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

Russia's 'V-Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

Critics say Soviet-style display of power, nationalism don't recognize tragic scars of warfare that still influence politics, fighting in Ukraine More

Tensions Simmer in Hong Kong in Lead Up to Vote

Many Hong Kong citizen say if the reform plan will be a step back for the pro-democracy movement if passed More

Multimedia Obama Calls for New Commitment to Help Minority Youths Succeed

President introduces My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, foundation supporting better education and job prospects 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.
Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalistsi
X
May 04, 2015 3:32 PM
Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs