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Radiation Not Expected to Affect Californians

posted Mar 26, 2011, 3:51 PM by Golden Knight

By Marc Magallanes

3/21/2011

Overhead view of the Fukushima Daiichi Plant

As the rain falls in Southern California, concerns rise with the possible nuclear fallout from the malfunctioning Fukushima Daiichi power plant reaching the United States mainland. Experts believe that the plumes initially arrived on Friday, March 18, on the west coast of the United States. No unusual increases in radiation levels have been detected. However, this has not stopped citizens taking preventative measures, including stockpiling potassium iodide tablets believed to protect thyroid glands from radioactive exposure.

 This nuclear accident, possibly the largest since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, was the result of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The redundancies built in to prevent a meltdown of the nuclear reactor were destroyed by the 9.0 earthquake and the resultant 10 meter (32.8 feet) tidal wave that managed to easily top the 5.7 meter (18.7 feet) wall. Without electricity provided to power the water pumps needed to cool the nuclear rods, the cores threatened to meltdown, an action which would release radioactive material into the environment. Japanese officials remain hopeful to stop a total nuclear meltdown in all reactors.

 President Obama reassured states along the Pacific Ocean that there was no expected harm. He said, “Whether it’s the west coast, Hawaii, Alaska or U.S. territories in the Pacific, we do not expect harmful levels of radiation. That’s the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts.” Experts such as South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Philip Fine corroborated Obama’s statement saying, “We have not detected any increases beyond what you’d expect historically. Nothing you can attribute to Japan.” Officials said whatever radiation in the atmosphere will be greatly diluted by the time it arrives 5,000 miles to California. Some have raided local pharmacies for potassium iodide to prevent the possibility of thyroid cancer. Any misusage of the potassium iodide may cause more harm than good, especially for those who take the incorrect dosage and people who have allergies to iodine, shellfish, or those with thyroid problems.

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