Nuclear Test Ban Organization Collects Radiation Data, But Isn't Allowed to Show You

fukushima explosion photo

photo: Oldmaison/Creative Commons

There's lots of different information out there on just how much radiation has been released from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, with many people feeling like the full story hasn't been told. Well, a really interesting twist to that: Nature's blog reports that the international nuclear test ban agency likely has some better information, but isn't allowed to make it publicly available--even though it makes available data it collects on seismic activity and this data is used in tsunami early warning systems.On the data the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization (CTBTO) collects:

The CTBTO has 60 radionuclide particulate monitoring stations currently in operation, and two of these are in Japan, near Tokyo, while there are dozens of others, often on islands, throughout the Asia-Pacific region (see map). These stations monitor the air continuously, and so will have extensive data on any radionuclides detected during the ongoing nuclear disaster that followed the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, and destructive tsunami, that hit Japan on 11 March.


Map of those particulate monitoring stations: CTBTO

Even though this data is constantly sent to member states, those who are signatories of the test ban treaty, those same member states have not mandated CTBTO to release that information, unless that radiation is the result of a detected nuclear test.

A spokesperson for CTBTO told Nature, "We have a mandate from our 182 member states to communicate seismic data to the outside world.. When it comes to this radionuclide data, we don't have such a mandate, so I can't tell you, for example, what it is and what we are finding."

So... Let's not get mad at CTBTO for following it's mandate regarding data release, but perhaps it's time for it's members states to mandate the organization to add nuclear accidents to the list of situations in which it makes its valuable information publicly available.

Read more: Nature
More on the Japanese Earthquake:
Mini-FAQ About Japan's Nuclear Power Plant Crisis
How Much Radiation Exposure Do You Normally Get Every Year?