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Japan Reluctant To Disclose Drone Footage of Fukushima Plant 335

Posted by timothy
from the gudjilla-in-high-res-at-least dept.
garymortimer writes with word that "footage taken from an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone was passed on to the Japanese government with permission for public release from the US Air Force. US military sources said that the decision to release the footage — or not — was up to the Japanese government." The Japanese government, though, has thus far chosen not to release the high-resolution footage of the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
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Japan Reluctant To Disclose Drone Footage of Fukushima Plant

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  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @06:55PM (#35545618)

    they don't want the footage of godzilla to get out

  • Not Good (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nemyst (1383049) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @06:56PM (#35545624) Homepage

    By being secretive, they're letting rumors run rampant. It will surface at some point anyways, so they should just assume that and be more transparent about it.

    As it is now, I've heard of everything from 5 deaths and 20 wounded with all reactors in meltdown to nothing going on whatsoever. Uncertainty breeds fear.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mashiki (184564)

      Considering the reporting done so far? I can't blame them for not wanting to disclose it. We've had radiation fear mongering, nuclear meltdown fear mongering, we've had just about everything you can think of. Including media induced panics on food, to salt, to potassium iodine in places like...Norway.

      As of today? In downtown tokyo, the radiation level is 3usv above normal background. OH NOES NUCLAR MELTDOWN!!!111! We're all gonna die from radiation poisoning!!!1!

      If this even has shown me anything, it'

      • Re:Not Good (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jhoegl (638955) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:08PM (#35545726)
        Irrational fear does not mean facts should not be released.
        The reality is that the news organizations are making it sound like it will be an issue and then ask... "What do the experts say? You will hear it, coming up next".
        Of course, "next" means "at the end of the news broadcast", by which time everyone is bored and turns off the news.
        THe problem is, no one stays around to listen and then assume it is the worst. When in actuality and historically, it is the opposite.
        This is how news organizations work, in order to keep you around during the commercials.
        • Re:Not Good (Score:4, Insightful)

          by blue trane (110704) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:25PM (#35545876) Homepage Journal

          This is why we need the govt to keep funding PBS.

          • Re:Not Good (Score:5, Funny)

            by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:38PM (#35546002) Homepage

            This is why we need the govt to keep funding PBS.

            Right--because somehow Sesame Street has a magical secret trick to get Japan to cough up the drone footage.

            • by 517714 (762276)
              Cookie Monster doing his Godzilla impression ought to do the job.
          • mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

            by ridgecritter (934252) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:23PM (#35546902)

            Regardless of your political persuation, you can make better decisions with more accurate information than with propoganda. From NPR/PBS, you will get information with a certain degree of accuracy. From sources like Fox, you will get nothing that will help you make a better decision - there is no journalism at Fox, just right wing, "money=merit", fear-based propoganda. From NPR/PBS, I get information that is at least in the realm of an honest effort at journalism, and that gives me value as I try to figure out the complex issues under discussion. I'm totally happy with the tiny fraction of my tax $ that go to Public Broadcasting. I get value for that tax every single day. Wish I could say the same about the rest of my taxes.

            • by FauxReal (653820)

              It's funny you say that because I have come across people who think NPR/PBS is some kind of liberal propaganda machine. It's sad but true.

        • This is how news organizations work, in order to keep you around during the commercials.

          People still do that?

          Huh,, even my seasoned citizen Mom starts watching the News about twenty minutes late so she can zip thru the commercials.

          She gave me a dirty look when I saw her doing that and said "But Mom, that's how they make their money and stuff'..

        • Now is it just me or maybe I really lost a lot of brain cells in my early twenties, but does it feel newish to anyone else that every god damn show seems to spend half the time briefing people after the commercial about what happened and what's going to happen, it happens, and then they explain what's going to happen after the commercial? Not just news although it sort of feels like I'm seeing more commercials for the news than I spend actually watching the news. It's like being on a website that asks if

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by mysidia (191772)

          The footage probably shows proprietary possibly security-sensitive information about TEPCO's private facility.

          Not necessarily about the 'status' of the reactors, BUT about the design of the reactors -- what they look like -- how the building is laid out, where things are, etc.

