No fallout danger to US from Japan: NRC chief
Washington: The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission believes there is no radiation danger to US territory from the nuclear reactor disaster Japan, NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko said on Thursday.
"We don't see any concern for radiation levels that could be harmful here in the United States or any of the US territories," he told reporters.
He said NRC recommended evacuating areas within 50 miles of Japan's stricken reactor as a prudent precaution.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct a "comprehensive review" of the safety of all US nuclear plants following what US officials are calling the dangerous and complicated situation at Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors.
President Barack Obama took the rare step and called upon the independent commission to conduct the review.
"When we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people," Obama said on Thursday.
Obama's statement came as he tried to reassure a worried nation that "harmful levels" of radiation from the Japanese nuclear disaster are not expected to reach the US, even as other officials conceded it could take weeks to bring the crippled nuclear complex under control.
Meanwhile, the first evacuation flight of US citizens left Japan, the State Department said.
"We've seen an earthquake and tsunami render an unimaginable toll of death and destruction on one of our closest friends and allies in the world," Obama said in brief remarks at the White House after a visit to the Japanese embassy to offer his condolences.
There are 104 nuclear reactors in the United States, providing roughly 20 percent of the nation's electricity. "Nuclear energy is an important part of our own energy future," Obama said.
A leading industry group agreed with the review.
"A review of our nuclear plants is an appropriate step after an event of this scale, and we expect that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct its own assessment," said Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute. "The industry's highest priority is the safe operation of 104 reactors in 31 states and we will incorporate lessons learned from this accident..."
In the US, Customs and Border Protection said there had been reports of radiation being detected from some cargo arriving from Japan at several airports, including ones in Chicago, Dallas and Seattle.
Radiation had not been detected in passengers or luggage. And none of the reported incidents involved harmful amounts.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the agency was screening passengers and cargo for "even a blip of radiation”.