President Obama turned on Thursday directly to the American people when he reassured them in a brief televised speech following the Japanese nuclear accident that “we do not expect that harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States, whether it is the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska or the U.S. territories in the Pacific.”.
The speech follows heightened concern in America following the increasingly serious reports about the damaged nuclear plant Fukushima Daiichi. The nuclear accident completely dominates the news in this country these days.
Obama said that Americans do not need to take specific preventive measures and also said he had ordered a comprehensive security review of all U.S. nuclear power plants.
Of the 104 nuclear plants in the country 23 are of the same type, General Electric Mark 1, as the Japanese plant. Several of these are located near densely populated areas, such as that in Toms River, New Jersey, which lies just 60 miles from New York City.
About 20 percent of this country’s electricity comes from nuclear power. Since the accident, the Obama Administration has not taken any drastic actions similar to what has happened in Germany and China. It still remains a supporter of nuclear power as part of creating a more environmentally friendly energy policy, which was also underlined by Obama in his speech as well as by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, when he testified in Congress on Wednesday. We follow events in Japan very closely and we are prepared to learn from them, said Chu.
He also said that while the Japanese nuclear accident can prove to be more severe than that the one experienced in 1979 at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania. It resulted in that no new nuclear plants were built in America for 30 years.
In another appearance before Congress on Wednesday, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, said that American experts believe that the radioactive emissions at the Japanese plan are “extremely high,” but Japanese authorities have denied that this was the case.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government ordered its citizens in Japan to be much further away – more than 60 kilometers – from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and evacuation of American citizens from Japan has started on a voluntary basis.