Records Show Confusion in U.S. at Start of Japan’s Atomic Crisis via The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Something resembling a “fog of war” prevailed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s headquarters in the first hours and days after the Fukushima accident began last March, the N.R.C.’s chairman said Tuesday, as the agency released a cache of transcripts of internal conference calls beginning hours after the earthquake.

On Day 7, a participant who is not identified by name said that the Japanese had asked the N.R.C. “how we deal with extending dose,” or allowing workers to soak up higher amounts of radiation in an emergency. “We just told them for emergencies and a condition like this, we have guidelines that let us go to a certain limit. But in this case, you need to do what you need to do to get it done,” said the unidentified N.R.C. voice on the line.

He also remarked that there would be questions about the safety of reactors in the United States with the same design. “I think we have to take the position that we’re safe,” he said. “We were safe yesterday, we’re safe today, and we’re going to be safer tomorrow based on what we’ve learned.”

At that point, an unidentified participant responded: “This is good. I mean, the president is calling for an assessment of the safety of nuclear power in this country. And I’m not exactly sure what that means yet, but I think we have an opportunity to shape it. And I would jump in and shape it in roughly the same direction you’re pointing.”

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