Report: Japan considered evacuating Tokyo

Feb. 28, 2012 at 9:02 AM
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TOKYO, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Japanese leaders say they secretly considered evacuating Tokyo during last year's nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.

An independent investigation into the crisis at Fukushima after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, shut down the plant's cooling systems offers a detailed account of how officials responded to the disaster, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

A team put together by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation interviewed more than 300 people, including top nuclear regulators and government officials, about the crisis. An advance copy of the report reveals Japan's response to the meltdown was hindered by a breakdown in trust between the prime minister and Tokyo Electric Power.

The report says then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other officials were unclear early on in the crisis how serious the damage was at Fukushima and were worried that if workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were evacuated more radioactive material would be released, forcing the evacuation of nearby nuclear plants and causing a chain reaction of plant meltdowns that could have resulted in the evacuation of Tokyo, the newspaper said.

It was five days before a Japanese military helicopter confirmed the pool at the highest-risk reactor was still safely filled with water, the report says.

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