Fukushima Government Deleted SPEEDI Reports During Disaster

Daily Yomiuri, Mainichi and Yahoo Japan are reporting a revelation that the prefecture government in Fukushima deleted SPEEDI report emails from the first week of the disaster.

UPDATE 2 at bottom of article. 

UPDATE: EX-SKF has a translation of the Tokyo Shimbun article on the SPEEDI files deleted in Fukushima.  
Tokyo Shimbun talked to the people involved and the person whom they did not name, who actually deleted the files. They claim the files were taking up too much room on their server so they deleted them. The unnamed person in charge of the Fukushima government told Tokyo Shimbun they “did not notice” the emails until March 15. However, they admitted to other media outlets that they requested the emails after the dedicated data system failed to work. They also admitted at least some of them were read, calling into question the “I didn’t notice” excuse.

They also told Tokyo Shimbun “the simulation is of no use” when asked why they never shared it with local governments or the public. They told Mainichi they didn’t release the data because it was the job of the national government to give the data to the public and local governments (cities, villages etc). Tokyo Shimbun also uncovered that the Fukushima prefecture government also had a simulation from NISA and a dispersal simulation from TEPCO, both were faxed to their offices. They chose to ignore and hide those too. EX-SKF also mentions that the prefecture government may have done their own environmental testing before unit 1 exploded that showed radiation already leaking out. They also were complaining to the media about lack of information at the same time they were sitting on all this data. Huge thanks to EX-SKF for translating and reporting on the story.  Check the link for his full write up about this.

This came out after MEXT claimed they had been sending SPEEDI data to the Fukushima government by email during the disaster’s first days. There was a dedicated line between MEXT and the Fukushima prefecture Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring Center that was not working. MEXT then began sending the data as email late at night. One would assume they did these emails at night when there would be less traffic on the server. Mainichi’s report counter’s this claim about late night distribution and cites they were sent hourly.

The Fukushima government claims in the Yomiuri account that “At the time, we had received numerous e-mails, one after another. Officials may have deleted the e-mails to maintain server capacity.”

Mainichi has more details.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government revealed on March 21 that it deleted five days of early radiation dispersion data almost entirely unread in the wake of the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
” just after the March 2011 quake and tsunami, its dedicated SPEEDI terminal was unable to receive data due to effects of the disasters.
Prefectural officials asked the Nuclear Safety Technology Center, which operates SPEEDI, to send data via email on March 12, 2011 — one day into the nuclear crisis.
The Nuclear Safety Technology Center then sent the data hourly starting at 11:54 p.m. that day.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government, however, deleted all the data it received from March 12 to about 9 a.m. March 16.
We had asked for the information to be sent by email hadn’t been shared within the countermeasure office
We have not been able to confirm when the data was deleted and by who.”

Then there is this:
At around 10:30 a.m. on March 13, 2011, the disaster countermeasure office confirmed for the first time that it had received data from the central government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency by fax. But the disaster countermeasure office judged that “the data is useless because the predicted amount of released radiation is unrealistic.”

And this:
The Fukushima Prefectural Government also failed to give the data to the people of the prefecture and local municipalities partly because the central government was supposed to release such data in the first place.”

Putting together what is known:

  • Prefecture govt. admits it was aware of the emails being sent, it claims they may have been deleted to save server space.
  • They were aware of the emails and some had been read. They knew they had SPEEDI data coming in.
  • The Prefecture asked MEXT to send the SPEEDI data by email, so it was done at their request. They were fully aware of it, they requested it.
  • Data was sent by email to the prefecture hourly starting March 12
  • Some time after 9am March 16 someone deleted the emails
  • The data was known to the prefecture government, they didn’t share it with the countermeasures office
  • The countermeasures office received some SPEEDI data directly by fax but ignored it
  • Neither the prefecture government or the countermeasures office shared the data with the public or local governments

What is not clear is who was involved in the “prefecture government” that knew of the SPEEDI data? Was it just the governor’s office? Nuclear safety staff?
It was supposedly deleted to save space and no clear answer about why it wasn’t shared with the countermeasures office is given. Who deleted the data and when would be verifiable by server log files or basic computer forensics. While it is understandable that things can be lost in the chaos of a crisis, the claim that the data was not given to the public because it was the job of the national government to do that seems suspect. Local governments were begging for help and information,  the prefecture government knew they had that information on hand.  The countermeasures office ignored it, the prefecture office hid it from the public, then deleted it. Meanwhile the national government also hid the information from the public.

According to the NYT, a prime minister’s nuclear disaster manual specifically says that SPEEDI data was supposed to be given to local officials and rescue workers to help evacuees.
Speedi had been designed in the 1980s to make forecasts of radiation dispersal that, according to the prime minister’s office’s own nuclear disaster manuals, were supposed to be made available at least to local officials and rescue workers in order to guide evacuees away from radioactive plumes.

MEXT was also quoted in the NYT article as admitting they did not give the prime minister’s office the SPEEDI data because “it was incomplete”  But it appears the prime minister’s office may have actually had the SPEEDI data.

However, Mr. Kosako said, the prime minister’s office refused to release the results even after it was made aware of Speedi, because officials there did not want to take responsibility for costly evacuations if their estimates were later called into question.

So did the actions in the prime minister’s office or at MEXT influence the prefecture office to not release the data and to delete it?

There were clear implications of what happened with the non-disclosure of the SPEEDI data. It caused many to be put directly in harms way as they tried to escape.

Atomfritz commented over at Ex-SKF about SPEEDI data in the early days of the disaster and the fact that very soon after things began to turn ugly SPEEDI was shut off. It went “under survey” and those monitors were no longer publicly available. SPEEDI data in the disaster area wasn’t publicly available as someone had pulled it off the internet, but data for other areas still was available. Yet another way the public was blocked from knowing what the radiation and plume data was.
Looking back we found lots of documentation about the inaccessible SPEEDI data during the early weeks of the accident.
Zero Hedge took screen shots of the inaccessible SPEEDI data on March 15th. It also showed that down in Ibaraki towards Tokyo levels were climbing. Some stations were also being taken offline in Ibaraki.

An older blog post here mentions that SPEEDI data for the region around Fukushima was offline for at least the first 2 weeks of the accident as was many US EPA RadNet stations. US stations began curiously dropping off during the first weeks of the disaster. By late March 2011 the NRC had decided RadNet was not needed and that they would get radiation data from the US nuclear industry lobbyists, NEI. Of course then that data isn’t available to the public. 


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