Japan to release secret radiation data despite fear of mass panic

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011 at 6:20 am UTC

Japanese officials say they will begin releasing data on the potential spread of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident that has been withheld for fear of causing mass panic.
National NHK television said the data would be posted Tuesday on websites operated by the Science Ministry and nuclear regulatory agencies.
Goshi Hosono, head of a task force dealing with the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, said Monday the government has made about 5,000 measurements through a computer system designed to project radiation patterns in the event of various scenarios.
He said the data have not been released for fear that some of the worst-case scenarios could cause mass panic. But he said the government now believes that, even if the information is shocking, panic can be avoided with proper explanations.
Hosono apologized for the delay in releasing the data.
Japan's national police say more than 14,700 people are now confirmed dead in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out the cooling systems at the plant and led to the leakage of radiation.
Another 10,800 people still are unaccounted for, while about 126,000 still are living in temporary shelters.