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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

900,000 pages to be published on the web

February 11, 2013


Nuclear crisis info to be put on Web / About 900,000 pages of documents to be digitized, available in about 2 years


Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant


A locker at the Nuclear Regulation Authority Secretariat contains a huge number of files regarding the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority plans to digitize about 900,000 pages of documents related to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, with an eye to making them publicly available online in about two years, it has been learned.

According to NRA officials, some of the material has not been released before, and includes radioactivity monitoring results, how people were irradiated and evacuation plans worked out by local governments.

The project is intended to bring together--and make accessible--the masses of documents stored by ministries and agencies on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The digitization will not include material compiled by the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. The officials said these documents do not belong to the government.

"There are 300,000 A-4 pages of documents here alone," one official of the NRA Secretariat said in a room of the building that houses the NRA in Tokyo's Roppongi district.

The official opened one locker, revealing a huge number of binders that the NRA took over from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which was abolished in September. The contents of the binders were sorted into many files.

Some documents appeared to contain radioactivity monitoring data recorded in Fukushima Prefecture immediately after the nuclear crisis started after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Radiation readings had been underlined several times. Some notes jotted on the documents were little more than a scrawl, indicating the urgency with which they had been written by people trying to handle the nation's worst nuclear crisis.

The documents have been stored by an array of entities, including the NRA, the government countermeasures headquarters against the nuclear crisis in Fukushima city, and the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Emergency Response Center in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo.

Many of the documents were thrown in files out of chronological order, and not all the documents on a common topic have been stored together. Some files were lumped together in boxes.

"The volume of documents is so huge that many have been left wherever they were put," admitted an NRA Secretariat official.

The documents to be digitized were written in the first 12 months after the crisis started. They include data stored by the central government's local countermeasures headquarters, and will include some internal documents drawn up by government bodies, the official said. Some of the documents have already been made public.

The NRA can keep documents provided by TEPCO and the Fukushima prefectural government, but not internal documents of TEPCO and other businesses because they are not government property, he said.

In addition, some documents handled separately by such government organs as the Prime Minister's Office and ministries and agencies will not be included, according to the official.

When completed, the documents can be searched by keywords online and will be available for anyone, he said.

This will enable people to verify how TEPCO and government organizations and their leaders tried to deal with the crisis. The documents will show, for example, what information was exchanged between the local countermeasures headquarters in Fukushima and the Emergency Response Center, and what instructions the center issued and when, the official said.

Arranging and sorting the 900,000 pages is a time-consuming process. Each document must be electronically scanned, so they will not be made public until at least two years from now, he said.

An expert panel will decide whether any personal information in the documents should be redacted, according to the official.

"We'll first digitize as many documents as we can," the NRA Secretariat official said. "Later, we'll try to expand the range of documents by asking TEPCO and various government organizations for cooperation."

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