          Does the US government release Microsoft Windows source code, when there is a worm release such as W32/Blaster?

          • Not necessarily about the 'status' of the reactors, BUT about the design of the reactors -- what they look like -- how the building is laid out, where things are, etc.

            You mean they're worried terrorists might blow something up?

            Or that competitors might want to build a 40 year old, meltdown-prone reactor design?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by netsharc (195805)

        Saw a link on Twitter to an Italian news site that said the background radiation in Rome was higher than in Tokyo. Yeah, well done media, 0.04uSv?!?!

        Someone's made a Wiki of shameful reporting by "journalists" [wikispaces.com].

        If I had the expertise, I'd made a fake video with a fake Geiger counter display, and then showing how the skin is boiling off my arm, put it online and see how much the media would fall for it. They'll probably put it all over the internet news sites (Shittington Post) and fucking CNN, with the wease

        • Please don't do that... my family is panicking enough as it is demanding I take the first possible flight home.
        • by Nedmud (157169)

          Interesting. I'm not going to "fisk" that page (since fisking is a retarded practice that amounts to cherry-picking easily criticised minor points).

          I was kind of proud to see my own local paper the "Wellington Dominion Post" scored a 7 for "selecting a picture of a mushroom cloud like explosion because they couldn't think of nuclear in any other terms than a mushroom cloud". Well that's kind of subjective: it doesn't look especially mushroomy to me. But it does look a hell of a lot like an actual Fukushi

        • I'm curious as to how the radiation compares to.. say.. going through an airport scanner....

      • Re:Not Good (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Asic Eng (193332) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:22PM (#35545844)

        Confronted with secrecy and dishonesty people will assume the worst. That's a perfectly natural reaction. There was never a point at which TEPCO was freely releasing the information they had, so you are confusing cause and effect here.

        Besides: they owe information to the Japanese people - it was their plant which caused the problem, it was their plant causing considerable economic damage and health risks for so many people. If you can't handle negative media reports about nuclear power, then you don't have the balls to run a nuclear power plant. Find another business to be in - maybe something with kittens and flowers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Mashiki (184564)

          Actually TEPCO was freely releasing information for quite awhile. Albeit in japanese, and on their website when it wasn't being hammered into the ground. They stopped after people started running around wildly waving their arms in the air and going off about this being nuclear armageddon.

          • Actually... PM Naoto Kan (a physicist by education) was furious with TEPCO for keeping too positive a spin on their reporting to him, to the point where he refused their request to evacuate all workers and told them to keep working until they died.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Actually, they still do [tepco.co.jp], but it's just the highlights and don't do much explanations:

            Japans Atomic Industrial Forum [tepco.co.jp] has better presentations, aparently from TEPCO data:

            World nuclear news [world-nuclear-news.org] has some explanations of the events, as does MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub [mitnse.com]

            Those are the places I turn to when people start talking about normal media coverage. I just saw a CNN report that started out with clips of people saying that there was another explosion and that there was a fire on reactor 4. I went "shit" and ch

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Solandri (704621)

              It looks to me like things are more or less under control. The cores should now be in cold shutdown putting out nominal heat. Barring another accident (explosion, earthquake, tsunami, pump propeller breaking up and tearing a hole through a pipe, etc.) they should have things sorted out in a week or two. Not to say it's not a mess. Food from fukushima might need to be thrown out for a week or two while cesium decays and there will be rolling blackouts until this stabilizes enough for workers to take a look a

      • by janek78 (861508)

        the radiation level is 3usv (sic!) above normal background.

        I know I'm nitpicking here, but saying that the "level is 3 uSv above normal background" does not make sense. 3 uSv is a dose (a tiny one) and background is measured in dose/time. So 3 uSv above background/second would be very significant, whereas 3 uSv above background/year would be totally negligible.

        • Re:Not Good (Score:4, Informative)

          by fluffy99 (870997) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:47PM (#35546106)

          the radiation level is 3usv (sic!) above normal background.

          I know I'm nitpicking here, but saying that the "level is 3 uSv above normal background" does not make sense. 3 uSv is a dose (a tiny one) and background is measured in dose/time. So 3 uSv above background/second would be very significant, whereas 3 uSv above background/year would be totally negligible.

