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

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
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.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs