Officials: Panic over Japan's nuclear leak unnecessary in China

14:29, March 17, 2011      

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A Japanese woman is reading news about explosion happened on reactors of the Fukushima Daichi No. 1 nuclear power plant in Japan after last Friday's devastating tsunami and earthquake on March 15.(Photo by Xinhua/NHK)

On March 16, some authoritative experts and officials answered questions about radiation pollution, food safety and radiation protection measures to Xinhua reporters to ease worries from the public about the potential threat of radiation from Japan's recent nuclear leak.

Japan was struck by an earthquake and tsunami last Friday. A subsequent explosion at a nuclear power facility in the quake-hit region has caused fears in the Chinese public that the radiation could reach China's shores, which officials were quick to dismiss.

They pointed out that Japan's nuclear leakage will not be harmful to China based on the current situation. The radiation area map that has been spread on Internet forums and e-mails is not based on science and fact, they said.

Relevant departments of the Chinese government are monitoring and updating the real situation, and in the event that anything bad should happen, they will announce it to public in time. The public should learn and grasp knowledge about radiation protection, but there is no need to panic at all.

Radiation area map spread on Internet is based on nothing

Recently, a map claiming to show the spread of radiation around Japan, which includes most parts of coastal areas in China's southeast, has been widely spread on Internet as well as rumors and worries among Chinese Internet users.

However, the map is based on nothing, neither science nor fact.

Chen Zhuzhou, an expert from National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee (NNECC), said Japan's nuclear leak has not had negative effects on China currently. China has initiated a national radiation environment monitoring network to inspect radiation, but nothing abnormal has been found as of now.

Sun Jun, head of China's National Meteorological Center and advisory expert of the NNECC, said that many elements affect the spread of the nuclear material. Meteorology, especially wind and precipitation, is the main factor.

Wind will decide the speed and direction of nuclear material's spread. The stronger wind is, the farther nuclear material would spread. If precipitation occurs, radioactive materials would mix with water and be brought down to the ground, so the spread would be reduced, Sun said.

Make sure public knows real situation

Chen Xiaoqiu, a researcher of nuclear and radiation safety center from China's Environmental Protection Ministry, said China has initiated the national radiation environment monitoring network to follow Japan's nuclear leak closely, and they will release monitoring results on the official website of the Ministry. In addition, they will also calculate and evaluate its impact to China through atmospheric circulation simulation software, and they will adopt timely and effective counter-measures.

Zheng Guoguang, director of China Meteorological Administration, revealed that the global meteorological organization set in the Administration and International Atomic Energy Agency Beijing Region Environment Emergency Response Center will produce and release forecast products periodically to advance the accuracy of the forecast service and to monitor the issue closely.

Sun Jun also said they would monitor the situation in areas potentially exposed to nuclear radiation closely 24 hours a day. They will initiate a nuclear emergency response forecast system, analyze the tendency of the radiation to spread and provide the most timely and accurate nuclear emergency response forecasting services to decision-makers and the public. Once something unusual has been found, we will publish it to public immediately.

No need to adopt special radiation protection measures yet

Chen Zhuzhou said statistics about radiation they get through monitoring at some places might be higher than usual if the radiation leak keeps getting worse, but it will not impact people's health.

Regarding the question about radiation protection measures, Su Xu, a researcher from Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said people would be advised to shut doors and windows and reduce outdoor activities to avoid breathing radioactive materials if they are downstream of the radiation wind direction.

People should wear masks if they have to go outside as well as wash hands and bathe frequently.

However, he also said, it is unnecessary to panic and adopt special prevention measures due at present. People are exposed to various kinds of radiation in daily life and are not harmed when the radiation level is under 100 millisieverts. And there is no need for people to take iodine plates, which might cause harm to bodies without the right direction due to iodine's characteristics.

No need to be nervous or evacuate

Those Chinese people evacuated from areas of Japan closest to the nuclear leak will be examined and cleaned from periphery pollution before they step on flights back to China. Radiation will not affect the health of Chinese who were staying in Tokyo and or Japanese cities farther way at the time of the disaster. Su Xu said so.

Experts also said Japan has controlled and isolated products from polluted areas, and therefore, import goods from Japan would not carry polluted materials. China will strengthen monitoring over products from accident-hit areas, and the public does not need to worry or adopt some special measures.

In addition, Su Xu also told reporters that passengers on a flight over Japan at the time do not need to worry about radiation because the flight cabin is an entirely sealed space. Air and nuclear materials cannot enter it to harm passengers' health.

Xinhua contributed to the story

By Wang Hanlu, People's Daily Online

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