News / USA

American Official Warns of Significant Radiation Risk in Japan

This handout picture shows the damaged third (L) and fourth reactors of the TEPCO Fukushima No.1 power plant in Fukushima, north of Tokyo, March 16, 2011
This handout picture shows the damaged third (L) and fourth reactors of the TEPCO Fukushima No.1 power plant in Fukushima, north of Tokyo, March 16, 2011

U.S Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a congressional panel that his commission is recommending a larger evacuation radius from Japan's Fukishima nuclear plant than Japan has ordered.

Jaczko arrived late to Wednesday's hearing because he had been called for a meeting to the White House on Japan's nuclear crisis.  Jaczko described the dire situation at Japan's Fukishima nuclear plant, saying radiation levels at the fourh reactor at that plant are "extremely high."  He said  the State Department is issuing a new recommendation for U.S. citizens in Japan.

"For a comparable situation in the United States, we would recommend an evacuation to a much larger radius than has currently been provided in Japan," he said.

Watch William Ide's report on the severity of the nuclear crisis

Jaczko said the U.S. Ambassador in Japan has been told that it would be appropriate to evacuate U.S. citizens to a 80 kilometer radius from the Fukishima nuclear plant.  Japan had ordered citizens to take precautions within a 30 kilometer-radius, with a 20 kilometer evacuation radius from the nuclear plant, and advising those within a 30 kilometer radius to stay indoors.

The combined natural disasters of an earthquake and a tsunami have put Japan's Fukishima nuclear power plant in danger of a meltdown. Jaczko and Energy Secretary Steven Chu were both on Captiol Hill to testify on their agencies' budget proposals for 2012, but the crisis in Japan dominated the hearing.

Democratic Congresswoman Doris Matsui of California expressed the concern felt by many across the world when she posed this question to Energy Secretary Chu: "Mr. Secretary, what happens if there is a meltdown in one or more of the Japanese reactors, and the containment system fails?"

Chu said he is getting conflicting reports from Japan about the current situation. "We are trying to monitor very closely, we hear conflicting reports about exactly what is happening at the several reactors that are now at risk, and I would not want to speculate on exactly what will happen," he said.

Chu admitted that the situation in Japan is already worse than the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania  in 1979, America's worst nuclear accident.  Nuclear Regulatory Chairman Jaczko sought to reassure Americans that nuclear power plants are built in the United States to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and all kinds of natural disasters. Energy Secretary Chu reaffirmed President Obama' support for nuclear power as one of a diverse set of energy  sources, and said the adminstration is committed to learning from Japan.

A number of  U.S. lawmakers expressed their support for nuclear power as an important source of electricity and of well-paid jobs for those who work at the 104 nuclear plants in the United States.  
"Obviously nuclear energy plays a vital role in the energy needs of our country today.  It provides roughly 20 percent of all electricity generated in America," said Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky.

But some, such as Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts, said the unfolding  tragedy in Japan should make the United States fundamentally re-think its energy policy as other countries are.

"China, Venezuela, Germany, Switzerland and other countries are shutting down older plants and scrapping plans for new ones.  We too need a seismic shift in our approach to nuclear reactor safety," Markey said.

In its 2012 budget proposal, the Obama administration has asked for an additional $36 billion for loan guarantees for nuclear power plant construction.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fairi
X
Brian Padden
May 29, 2015 1:27 PM
With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs