"Japanese Authorities Sat on Data Showing Radiation Spread"

"Japanese authorities failed to disclose U.S. data about the spread of radiation spewing from a crippled nuclear plant last year, a cabinet minister said on Tuesday, leaving some evacuees fleeing in the same direction as the radioactive emissions."

"News that Japan's nuclear watchdog and the science and technology ministry sat on the information collected by U.S. military aircraft -- another sign of the chaos at the time -- is likely to add to mistrust of nuclear power just days after the government approved the restart of two idled reactors.

A March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima nuclear plant north of Tokyo, triggering explosions and meltdowns and causing about 160,000 people to flee the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

U.S. military aircraft gathered radiation data from March 17-19 over a 45-km (28-mile) radius and found that people in an area about 25 km (15 miles) northwest of the plant -- where some people were moving -- were exposed to the annual permissible level of radiation within eight hours, Japanese media said."

Osamu Tsukimori reports for Reuters June 20, 2012.

Source: Reuters, 06/20/2012