Japan to develop hazardous substances warning system

Japan's Ministry of Defense is contemplating the development of a system that can predict the spread of hazardous substances that could be released into the environment by terrorists or as the result of a natural disaster.

The system would be set up to trace biological and chemical agents such as sarin gas or anthrax, as well as radioactive materials. Predictions would need to be made approximately every five minutes and projected on maps covering at least a 24 hour period, according to Yomiuri.co.jp.

The ministry recently said that the system would be used primarily to ensure the safety of the Japanese Self-Defense Force personnel that would be involved in any kind of cleanup operation.

The System for the Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information is already in place to survey the spread of radioactive substances potentially released from nuclear plants and related facilities. Japan currently has no other means to predict the spread of other dangerous toxins.

Initial plans call for the purchase of specially equipped vehicles mounted with sensor arrays that can safely move through affected areas and take up-to-the-minute readings, Yomiuri.co.jp reports.

With accurate data on weather conditions, terrain and the location of various structures, ministry officials hope to be able to determine the exact origin of any new threat. SDF forces could then be deployed to take immediate action.