Fri, Mar 18, 2011 - Page 5 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: US deploys more radiation monitors in western states

AP, SAN FRANCISCO

More radiation monitors are being deployed in the western US and Pacific territories, as US officials seek to mollify public concern over exposure from damaged nuclear plants in Japan, federal environmental regulators said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already monitors radiation throughout the area as part of its RadNet system, which measures levels in air, drinking water, milk and rain.

The additional monitors are being deployed in response to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, where emergency workers are attempting to cool overheated reactors damaged by last week’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

Officials with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said they did not expect harmful radiation levels to reach the US from Japan.

“The agency decided out of an abundance of caution to send these deployable monitors in order to get some monitors on the ground closer to Japan,” said Jonathan Edwards, director of the EPA’s radiation protection division.

California already has 12 monitoring stations scattered throughout the state that test the air for radiation levels. The EPA also has 40 so-called “deployable” monitors that can be moved around in cases of emergency.

The EPA told reporters it was adding two more stations in Hawaii and two in Guam. In Alaska, officials are setting up three new monitors in Dutch Harbor, Nome and Juneau.

The idea is to get a better geographic spread of monitoring equipment than currently exists, Edwards said.

Once up and running, the stations will send real-time data via satellite to EPA officials, who will make the data available to the public online.

The monitors also contain two types of air filters that are collected and mailed to the EPA’s data center in Alabama.

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