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

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: US Army Turns Its Best Minds Toward Ebola

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Dissident Venezuelan General Resurfaces in New York

Antonio Rivero has resurfaced after nearly a year in hiding, appearing at United Nations in New York 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.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid