`Radiation from Japanese N-plant won`t reach US`

US is not worried about radiation spreading from the quake-hit Japan.

Last Updated: Mar 16, 2011, 13:53 PM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama has said that he was not worried about radiation from the quake hit Japanese nuclear power plant reaching Hawaii.

Asked about whether he is worried about the radiation
from Japan reaching the US shores, Obama said, "No. I`ve been
assured that it...any nuclear release dissipates by the time
it gets even to Hawaii, much less to the mainland of the US."

"I do think it`s important for us to think through
constantly how we can improve nuclear technologies to deal
with additional safety concerns," Obama said when asked about
the safety of nuclear plants in the US during an interview
with a Pittsburgh television station.

"We constantly monitor? I asked this question of our
nuclear regulatory commission. We constantly monitor seismic
activity," he said.

Obama said all energy sources have downsides and none
are foolproof, adding that the US learned that last summer
during the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Earlier in the day, Energy Secretary Steven Chu
announced that the Department of Energy has offered Japan an
aerial measuring system capability, including detectors and
analytical equipment used to provide assessments of
contamination on the ground. In total, the DOE team includes
34 people.

"We have offered our Japanese friends disaster
response experts, search and rescue teams, technical advisors
with nuclear expertise, and logistical support from the United
States military," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The president is being kept up to date and is
constantly being briefed by his national security staff.

The national security staff in the White House is also
coordinating a large inter-agency response with experts
meeting around the clock to monitor the latest information
coming out of Japan, he said.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it has
sent nine additional experts to Tokyo to provide assistance as
requested by the Japanese government. Acting as part of a US
Agency for International Development assistance team, the NRC
has dispatched the experts to Tokyo to provide assistance as
requested by the Japanese government, it said.

The first members of the team left the US Monday
evening and were due to arrive in Tokyo Wednesday afternoon.
The team includes additional reactor experts, international
affairs professional staffers, and a senior manager from one
of the NRC`s four operating regions.

Meanwhile, Obama has asked the NRC to evaluate the
situation of nuclear power plants in the US and incorporate
the lessons learnt from the Japanese nuclear tragedy in its
review, according to the White House.

"He (Obama) has asked the NRC to evaluate the
situation, the lessons learned from Japan as that information
comes available and to incorporate it in its overall reviews
of the safety and security of the reactors here in the United
States," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

Noting that this is what the NRC does in any case,
Carney said Obama has added his voice, which is a singular and
substantial voice, to the call for the need to do that today.

"We have very specific and detailed plans in how
response would be coordinated and which agencies would take
the lead. Depending on what kind of incident we`re discussing
here, there is not a one-size-fits-all response, we believe,
and that`s why we take the approach we take," he said.

The NRC is responsible for all the facilities and for
the licensing and permitting the evaluations of their safety
standards and the upgrade of their safety procedures if they
so deem it necessary.
If the NRC decided that a facility was no longer safe,
either because of something that had happened in that facility
or because of new information, it has the authority to take
the steps necessary to suspend activity at that facility or to
shut it down.

Carney said the NRC has made the judgment that US
facilities are safe and secure. "They are constantly
evaluating their standards, their procedures, taking in new
information, and making adjustments accordingly. That would
apply to old reactors as well as newer ones," he said.

Post tsunami in Indonesia, NRC had performed a review
of safety measures and made evaluations based on that in terms
of the safety and security of US nuclear facilities.

"So it simply stands to reason that you make models
for various scenarios and every time there is new information
that comes in from an actual event you take that data and you
analyze it and you examine whether or not it affects the
models you have for safety and security of your facilities,"
he said.

PTI