Today (11 March) marks the two year anniversary of the triple meltdown at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. The meltdown was the worst in nuclear history since Chernobyl in April 1986. Two former US Navy sailors, who were directly exposed to Fukushima radiation on board the USS Ronald Reagan during the U.S. Navy's rescue effort, will testify later today to growing medical problems they are experiencing as a result of their exposure.
More than 150 service men and women have reported medical issues as a result of exposure. The two sailors will talk about the 115-person lawsuit they have joined with other former and current military personnel against the nuclear plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), for misleading US officials about the extent of radiation released from its stricken reactors.
The event will take place at 1 p.m. today at the New York Academy of Medicine, Fifth Ave at 103rd Street. The news conference will be a first-day highlight of "The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident" symposium sponsored by the Helen Caldicott Foundation and Physicians for Social Responsibility on the growing medical fallout from the Fukushima reactor crisis. The Helen Caldicott Foundation works to educate the public about the medical hazards of nuclear weapons and nuclear power. There is a cost to attend the two day conference, which is open to the public.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) lists over 100 nuclear reactors in the United States, the majority of which are in the East. Emergency management agencies here include two “emergency planning zones” in their plans. The first zone covers the immediate 10-mile radius of the plant. It is possible that people could be harmed by direct radiation exposure in this zone. Local phone books include evacuation routes for those residing or working within that zone. In addition local emergency management agencies affected by a possible evacuation have regular exercises involving that scenario. The second zone is generally up to a 50-mile radius from the plant. This area may have to deal with secondary effects of radiation. This could include contaminated water supplies, food crops and livestock.
Would you know what to do in a nuclear accident?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lists suggestions on Ready.gov. Being prepared is the best defense.
• Create an emergency supply kit. This is also called a “bug out bag.”
• Copies of medications and important paperwork such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, deeds and insurance papers.
• Have a family emergency plan. Everyone should know where to meet in the event home is not an option. Take into consideration where you work or where the children attend school. Know the school’s evacuation policy. Do not necessarily expect to be able to pick up your child at the school.
In the event of an incident, you will be notified via the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for specific information. This information will include the nature and possibly the severity of the situation, as well as instructions to either evacuate or sequester in place. During the incident, keep air vents closed. If evacuating, this means your car. Use recycling air but not fresh since it may contain radiation particles. If sequestering in place, turn off the ventilation fans, the air condition and close the flue on your chimney. Board up your windows. The more materials between you and the radiation, the less likely you are to be adversely affected. Stay indoors and continue to monitor the news.
After an incident, again listen to municipal authorities for instructions pertaining to decontamination. Do not delay in seeking medical treatment for any unusual symptoms, such as nausea.
Get involved with your local emergency management agency. Volunteer. Take classes offered online from FEMA.
This article was taken in part from a press release by the Helen Caldicott Foundation.
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