News / USA

    Expert: Nuclear Radiation Could Spread Far Beyond Japan

    Officials in protective gear near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in Koriyama, March 13, 2011
    Officials in protective gear near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in Koriyama, March 13, 2011
    Michael Bowman

    An American nuclear expert says radiation from Japan could spread across the Pacific and reach the United States if a complete meltdown occurs at a Japanese nuclear facility damaged as a result of last week’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  

    Nuclear expert Joseph Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund says Japan’s nuclear crisis is in a critical phase.

    "One of the [Japanese] reactors has had half the core exposed already. This is the one they are now flooding with seawater in a desperate effort to prevent a complete meltdown."

    Cirincione spoke on the Fox News Sunday television program. He said the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Japan’s northeast coast is one of at least three nuclear facilities at risk.

    Japan has evacuated civilians from areas surrounding the troubled plant, but Cirincione says radiation could spread far beyond Japan if efforts to contain the crisis fail.

    Explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant

    "The worst-case scenario is that the fuel rods fuse together - temperatures get so hot that [they] melt together into a radioactive molten mass that busts through the containment mechanisms. So they spew radioactivity into the ground, into the air, into the water. Some of that radioactivity could carry in the atmosphere to the west coast of the United States."

    Japan’s ambassador in Washington, Ichiro Fujisaki, acknowledged potential dangers, but said no complete nuclear meltdown appears imminent.

    "It is true that part of [the] fuel rod may have been deformed or melting. But it is not a situation where [the] core reactor, the substantial part of [the] reactor, is melting down."

    The ambassador spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press. Also appearing on the program was the head of the U.S. Nuclear Energy Institute, Marvin Furtel, who praised Japan’s response to the nuclear crisis. Furtel said a meltdown at a nuclear power plant does not always result in a massive release of radiation, as America’s own history shows.

    "At Three Mile Island [in Pennsylvania], which was the worst accident we ever had, about half of the core melted, so about 50 percent.  It resulted in no [radiation] releases off-site that threatened anybody. So, you can have fuel melt, and if the rest of your safety systems, your containment, works and you manage to keep the reactor under control, the dangers for public health and safety are really minimal."

    Some U.S. legislators are suggesting heightened scrutiny of America’s nuclear energy program in the wake of Japan’s crisis. Independent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman says new nuclear facility construction should be placed on hold pending a full assessment of potential risks. But the Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, says it would be a mistake to make domestic energy decisions based on fears surrounding a tragedy in another nation.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora