News / USA

Japan's Nuclear Crisis Renews Safety Debate

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, left, accompanied by Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman, briefs reporters at the White House regarding nuclear concerns following Japan's earthquake and tsunami, March 14, 2011
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, left, accompanied by Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman, briefs reporters at the White House regarding nuclear concerns following Japan's earthquake and tsunami, March 14, 2011

President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States is doing everything it can to assist Japan in dealing with the aftermath of last week's earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting crisis at Japanese nuclear power plants.  Meanwhile, U.S. officials are discussing concerns that events in Japan raise for nuclear power generation in the United States.

Nuclear power is an important component of energy production in the United States, providing about 20 percent of electricity consumed in the country.

But explosions at earthquake damaged Japanese atomic reactors, as Japanese officials struggle to prevent nuclear core meltdowns, have sparked renewed debate in the U.S. and elsewhere about the safety of nuclear power.

Appearing at a White House news briefing, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said that due to the distance involved, there is little chance that harmful radiation from Japan's damaged reactors will reach Hawaii or the U.S. mainland.

But reporters pressed him about the extent to which the situation in Japan could alter Obama administration thinking about the safety of nuclear power plants in service in the United States.

"What I can say is, we have a strong safety program in place to deal with seismic events that are likely to happen at any nuclear facility in this country," Jaczko said.  "As we get past this immediate crisis, where we continue to provide support to the Japanese, we will gather information about the specifics of the event.  But I don't want to speculate too much about what exactly were the relevant factors in Japan at this point."

Jaczko called the situation in Japan "serious," and said U.S. reactors are built to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis.

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said U.S. officials will take into account information emerging from events in Japan, but he indicated there will be no sudden change in U.S. energy policy.

"We are going to continue to take all learnings into account as we proceed, from episodes that happen, from hypotheticals that we might be able to come up with," he said.  "[There is] nothing new about it.  It is a matter of our continuous approach to our own development or our energy resources to make sure they are done continuously and safely."

President Barack Obama meets with Danish PMr Lars Lokke Rasmussen at the White House, March 14, 2011
President Barack Obama meets with Danish PMr Lars Lokke Rasmussen at the White House, March 14, 2011

President Obama said the United States and other nations will stand by Japan and provide whatever assistance it needs to deal with  the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear situation.

The president spoke in the Oval Office after he met with visiting Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen.

"I am in close contact with [Japanese] Prime Minister [Naoto] Kan," he said.  "And our teams are in close cooperation, as is our military, in the region, and we expect to continue that cooperation until we have some stabilization of the situation."

The president did not mention the debate in the United States about nuclear power resulting from the situation in Japan.  He spoke only in general terms about the need for the U.S. to move more toward energy independence.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Jaczko told reporters that U.S. technical experts are in Tokyo to help their Japanese counterparts deal with damage to reactors from the earthquake and tsunami.

Asked whether he could say the situation in Japan might worsen, Jaczko declined to speculate.  But he said that Japan is a technically advanced nuclear country with significant resources.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid