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Summer Journal

Volume 27, Issue 3

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Wild Radiation Speculation Unfounded

As the situation has progressed, there has been more than adequate media speculation on the damage to the nuclear power plants at Fukushima Dai-ichi.

Now that radiation exposure has been measured, continuing the evacuation in areas within the immediate areas up to 20 kilometers from the plant is recommended but speculating about radiation at a level to seriously impact the rest of Japan or any other nation is simply unfounded.

Recovery is a different matter. First there is the issue of lives and property lost or damaged by both the earthquake and the tsunami. Comforting those who lost loved ones, the injured, and the homeless due to displacement is the first humanitarian concern. Rebuilding is next, perhaps starting with replacing the damaged or destroyed electric transmission and distribution system. Without power, returning to homes and businesses will be greatly hampered. This could take months. The economic impact should be of concern far beyond Japan.

The nuclear incident, although frightening at first, will not have the consequences initially predicted, primarily by the news media. Look back to Three Mile Island. Has anyone moved away? Is Harrisburg still a vital city nearby? Of course. The question of future use of nuclear power is one of careful planning and safety procedures, not one of whether or not we need them or will have them. We do need them. We will have them, and people had better learn how to plan for a possible emergency.

Has anyone in the U.S. who live within 25 miles of a nuclear plant moved since the incident in Japan? I doubt it.

Tom Phelan, Ed.D., is professor and program director , emergency and disaster management and fire science, at American Public University’s School of Public Safety and Health.