U.S. NRC Blog

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Available Information Points to No Radiation Risk to U.S. From Damaged Japanese Plants

We are working with other U.S. government agencies to monitor the situation in Japan — and to monitor for radioactive releases and to be prepared to predict their path. Fortunately, all the available information at this time indicates weather conditions have taken the small releases from the Fukushima reactors out to sea away from the population.

And, importantly, given the thousands of miles between Japan and us – including Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. territories and the U.S. West Coast – we are not expecting to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity here. We would like to repeat — we are not expecting to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity here.

As expected, we are getting a lot of questions from people who are seeking information about developments at Japanese reactors. We understand the need for information, but we are not able to comment on the situation. It is an ongoing crisis for the Japanese and they have primary responsibility for handling it and communicating about it. But please stay tuned to this blog for the latest information we can provide.

Thank you for reading our blog. Remember to look at yesterday’s post about how you can help Japan in this crisis with donations.

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

27 responses to “Available Information Points to No Radiation Risk to U.S. From Damaged Japanese Plants

  1. Lee March 20, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I agree with Worries in SF Area mom. Full transparency would be very much appreciated now. It seems that the news media, government agencies, etc. are downplaying the amount of radiation that has reached California. Downplaying and not giving specific information. For instance, with the research that I’ve been doing (I’m just a non-academic), it seems that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), an arm of the United Nations, was able to detect radioactive materials in Sacramento a couple of days ago, when none of the California monitors, set up by government and special interest agencies, were able to detect the radioactive isotopes. What I’ve been able to find is that CTBTO has detection instruments with a detection level of 1 part per billion, where all the other agencies are using instruments with detection levels of one part per million. Is this the case?

    Also, what happened to the plume and where is it now? Is it still in California or did it move to other parts of Western United States? I can’t find any updated information on the plume anymore.

    Another question: Shouldn’t there be another plume heading our way? And if so, when and what is the projected route? The plume California received the past few days was from the first days of Japan’s nuclear crisis. Last Thursday, March 18, PST, is when radiation levels spiked to the highest levels so far, per CNN reports. So, isn’t it another watch and wait in another 5-7 days from last Thursday?

    Last question: Everyone (doctors, scientists, government officials, etc.) are saying that the radiation levels in California have not spiked and we should not be concerned because we are exposed to radiation everyday. But are the radioactive isotopes that we are being exposed to have the same effect as what we are exposed to daily (via the sun, cosmic radiation, etc?), It seems to me that they are markedly different isotopes and humans were not meant to be exposed to them. Please clarify. Everyone is treating the exposure to all these isotopes the same. I understand the amounts are miniscule, but I would like more detailed information. Thank you very much.

    • Daniel March 23, 2011 at 6:24 pm

      Thank you, Lee!
      You expressed exactly what is going on in my head an in that of millions of Americans too, I am sure.
      I would like to add that I am expecting much more for my tax dollars: Several US government agencies are equipped with the latest detection and imaging technologies. I would like to see some of the hard data transpire to the public, i.e., the size and shape of the plumes, their exact chemical composition at different levels above the sea, the fallout on the West Coast after all this rain, etc. Even if fission products like iodine-129 or cesium-135 might be present at extremely low concentrations in the air, we should not underestimate the capacity of certain organs – such as the thyroid gland – to accumulate and concentrate these isotopes on a daily basis, over weeks and months…. We do not know how the situation in Japan is going to evolve; it seems therefore reasonable to ask hospitals to start monitoring the radioactivity of thyroid glands in patients? But, most importantly, the public deserves to be informed properly. Words are not enough at this point.

  2. Jill March 18, 2011 at 9:17 am

    How about the radiation risk to Taiwan?? Will you reporte the levels of radioactivity in Taiwan or other country? Cause I think some gorverment will hide the information or minimize the exposure level to people. So if you can report the newest situation of the radiation, it would be very useful for us. Thank you!

  3. Worries in SF Bay Area March 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    PLEASE DON’T HIDE OR MINIMIZE EXPOSURE LEVEL ESTIMATES FOR WEST COAST!! I have 3 children under 6 years old and I can send them to live with family in Minnesota if you give our family notice and don’t hide information.
    Given the documented leaks and the current risk of full meltdown in at least one reactor, as well as the scientifically known 7 day direct wind patterns from Japan to Northern California, can a NRC scientist please post the official Plume computer data models showing wind patterns and calculated atmospheric dispersion with full radation exposure calculations? Please do this similarly to the NRC for advisory to US Citizens living in northern Japan, WITH SPECIFIC EXPOSURE ESTIMATES. Even if these are low, it would be useful to have transparancy on this issue.
    Also, could the NRC please create a credible peer reviewed site with Plume models and exposure estimates so that other credable scientists from major government agencies and universities can comment with full public transparency?

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