          The better reports actually state the levels as microseiverts/hour, which is indeed an insignificant level even if maintained for a few months.

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          The normal background radiation in tokyo/hr is around 25usv. It's about 28 right now, sometimes peaking to 31. It is insignificant.

          • The normal background radiation in tokyo/hr is around 25usv. It's about 28 right now, sometimes peaking to 31. It is insignificant.

            Well okay but the risk is that a damaged reactor could release a lot of material into the air all at once. The current level of radioactivity says little about that risk.

            • by Mashiki (184564)

              And a cosmic ray zipping through the universe could knock a strand of dna off your body, and cause incurable cancer too. But you don't worry about that. The chance of the reactor doing the same is close to 0 as well. Especially now that people are on the ground and getting power wired back into the main pumps.

              The daily average is 28-38usv/hr. There are places in the US, right now which are in the 60usv/hr range which is double. Anything above I believe 250msv/hr causes damage, I am tired and am at work

              • And a cosmic ray zipping through the universe could knock a strand of dna off your body, and cause incurable cancer too. But you don't worry about that. The chance of the reactor doing the same is close to 0 as well. Especially now that people are on the ground and getting power wired back into the main pumps.

                The daily average is 28-38usv/hr. There are places in the US, right now which are in the 60usv/hr range which is double. Anything above I believe 250msv/hr causes damage, I am tired and am at work while doing this, so posting from memory and not being able to search doesn't make it too easy.

                I think some of the numbers cited should be per day, not per hour; let's not contribute to the deluge of misinformation hitting the public on this and other topics.

                The average background dose is 2.4mSv/year = 6.5uSv/day = 0.27uSv/hour. The recently reported level in Tokyo can be found in this map [wikipedia.org] and was up to 19uSv/day = 0.8uSv/hour when I checked. So it's higher than the average background, but not remarkably so (factor of 3-ish). Levels in the immediate vicinity of the reactors are much higher, of cou

      • If this even has shown me anything, it's that people suck on the tit of fear, and fear mongering and disregard even anything approaching common sense, or fact.

        Having to use plastic knives and forks on planes, not being allowed to bring your own drinks on board, having nail files confiscated as dangerous weapons, having an army of proctologists waiting for you at airports etc hasn't already taught you that?

        On a more sobering thought, they are finding evidence of foods being contaminated by radiation, they are reporting low levels so let us hope they are being open and not down-playing risks. If the pumps come into use, they should hopefully be able to bring thin

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by Mashiki (184564)

          The problem in the US is that you've taken the choice of screen everyone instead of people who are actually out to do you harm. I mean profiling, it's evil or something. Anyway.

          Where I live everything is contaminated by some form of radiation. We have it in the water, and we have it in the 'locally grown crops' I live in Canada, oh and we deal with radon seepage too. But not that it matters too much. The vast majority of this contamination won't matter 3mo down the road, and the majority of people wil

          • by MightyYar (622222)

            I mean profiling, it's evil or something. Anyway.

            First of all, the US does profile. I have a friend with the surname "Ali", and she has never been able to travel without getting pulled aside. She's on some kind of list... that is profiling. The US does it, and apparently sucks at it.

            Second, because they suck at it, it IS evil. This woman is no more or less of a risk than any other American mother with 2 kids and a hubby. The government has no business putting her on a secret list and hassling her when she travels. No one is safer as a result.

            So yeah, whil

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tibit (1762298)

          There is no such thing as "being contaminated by radiation", unless you're talking about neutron activation and that really only happens within a reactor. Stuff gets contaminated by other stuff that happens to fission and radiate. Neither alpha, beta nor gamma radiation can contaminate anything by itself.

          So in all this talk of "radiation contamination", we need to know all of the following several things for it to have any fucking meaning in the first place:
          1. What are the contaminating radionuclide(s), wha

          • by MrKaos (858439)

            There is no such thing as "being contaminated by radiation", unless you're talking about neutron activation and that really only happens within a reactor. Stuff gets contaminated by other stuff that happens to fission and radiate. Neither alpha, beta nor gamma radiation can contaminate anything by itself.

