Fukushima Contamination in U.S. Waters Refuted by NRC

Claims that radiation from a wrecked Japanese nuclear plant is contaminating U.S. waters are “simply not correct,” Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane said on the disaster’s third anniversary.

Radioactive water hasn’t reached the coast and any Pacific Ocean samples with residue from the 2011 accident have levels at least 100 times lower than U.S. drinking-water standards, Macfarlane said today at a commission conference near NRC headquarters in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Maryland.

“It is imperative that we as regulators find and seek out that credible information,” she said.

While Macfarlane has previously ruled out contamination, the NRC continues to confront claims, often tied to Internet postings, that radiation from the March 2011 triple meltdown at Fukushima Dai-Ichi is at dangerously high levels in the water. Macfarlane also knocked down the claims in a blog post today.

“Here the Pacific’s vast volume has greatly dispersed any contamination before it can reach our West Coast,” she wrote. “Scientists have not seen any Fukushima contamination that raises a concern about the U.S. food supply, water supply or public health.”

The NRC, which oversees safety at U.S. nuclear plants, has directed the 100 operating units to make upgrades including the ability to manage power losses, in response to the Japan incident. Reactor owners including Exelon Corp. of Chicago and Southern Co. of Atlanta are implementing an industry-backed plan to make equipment such as back-up generators available to plants during an emergency.

The Government Accountability Office reported today that the NRC chairman should consider expediting actions to upgrade its automated system for collecting nuclear-plant data so that the system can remain operational during an accident. The report said the NRC is first implementing higher-priority upgrades for the units it oversees.

“We will meet our 2016 deadline” for putting in place the major rules to reduce safety hazards at nuclear plants, Macfarlane told reporters after her comments today.

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