No One Died From Radiation Exposure at Fukushima, Says Top U.S. Nuclear Regulator

Christopher Goins | October 25, 2011 | 10:53am EDT
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Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, speaking at the White House. (AP Photo)

( - The U.S. government's top nuclear regulator said Monday that no one has died as a result of exposure to radiation from Japan's Fukushima Daiiche nuclear power plant, which was hit by a tsunami in March.

He did say that some people died at the plant as a result of the tsunami itself.

“What we know right now, there have been no fatalities we are aware of that are directly related to radiation exposure," said Gregory B. Jaczko, the chairman of the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "I believe there were a few workers who were killed at the plant because they were performing work and when the Tsunami hit, they lost their life.”

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Jaczko, speaking at an events sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was responding to this question from “Would it be accurate to say that no one has died as a result of exposure to radiation in Fukushima? And secondly, can you assure that no one will die as a result of exposure to radiation in the future?”

“There are some workers who have received levels of radiation that are higher than we normally allow in this country for normal operations, but in an emergency situation the kinds of exposures that people could be exposed to," Jaczko said. "But none of those would present an immediate threat to their life based on what we know from the indications we have right now.

"There were a few workers that early on were exposed to some high levels of radiation through contact with contaminated water," he continued. "Again, nothing that is going to lead to an immediate loss of life because of that radiation exposure.

"So, these will be people that will be monitored," he said. "It’s a very important principle in the nuclear industry that we put an important emphasis on monitoring peoples' exposure to radiation. So, whenever I go to a nuclear power plant, for instance, I carry with me instruments that will monitor my radiation exposure. And I get a report of that every year and what that is. It is very low.

"In general," Jaczko continued, "most people are going to be exposed to more radiation in medical diagnostic procedures than they ever will, certainly, from a nuclear power plant.

"So right now we don’t see any evidence of any exposures that would likely lead to immediate kinds of loss of life or these kinds of things," he asid. "But it is something certainly that will be monitored as people go forward to see if there are any specific health effects that can be tied to the exposures that people are getting."

The NRC is the federal agency responsible for regulating civilian uses of radioactive materials in the United States, including at commercial nuclear power plants

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