            You are talking about radiation exposure. A radionuclide is an emitter of radiation and there is also radionuclide exposure via ingestion. Your body can uptake radionuclide(s) via respirable dust, direct c

      • by Nyder (754090)

        ...If this even has shown me anything, it's that people suck on the tit of fear, and fear mongering and disregard even anything approaching common sense, or fact.

        Like we use any common sense when there's a tit we can suck?

      • Re:Not Good (Score:5, Informative)

        by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:36PM (#35546574) Journal

        Being near sea level, the radiation levels in Tokyo are normally about 35 nanoSieverts per hour (nSv/h). This doesn't include dietary sources of radiation.

        According to this chart [bloomberg.com], the radiation level for the past couple days has been 50 nSv/h. (the chart uses microGrays per hour (uGy/h), but 1 uGy = 1 uSv)

        Mexico City, being about 2.2 km elevation, has a higher background radiation because the atmosphere is thinner. They average 90 nSv/h there, almost double what's in Tokyo for the past two days.

        The real kicker? Each cigarette contains at least 1000 nSv, smoked directly into the lungs. Every cigarette someone smokes is like spending at least 20 hours standing in downtown Tokyo right now.

      • Irrational bullshit sells advertising. BTW have you noticed that since the Libya stuff started that this Japanese nuke issue is no longer making headlines on any of the broadcast "news"?
    • Re:Not Good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142) * on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:11PM (#35545744)
      Honestly - do you think the US government would release anything if it had happened in the US? It would take months and Freedom of Information Act requests to get hold of it. And since it's a nuclear plant with strategic and national interest value, anyone wanting to see such video would probably be called a "terrorist". Remember when they were arresting people for taking pictures of federal buildings? Now imagine a nuclear plant...
      • Honestly - do you think the US government would release anything if it had happened in the US? It would take months and Freedom of Information Act requests to get hold of it. And since it's a nuclear plant with strategic and national interest value, anyone wanting to see such video would probably be called a "terrorist". Remember when they were arresting people for taking pictures of federal buildings? Now imagine a nuclear plant...

        Again, having mentioned it already once in this thread - are you old enough to remember Three Mile Island? It's hard to cover this sort of thing up - we were treated to endless talking head segments on every news program during that failure.

        One thing about getting older... you learn a little bit about perspective.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          Again, having mentioned it already once in this thread - are you old enough to remember Three Mile Island? It's hard to cover this sort of thing up - we were treated to endless talking head segments on every news program during that failure.

          Right and we had the same talking head phenomena with this incident, but I don't remember the government releasing unedited surveillance camera feeds, which is what the drone footage amounts to.

    • The logical conclusion to draw would be that the footage is worse than the rumours that will be made by not releasing it. However most nuclear agencies seem to have secrecy as a default stance (one of the things which makes the Nuclear industry so dodgy IMHO) so it is just as likely that it hasn't been released because no-one wants to make the decision.
    • by ZDRuX (1010435)
      Wow, how is this post marked FLAMEBAIT?.. Wtf?.. They're scared to release photographs, so this person has some reason to be suspicious as to why that may be, and he's flagged as FLAMEBAIT? What is wrong with you people?
  • Déjà vu (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by BitterOak (537666)

    I'm getting a feeling of déjà vu. This sounds like last summer's offshore oil well leak all over again. Sooner or later the truth will come out. Trying to hide things now only makes it look like they're trying to cover something up.

    • by jhoegl (638955)

      This sounds like last summer's offshore oil well leak all over again. Sooner or later the truth will come out. Trying to hide things now only makes it look like they're trying to cover something up.

      Yup, corporations being corporate.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      www.digitalglobe.com%2Fdownloads%2FDG_Analysis_Japan_Daiichi_Reactor_March2011.pdf&ei=d1KFTe6dHJCitgeJmtm3BA&usg=AFQjCNGeRYetCcvJt-iiSKFH0Hw5vm_oJg

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:06PM (#35545698) Homepage

    According to TFA, the footage is being analyzed by nuclear power experts. What would be the point of disclosing it to the public -- lurid fascination?

    Maybe the Japanese government just thinks the Japanese public's attention would be better directed toward rebuilding the nation in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, which cause much more destruction and loss of life than this nuclear incident is ever likely to.

