Comments from U.S. Embassy and British Chamber of Commerce on radiation danger to Tokyo
A Message to American Citizens from Ambassador John V Roos
March 16, 2011
Today our hearts remain with our Japanese friends who, after suffering this devastating tragedy just four days ago, have to undertake recovery and reconstruction and address the ongoing nuclear emergency.
We understand that many of you are anxious and have questions in the shadow of the Fukushima emergency, since we are in the midst of a complex, constantly changing, and unpredictable situation. In this fluid situation, our commitment to our citizens is to accumulate accurate information and assess it sufficiently in order to make important judgments.
Since the first reports of trouble with the reactors, American nuclear experts have worked around the clock to analyze data, monitor developments, and provide clear assessments on the potential dangers. While at times we have had only limited access to information, I am personally committed to assuring that our experts have as much access and information as possible, and the necessary resources to understand the situation. I have personally been deeply engaged in these efforts.
After a careful analysis of data, radiation levels, and damage assessments of all units at Fukushima, our experts are in agreement with the response and measures taken by Japanese technicians, including their recommended 20 km radius for evacuation and additional shelter-in-place recommendations out to 30 km.
Let me also address reports of very low levels of radiation outside the evacuation area detected by U.S. and Japanese sensitive instrumentation. This bears very careful monitoring, which we are doing. If we assess that the radiation poses a threat to public health, we will share that information and provide relevant guidance immediately.
The United States will continue to work around the clock to provide precise and up-to-date information supported by expert analysis to ensure the safety and security of our citizens and to help Japan in its time of great need. U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov with detailed information about their location and contact information, and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov.
BCCJ Members Update on Japan’s Nuclear Power station situation
March 15, 2011
Telephone briefing from Sir John Beddington, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, and Hilary Walker, deputy director for emergency preparedness at the Department of Health.
“Unequivocally, Tokyo will not be affected by the radiation fallout of explosions that have occurred or may occur at the Fukushima nuclear power stations.”
The danger area is limited to within the 30 kilometer evacuation zone and no one will be allowed to enter this area other than those directly involved in the emergency procedures currently being undertaken at both Fukushima 1 & 2.
Sir John went on to answer a series of questions including a comparison between Chernobyl and Japan. He said, “they are entirely different. Chernobyl exploded and there was a subsequent fire with radioactive materials being launched 30,000 ft into the air.” The maximum height of any Fukushima explosions would be no more than 500 metres.
“The amount of radiation that has been released is miniscule and would have to be in the order of 1,000 or more for it to be a threat to humans” This was confirmed by Hilary Walker.
Sir John went on to say that the Japanese authorities are doing their best to keep the reactors cooled and that this is a continuing operation. All workers on site dealing with the emergency are being fully decontaminated at the end of each shift.
When asked how reliable the information coming from the Japanese authorities was as to radiation levels he said, “this cannot be fabricated and the Japanese authorities are posting all the readings on the recognized international information sites which they are obliged to do. Independent verification shows that the data provided are accurate.”
In answer to a specific question from the Head of the British School in Tokyo, Sir John Beddington and Hilary Walker said that there was no reason at all for the school to be closed unless there were other issues such as power outages and transport problems.
David Fitton, First Minister at the British Embassy in Tokyo moderated the teleconference and confirmed that a transcript of the briefing will be available on the embassy website.
BCCJ members are encouraged to check the embassy website regularly as well as the Chamber website and Facebook sites for the latest information.