This morning at
8:30AM 11:15AM March 16 JST Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano held a press conference to talk about the smoke billowing from Reactor 3 at Fukushima.
At this press conference, he explained that the radiation levels spiked and that TEPCO staff would be temporarily moved to a 安全な地域 or “a safe region”. He probably should have said 場所 or “location” as Hiroko Tabuchi pointed out to me.
The foreign press misunderstood this and started reporting that the TEPCO staff had evacuated the reactor causing a broad panic. Hiroko Tabuchi of the New York Times contacted the Nuclear Industry Safety Agency and TEPCO directly to clarify and confirmed that they had not in fact been evacuated, but just moved temporarily to a safer area inside the plant during the spike. Jun Seita then reported that as of 11:30AM, NHK was reporting that the staff were back to work.
The frustrating thing was that once this corrosive and sensational misinformation was in the main stream media via the wires, it was very hard to get them to fix it. Al Jazeera was the first that I saw to edit their news story to reflect that indeed they had not been evacuated.
At the same press conference Edano accidentally said 1000 millisievert instead of 1000 microsieverts causing further confusion in the media.