    • by slyborg (524607) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:39PM (#35546012)

      The point would be for the exact level of damage to the spent fuel pools to be revealed, which would confirm the level of concern that should be given contamination fears. If the pools are all full of water or show undamaged assemblies, then the public would be reassured. That they have chosen not to release this footage, by Occam's Razor, indicates that things are worse than has been definitively confirmed, although likely not worse than has been widely speculated.

      I really don't understand the strident desire by some to downplay the severity of this incident. In pure economic terms, this has crippled the Tokyo electric grid, probably for years, which is affecting the lives of tens of millions in the Tokyo area. It will also cost billions of dollars to clean up, by "clean-up" meaning entombing these particular facilities forever.

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:01PM (#35546246)

        The point would be for the exact level of damage to the spent fuel pools to be revealed, which would confirm the level of concern that should be given contamination fears.

        But the way to do that is to have the footage review by recognized experts in the field (preferably from a number of different countries).

        If they release the footage to the public then every news network will have their own nuclear "expert" pointing at a discarded firehose and claiming it's an exposed fuel rod.

        • by PCM2 (4486)

          Exactly. It's not like this footage is being buried. It is being analyzed to determine the full extent of the damage -- both in Japan and in California. What would be the point of releasing it to Fox News and the New York Post?

        • by cnaumann (466328)

          Really? Remember when BP would not release video footage from the underwater robots monitoring the oil plume from the well? Remember how they kept to their very low estimate of the amount leaking from the well? Remember how the first expert that CNN hire to analyze the footage said BP's estimate was off by at least a factor of 10? Who was right? (Of course, BP later denied making any estimate at all claiming they were using the Coast Guard's estimate based on the amount of oil on the surface.)

          Excuse me whil

        • by MrSteveSD (801820)

          If they release the footage to the public then every news network will have their own nuclear "expert" pointing at a discarded firehose and claiming it's an exposed fuel rod.

          In other words, the public should not see information about the reactor problem because they might misunderstand it or panic. That basically sums up the attitude of the nuclear industry/governments around the world. There has been a destructive culture of secrecy and lies with serious problems being covered up.

          The Japanese nuclear industry in particular has a long history of accidents, incompetence and coverups.

          1989 - Kei Sugaoka videos cracks in steam pipes at a nuclear plant. He is told to edit ou

      • by Y-Crate (540566) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:36PM (#35546572)

        The point would be for the exact level of damage to the spent fuel pools to be revealed, which would confirm the level of concern that should be given contamination fears. If the pools are all full of water or show undamaged assemblies, then the public would be reassured. That they have chosen not to release this footage, by Occam's Razor, indicates that things are worse than has been definitively confirmed, although likely not worse than has been widely speculated.

        Precisely this. There is absolutely no shortage of speculation and hypothesizing about worst case scenarios. Holding back information on the status of the facility is only going to help fuel the uncertainty produced by a lack of information!

        I really don't understand the strident desire by some to downplay the severity of this incident. In pure economic terms, this has crippled the Tokyo electric grid, probably for years, which is affecting the lives of tens of millions in the Tokyo area. It will also cost billions of dollars to clean up, by "clean-up" meaning entombing these particular facilities forever.

        When horrified people assumed that Chernobyl could happen anywhere, there was a reflexive response to dispel those fears with facts. A response which continues to this day. Unfortunately, those informed pro-nuclear attitudes have evolved to the point where a number of nuclear power's defenders steadfastly refuse to believe that anything could go significantly wrong with a reactor facility. Well-informed rationality has given way to hubris.

        A large-scale radioactive release, catastrophic system failure... these things were initially described as highly unlikely, and in the minds of some they've now reached the point of absolute impossibility. When presented with evidence that the situation at Fukushima was far more grave than initially reported, some of these people were extremely vocal in completely dismissing all concerns. When it became clear to just about everyone that the situation there was spiraling out of control, the disbelief continued. Often devolving into mocking those who thought something might be seriously wrong with the plant. (The old "OMG ATOMZ!!!!", etc attacks) It took an enormous amount of proof before this contingent of nuclear power supporters finally stopped ridiculing every bit of news from every single source as mindless fear-mongering.

