A consulting firm linked to the nuclear industry produced erroneous projections for the spread of radiation from reactors in the event of meltdowns, sources said Wednesday.

The revelation casts doubt on the ability of the Nuclear Regulation Authority to serve as a watchdog, as it outsourced the projection work to the consultancy through the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, which originally made a contract for the project and merely released the forecasts.

The projections were created by CSA of Japan Co. According to a credit research firm, CSAJ is a member of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum nuclear industry body and does business with JNES and a subsidiary of Tohoku Electric Power Co.

The radiation spread projection work was outsourced to the consulting firm for ¥9.77 million by JNES, which took on the project from the predecessor of the NRA in March, the sources said.

The predecessor Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency set the deadline for the projection work at the end of May, but that was delayed until shortly before Oct. 24, when the NRA released its first projections for the spread of radiation from reactors in the case of a meltdown crisis like the one at Fukushima No. 1.

JNES subcontracted the project to CSAJ due to a lack of manpower, it said. But the sources doubted this, as only one worker at the consultancy was told to enter data into a simulation program the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission created, the sources said.

The data used for the forecasts, including wind directions, were provided by utilities that operate nuclear plants, they said.

NRA spokesman Hideka Morimoto apologized for errors as the projections were for evacuation plans.

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