Officials: No radiation danger to U.S. or territories

Obama said that the radiation leaking from a damaged nuclear power plant will not harm those on American soil

Topics: Japan Earthquake, Japan, Nuclear Power,

Officials: No radiation danger to U.S. or territoriesA woman holds her dog as they are scanned for radiation at a temporary scanning center for residents living close to the quake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant Wednesday, March 16, 2011, in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)(Credit: AP)

The Obama administration said Thursday that radiation leaking from the crippled Japanese nuclear complex does not present a danger to the western United States or its Pacific territories at this time. Officials also defended a proposed 50-mile evacuation zone for American troops and citizens in Japan.

“I want to stress this is a prudent and precautionary measure to take,” Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told a White House briefing. The evacuation zone recommended by the U.S. is far wider than that established by Japan, which has called for a 12-mile zone and has told those within 20 miles to stay indoors.

Daniel B. Poneman, deputy secretary of energy, told the briefing that his agency agreed with the 50-mile zone, calling it “a prudent move.”

A “very dangerous situation” remains in Japan, he said.

Still, Jaczko said, “Basic physics and basic science tells us there really can’t be any harm to anyone here in the United States or Hawaii or any territories,” such as Guam, American Samoa or the Northern Marianas.

Jaczko said the U.S. recommendation for the 50-mile evacuation zone was based on the “possibility of scenarios that we haven’t seen yet.” He also said it was based on “prudent assumptions and prudent assessments about what could happen.”

You Might Also Like

Asked could be done to make sure that radiation from the world’s worst nuclear emergency in a quarter century would not harm the United States, Jaczko said: “We are really focused on making sure first and foremost that the plants in this country are safe.”

The officials spoke as Japanese emergency workers sought to regain control of the dangerously overheated nuclear complex, dousing it with water from police cannons, fire trucks and helicopters to cool nuclear fuel rods that were threatening to spray out more radiation.

The U.S. Energy Department said it had conducted two separate tests to measure how much radioactive material had been deposited on the ground in Japan. That data, Poneman said, was consistent with the recommendation for American citizens to evacuate a 50-mile radius around the plant.

The U.S. officials declined to criticize the Japanese call for a smaller evacuation zone.

“We’re analyzing the information, and we’re sharing it with the Japanese,” said Poneman. “The preliminary look has indicated that the measures that have been taken (by the Japanese) have been prudent ones. And we have no reason to question the assessment that has been made or the recommendation that has been made by the Japanese authorities.”

Facts on the ground at the damaged nuclear plant are “genuinely complex and genuinely confusing,” the deputy energy secretary added.

The crisis has been complicated by the spare and often contradictory information issued by the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Co., heightening a sense of uncertainty about what’s happening in the reactors.

“It’s not easy to get information from the site,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

Carney said that President Barack Obama, who was to address the crisis in a late-afternoon statement, had taken the rare step of asking the NRC, which is an independent agency, to take into account what is happening in Japan and to apply lessons learned to the analysis of security and safety of reactors here. “The fact that the president has made that request himself only adds to the urgency of that mission,” Carney said.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>