        And yes, there has been fear-mongering, but there has been an almost equal amount of misplaced faith in technology. And as this situation proves, those with irrational fears of nuclear power exist on the opposite end of the spectrum of those who defend it without fail, irrespective of all evidence and fact.

        I have faith in technology, but bad things happen. No system is foolproof, and watching programmers and other well-educated people believe a particular application to be flawless is well... disheartening. It belongs in the magical fantasy land of bug-free code and cities filled with buildings lacking design flaws.

        I support nuclear power, but at the same time, I'm highly doubtful that any large company is going to provide me with the whole truth about any nuclear accident. History has shown it to be an unwise expectation. But that doesn't make me a hysterical NIMBY, and maybe this will be the wakeup call that lets people express opinions not rooted in some form of zealotry.

    • by stumblingblock (409645) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:56PM (#35546728)
      What is the point of disclosing ANYTHING to the public. Ignorant peasants would only get the wrong ideas. Better reserve secrets to maintain power.
  • by AbrasiveCat (999190) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:07PM (#35545714)
    Having just attended training in emergency preparedness, we trained not to release details, so the Japanese are just following the standard script. They also said never lie, or you will never be believed in the future. They seem to be following the script. (Actually they are giving more details that I would expect. Now I can’t give any more details of the training. Sorry. )
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Really? Were you also trained in incident command for nation or regional emergencies?

      People on the lower rungs of the hierarchy are told to not release information or talk to the press. On the other hand, the decision on how, when and to whom to release information is one of the specific tasks of the incident/emergency command and/or coordination team.
    • by westlake (615356) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @08:08PM (#35546320)

      Having just attended training in emergency preparedness, we trained not to release details, so the Japanese are just following the standard script. They also said never lie, or you will never be believed in the future. They seem to be following the script.

      Silence is not a substitute for candor.

      Silence can fuel rumors far more dangerous than the truth. Silence does not inspire trust.

      The script is not the performance:

      [Tepco] has already been severely criticised by Japan's prime minister, Naoto Kan, for failing to inform him immediately that a serious explosion had taken place following the earthquakes. "What the hell is going on?" asked Kan last week when he finally caught up with Tepco officials, in remarks picked up by a stray microphone. "Retreat is unthinkable," he told the firm, fearing that the decision to evacuate 740 staff from the stricken reactor site was the start of a complete abandonment.

      Embattled Tepco faces its BP moment over Japan nuclear disaster [guardian.co.uk]

      Now I can't give any more details of the training. Sorry.

      Why not?

      Radiation Protection - Protective Action Guides [epa.gov]

  • Leaks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:33PM (#35545962) Journal
    Where's Jullian Assange when you need him?
  • Folks - I spent a lot of my youth with the Weapons Effects Test group. We detonated weapons in the Pacific and at the Nevada Proving grounds. Bing/Google Upshot Knothole and Buster Jangle to see recently released footage of these tests. Then consider that the Japanese event doesn't even come close to releasing the radioactive material these tests released into the atmosphere. Like I say - this is a total non-event...
    • How many of those weapons tests happened on a densely populated island, with a population center of tens of millions of people downwind?
      • by russotto (537200)

        How many of those weapons tests happened on a densely populated island, with a population center of tens of millions of people downwind?

        Two.

  • by MrQuacker (1938262) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:46PM (#35546090)
    Don't these drones transmit in the clear? I thought there was a big stink in Afghanistan and Pakistan where people could "tune in" to the video feed using simple portable electronics.

    If thats the case cant some Japanese technophile just capture and broadcast the signal over the web?

    Or did USAF fix that hole and now encrypts everything?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:48PM (#35546116)

    This is a disaster and a tragedy to the nation of Japan.

    This footage does not constitute news - it's voyeurism plain and simple. If it helps the Japanese in some way, that's great.

    Maybe we should have high-resolution footage of the aftermath of every fatal car accident. It's news, right - we are entitled to have our interest piqued by the suffering and despair of others.

