News / USA

US Troops Ready to Enter Japan's Nuclear Danger Zone

The commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific says he is sending his troops into the danger zone near the Japan's crippled nuclear power plants as needed, and if necessary he will send more to help prevent a meltdown of the reactors' fuel and the release of large amounts of harmful radiation.

In a phone call from his headquarters in Hawaii, Admiral Robert Willard told reporters at the Pentagon everything possible must be done to avoid the worst case scenario.

"That would be a situation where the recovery effort to keep the cores covered in these reactors would ever be abandoned. And we believe that that can't happen, that we must do everything required to keep water and cooling affecting these reactors," said Willard.

Japanese engineers working in and near the reactors have had difficulty keeping the reactor cores cooled and spent fuel rods covered with water. If they fail in that effort, large amounts of radiation would be released, creating a contamination cloud that could affect millions of people in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

But Admiral Willard says reports he has received indicate the team at the reactors had more success on Thursday and he is "cautiously optimistic" a full meltdown of the nuclear fuel will be avoided. He indicated he will send more forces into the most dangerous area near the reactors to help if necessary.

"We, when necessary, will conduct operations inside that radius, when they're in support of the Japanese Defense Forces," he said. "So while U.S. citizens are constrained from operating in there, my forces are not, when they're needed to conduct humanitarian assistance, disaster response or logistics support to our Japanese friends or to our own forces or any other forces that we happen to be supporting."

Admiral Willard has 15 ships and thousands of naval, ground and air force personnel  working to help Japan deal with the damaged nuclear reactors and the humanitarian crisis caused by the earthquake and tsunami. And he has unmanned, remotely controlled aircraft that can fly close to the reactors to gather data without endangering any pilots.

He also has a small team working with Japanese officials to assess the danger in areas near the reactors, and he has 450 more experts in radiological contamination on alert to be deployed to Japan if needed.

In addition, all U.S. aircraft and ships in the area have sensors on them, and any data on radiological contamination is immediately shared with the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Admiral Willard says he is in regular contact with Japan's top military officer, General Ryoichi Oriki, and the U.S. commander in Japan is sharing a headquarters with the Japanese disaster relief commander. Willard says the American and Japanese militaries are well prepared to work together in such a situation after decades of close relations and joint exercises.

"Exercise in disaster response and humanitarian assistance is part of our regular exercise series, and then together we go beyond that to become truly two interoperable militaries," he said.

Willard calls the current joint relief effort a "natural fit", but he acknowledges that the triple disasters - the earthquake, tsunami and meltdown threat - go beyond anything the two militaries have ever practiced dealing with.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs