Thursday, March 17, 2011

US nuclear agency: Japan crisis no US health threat

Editor's Note: We're posting this story to have a record of this statement, much like the EPA press release that said the air was safe to breathe in NYC exactly one week after 9/11 -- which has been subsequently removed from the EPA website.

Radiation testing in Japan © AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission sought to tamp down American fears of nuclear fallout, stressing Thursday there was no present radioactive risk to US territory from Japan's quake-stricken atomic reactor.

"All the available information continues to indicate Hawaii, Alaska, the US Territories and the US West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity," the NRC said.

The statement follows a day of near-panic buying of iodide pills in the United States, notably in California and Hawaii, the Pacific island state some 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers) east of Japan.

Demand for potassium iodide, which can protect against the effects of radioactive iodine, surged on the US West Coast, where some fear a cloud spewing from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant could be blown, drug company Anbex said.

The firm, which says it is the only US maker of the pills, was flooded with thousands of orders for its Iosat drug after last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, which has triggered an ongoing nuclear crisis.

"The spike is enormous... we were out of stock by Friday night," said Alan Morris, president of Anbex, which supplies the drug to individuals and retailers, including online.

Hawaiians also rushed to get iodide pills, store owners there said Wednesday.

US authorities have repeatedly said there is minimal risk of radioactivity reaching the US mainland, while meteorologists say it is difficult to predict exactly how far a radioactive cloud would spread across the Pacific.

California Department of Public Health's interim director, Howard Backer, also stressed the risks involved in taking potassium iodide unnecessarily.

But NRC commissioner Gregory Jaczko heightened concerns when he testified before the US Congress that there was no water left in the spent fuel pool at a the Fukushima plant's reactor 4, resulting in "extremely high" radiation levels.

The US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin may have accidentally poured fuel on the fire Tuesday during a visit to San Francisco, where she stressed that "We can't be overprepared -- we learned that with 9/11, we learned that with Katrina and we learned that this week with the tsunami."

A spokeswoman clarified her position, saying Benjamin "wouldn't recommend that anyone go out and purchase (the drug) for themselves at this time."

The NRC also said it supported the "appropriate" warning by US officials Wednesday for Americans living within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the crippled Japanese plant to evacuate or seek shelter, amid mounting concern of a catastrophic meltdown.

Japan has declared an evacuation zone of 12 miles (20 kilometers).

In the worst-ever nuclear accident, at Chernobyl in 1986, radiation fallout reached most of Europe including England, more than 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) away.

© AFP -- Published at Activist Post with license

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Anonymous said...

The more US authorities assure us that there's no danger to the US the more nervous I get. Why would they start telling us the truth now?

Anonymous said...

I suppose it depends upon what they call a harmful level, but these are the same people who declared the air safe from 9/11 and we can all see how that worked out for rescue workers.

Political Athiest said...

Part of me can sort of understand why the guv wouldn't want to risk creating utter chaos by telling everyone the truth about the radiation. I mean the Superdome during Katrina is a textbook case of how quickly humanity breaks down, particularly in Amerika. That said, I think anyone who trusts the guv and thinks they're going to save them get what they deserve. I consider this a not so thinly veiled message from our guv to be prepared b/c another big culling is coming.

See you on the other side.

TG said...

US Authorities are not telling the truth about Fukushima because they've irresponsibly handled this event just like all other major ones in world/u.s. history -- through the lens of a completely service-to-self agenda. They think that they are going to be safe from their own stupidity in one of their underground bunkers and/or can buy a seat on one of their no-so-secret space ships. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if I'm really on this planet full of so many stupid illuminati-droid-slaves.

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