  • Accuracy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KH (28388) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:51PM (#35546158)

    I might have to call this one bullshit. I briefly checked Asahi, Mainichi and Yomiuri, the three major newspapers in Japan. Only Mainichi has this news. And the reporter, as far as I can gather, seems stationed in the vicinity of the Edwards AFB and seems quite a bit fascinated by the Global Hawk. So, what she reported may not be completely untrue, but can be that some facts are twisted. The report at least does not seem to be based on a press release. So, the US Air Force may, in principle, have agreed to provide the data from the drone, but it could go anywhere.

    The operation at the Fukushima 1 plant involves various organization: TEPCO, JSDF, various Fire Departments, some sort of atomic watchdog most likely reporting to some kind of ministry, and probably some organization reporting to the cabinet. I still have not figured out who is ultimately in charge. My vague impression is that the TEPCO plans, _asks_ any of the above organization that they think fit to do that job, and the said organization does the job. Not very efficient. This may be partially the reason why they seem to take so long to perform a next step.

    So, the data from the US Air Force may be given to someone in Japan, someone in the government. But I can imagine the person who was (being) given the data might not even know to whom to forward it. It may be being forwarded to the people on the ground and used for planning, assessment, etc., but they may not even think to use the footage in the next press conference; they may want to have a written warrant saying it is OK to release it, and so on. Every morning (Japan time), two organizations (TEPCO and something akin to IAEA but Japan domestic) and the cabinet spokesman are having press conferences to report on the power plant and I have yet to understand who is ultimately responsible for the operation.

    What I'm trying to say is that the reason we have not seen the footage from the Global Hawk has more to do with the complexity of the operation than some intention to hide something from the public.

    As a postscript, in the past ten days or so, I have learned to read information coming from Japan very carefully. Often even major newspapers make blatant faulty statements, often having the effect of instilling fear in the public. I find it distasteful. Yet I find hope in the Japanese netizens: when they encounter a bald statement, it has become their custom to ask for the source, a la Wikipedia, and when the source cannot be shown, the statement is determined a hoax and not further propagated. They seem to have learned the danger of hoaxes and misinformation...for most part.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Posty mainchi link if you get a second. I don't see it on the english ed. or japanese ed.

  • by 517714 (762276) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:58PM (#35546212)
    Does anyone have timelines on how quickly information on TMI and Chernobyl was disseminated for comparison? If the Japanese are ahead of the curve we should shut-up, if not then we can continue to feel smug discussing how evil corporations are, Japanese feudal power, or whatever Red/Blue opinions we have.
    • by mpoulton (689851)
      The quality and quantity of detailed information we are receiving here is far better than either TMI or Chernobyl, but that's not really a useful comparison. TMI occurred at a time when information spread much more slowly than it does now. Chernobyl also occurred in pre-internet-media days, and within the Soviet Union. In both of those cases, there was also far less technical information available to ANYONE (including the on-site staff) about the state of the reactors, due to a lack of monitoring equipme
  • Did you know (Score:5, Interesting)

    by airfoobar (1853132) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @07:59PM (#35546226)

    Fox News showed a map of the nuclear power plants in Japan. On that map, there was a suspect nuclear plant named "Shibuya Eggman". Turns out [tumblr.com] that's the name of a nightclub in the Shibuya area of Tokyo.

    Now, how is that relevant? Give the fear-mongering media a piece of footage that can be misinterpreted to induce panic, and they won't waste a minute before misrepresenting it to induce panic. Sensationalism is how they get their ratings. The people of Tokyo leaving their jobs in fear and taking to the hills is NOT what Japan's battered economy needs right now. If you ask me, we simply shouldn't read too much into the authorities' actions just yet!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    For back ground reference: we do have some areal footage [youtube.com] (source: TEPCO) and a bit of footage from the ground [youtube.com] (source: MOD)
  • It's very important to find out what has happened to reactor number 3 as it is the one powered by Mox fuel and also has the cooling "pond" next to it. This video of Fukushima reactor 3 explosion [youtube.com] shows some heavy components being thrown in the air so it would be good to get some exact data about what is going on there.

    It is on the record that this reactor facility has concealed safety issues from regulatory authorities in 2004, if I remember correctly.

  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday March 19, 2011 @09:56PM (#35547118)

    The only thing that is going to stop the wrath of these reactors is to throw the occasional virgin in.

Possessions increase to fill the space available for their storage. -- Ryan

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