Engineers scrutinize US NRC's Japan evacuation call

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Nuclear engineers on Thursday aggressively questioned the data and decisions behind the call from the US nuclear regulator for a 50-mile evacuation zone around a failed Japanese nuclear plant.
A committee of top engineers that advises the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and reviews all its studies and license applications said it wants access to all the modeling data for the evacuation call.
"This was a very, very important decision. I would have expected there would have been high-level conversations between our regulatory bodies and our government (with their Japanese counterparts)", said Sam Armijo, former head of GE's nuclear fuel business, who invented the fuel cladding used on boiling water reactors.
The recommendation for US citizens to leave that zone -- far larger than the 12-mile evacuation area that Japanese authorities had in place -- sparked international concern about the extent of the crisis at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima plant earlier this month.
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