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Japan – Failed Fukushima offsite center shown to media

Friday, March 2, 2012

A nuclear emergency response center that proved useless during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was shown to the media for the first time since March 11th last year.

The facility, called an “offsite center,” is located about 5 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

It was supposed to serve as a frontline base for central and local government officials to gather information and lead evacuation efforts. Officials from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power were also due to work from the center.

But the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11th prevented relevant officials from reaching the facility, while the dedicated communication line went offline.

Four days after the disaster, an alternative offsite center was opened within Fukushima Prefecture’s government office, about 60 kilometers away from the nuclear plant.

A tour inside the original offsite center on Friday showed that its board room on the 2nd floor was equipped with a large display.

It was supposed to show real-time data of reactor conditions, along with predictions of how radioactive materials might spread.

The facility also had an automatic alert system designed to connect with the mobile phones of local officials with a single button push.

But none of the equipment worked due to a power blackout on March 11th.

The center also lacked an air-purifier to filter out radioactive substances.

Officials say radiation inside the reinforced concrete building rose to as high as 200 micro-sieverts per hour.

The level was considered too dangerous for anyone to enter the site.