Japan Radiation Fallout Reaches California Coast
David Hope
Mar 18, 2011, 08:10

Japan radiation fallout took to the skies and made the trip across the Pacific, finally reaching the coastline of California. While many feared that this would happen - experts say there's no immediate health issues or concerns.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed their belief that there is no radiation danger to U.S. soil from the nuclear disaster in Japan, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said.

"Basic physics and science say there can't be any risk or harm to the United States," Hawaii, Alaska or U.S. territories in the Pacific Ocean, Jaczko said Thursday during a White House briefing.

Meanwhile, Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, wrote to Jaczko to request the NRC conduct a thorough investigation of U.S. nuclear facilities to assess their capacity to withstand natural or man-made disasters.

"Public safety is our top priority, and it is therefore vital that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission extensively investigate the risks posed to nuclear facilities in the United States as soon as possible," the letter read. "We believe it is important to assist Japan to ensure that the nuclear disaster is contained as quickly, safely and effectively as possible, and we will closely monitor the situation as it unfolds."

When discussing the situation in Japan, Jaczko said U.S. nuclear plants have procedures and equipment in place to handle a catastrophic event such as the one in Japan.

He said the decision to evacuate U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the Fukushima nuclear power plant was a "prudent measure" given the situation in the nuclear facility is a "very significant crisis."

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is a stark reminder of the risks inherent in nuclear power. One of its consequences has been heightened concern about the safety of nuclear power facilities in the United States.

The Union for Concerned Scientists said the NRC gets mixed reviews in its work to assure U.S. facilities are safe, saying in a report released Thursday the independent agency had 14 "near misses" at nuclear plants during 2010.

The events exposed a number of shortcomings, including inadequate training, faulty maintenance, poor design and failure to investigate problems thoroughly, the organization said in a release.

"The chances of a disaster at a nuclear power plant are low -- and current events remind us how important it is to keep them that way," the release said. "The new report shows that the NRC is capable of functioning as a highly effective watchdog, but also makes clear that much work remains to be done before the agency can fulfill that role as consistently as the public has a right to expect."

Source: UPI

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