passed since the latest major quake were also deleted.  After the March 2011 disaster, the committee under the Education, Culture, Sports, Science andTechnology Ministry estimated that the quake, if it were predictable beforehand, was 10 to 20percent likely to occur within 30 years as of March 11 last year. (Mainichi Japan) February 28, 2012 
Panel issues report on Fukushima nuclear accident 
 An independent panel investigating the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant hasissued a report based on interviews with about 300 people, including Japanese and USgovernment officials and nuclear experts. It has pointed out that the government and the plant's operator were ill-prepared to deal with acrisis. The 6-member panel of experts from the private sector has been studying how the Japanesegovernment and Tokyo Electric Power Company responded to the nuclear accident in Marchlast year. The power company's officials refused to be interviewed. The report released on Tuesday criticizes the government's response as off-the-cuff and toolate. The late response is blamed on the government's failure to anticipate a nuclear accidenttriggered by an earthquake and tsunami that occurred simultaneously, which rendered its crisismanagement manual useless. The report says the problem was compounded by the lack of basic legal knowledge on the partof the government's senior officials. The report also points to delays in providing the prime minister's office with accurateinformation, as well as insufficient support by nuclear experts. The report urges immediatedebate on improving such problems. The report condemns the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency for its failure to trainprofessionals in safety.It says the agency could not draw up plans to put the Fukushima plant under control due to ashortage of both personnel and ideas. The report blames Tokyo Electric for increasing the damage by not immediately switching to analternative cooling system after realizing that the emergency condenser wasn't working. It alsosays the company took too much time to start the vent procedure to avert a major crisis. The head of the panel, Koichi Kitazawa, says the investigation has revealed what was going oninside the prime minister's office and elsewhere at the time of the accident. He pointed out an institutional defect in Japan's system to address a crisis, a problem thatneeds to be fixed as soon as possible.Tuesday, February 28, 2012 18:57 +0900 (JST)
Panel: Cabinet members unaware of SPEEDI 
 An independent panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear accident has found that the primeminister did not know about the government's system that can predict the spread of radioactivematerials quickly. The 6-member panel of experts is due to issue a report on the disaster on Tuesday. The report says former Prime Minister Naoto Kan and 4 other politicians blame the scienceministry officials for not informing them about the system called SPEEDI. Former Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said he found out about it in a media report aroundMarch 15 last year. At the time, the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was spewing radioactivematerials. Edano said bureaucrats told him later that they decided not to inform him about SPEEDIbecause its calculation was not credible due to the lack of precise data on radiation. Former industry minster Banri Kaieda said it is most regrettable that he could not instructofficials to submit data on radiation dispersion because he did not know about the system. The panel charges in its report that SPEEDI was used as a tool to assure local residents aboutthe safety of nuclear power generation and to obtain their consent to build the plant. It also says the system should have been used more effectively to reduce the residents'exposure to radiation as much as possible. Hirotada Hirose, an expert on emergency information, said bureaucrats should be primarilyblamed for failing to inform. He says Cabinet ministers should also be criticized for their inabilityto manage the crisis. Tuesday, February 28, 2012 06:01 +0900 (JST) Miscommunications made things worse 

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