DOH: Radiation in the Philippines Text is Fake
Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo said the public should not believe in rumors that the alleged nuclear meltdown at “Fukuyama”, or some other place in Japan, threatens to affect other places, the DOST website posted Monday.
Text messages are circulating since early Monday morning warning people in Asian countries including the Philippines to take necessary precautions against possible effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant leak.
The text message as follows:
“CNN/BBC News: Japan government confirms radiation leak at Fukushima nuclear plant.
Asian countries should take precautionary measures. Remain indoors first 24 hours. Close doors and windows.
Swab neck skin with betadine where thyroid area is, bc radiation hits thyroid first.
Radiation may hit the Philippines starting 4pm today [March 14].”
Update From CNN:
Workers have been injecting seawater in a last-ditch effort to cool down fuel rods and prevent a full meltdown at two other reactors at the plant — No. 1 and No. 3 — after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami Friday knocked out the reactors’ cooling systems.
Japanese officials have said that they are operating under the presumption that there may be a partial meltdown in the No. 3 and No. 1 nuclear reactors. Authorities have not yet been able to confirm a meltdown, because it is too hot inside the affected reactors to check.
There are six reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, located in northeastern Japan about 65 km (40 miles) south of Sendai.
A buildup of hydrogen in the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s No. 3 reactor building caused Monday’s blast, authorities said, which injured 11 people and sent white smoke billowing above the nuclear plant.
But the explosion did not damage the reactor or result in significant radiation leakage, Edano told reporters.
The explosion blew away the roof and walls of the building housing the reactor, Japan’s Kyodo News reported. A similar blast occurred Saturday at the plant’s No. 1 reactor.
On Sunday, Edano warned that the same sort of explosion could occur in the No. 3 building.
After Monday’s blast, authorities ordered at least 500 residents remaining within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the plant to stay inside, Edano said. About 200,000 people evacuated the area over the weekend after a government order.
“There is no massive radioactive leakage,” Edano said.
Even so, public concern over the possibility remained rampant Monday — even outside the evacuation zone.
“Everyone is talking about it. There seems to be a real fear about this, an anxiety about it,” said CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, reporting from a school serving as an evacuation center about 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
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Low levels of radiation were detected at least as far as 100 miles northeast of the plant, according to the U.S. Navy, which repositioned ships and planes after detecting low-level “airborne radioactivity.”
The Navy’s statement, however, provided some perspective, noting that the maximum potential radiation dose received by any ship personnel when it passed through the area was “less than the radiation exposure received from about one month of exposure to natural background radiation from sources such as rocks, soil, and the sun.”
The Tokyo Electric Power Company said in a statement late Sunday that radiation levels outside that plant remained high.
Kyodo, citing the same company, said that there were measurements of 751 microsieverts and 650 microsieverts of radiation early Monday. Both are above the legal limit, albeit less than one reading recorded Sunday.
A microsievert is an internationally recognized unit measuring radiation dosage, with people typically exposed during an entire year to a total of about 1,000 microsieverts.
Authorities early Sunday noted high radiation levels at another plant, located 135 kilometers (85 miles) away in Onagawa. The International Atomic Energy Agency later said that Japanese officials reported that levels had returned to “normal.” It also said the increase detected earlier “may have been due to a release of radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.”
Most experts aren’t expecting a reprise of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown, which killed 32 plant workers and firefighters in the former Soviet Union and at least 4,000 others from cancers tied to radioactive material released by the plant.
Analysts said Japan’s crisis is unique.
“This is unprecedented,” said Stephanie Cooke, the author of “In Mortal Hands: A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age.” “You’ve never had a situation with multiple reactors at risk.”
Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors provide about 30% of the country’s electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public on Monday that the radiation leak from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan poses no immediate threat to the Philippines.
DOH Undersecretary Mario Villaverde debunked rumors that radiation from the nuclear plant that exploded in Japan after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake rocked that country on March 11, will affect the Philippines.
The Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) also assured that there has been no increase in radiation levels in the country.
Japanese authorities are working to prevent a meltdown of its nuclear plant in Fukushima, after its cooling systems failed.
“There is no need for any undue alarm for the public on this issue,” Villaverde said.
He added that even in Japan, the leak is not a huge public health and safety threat except in the immediate vicinity of the plant.
Villaverde cited rumors circulating via text message that radiation leak will reach the country at 4 p.m. on Monday and that people exposed to it will experience burns on their skin.
A dzBB report on Monday said students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) were sent home by school authorities because of the radiation threat.
In a statement issued on Monday, PUP President Dante Guevarra said “classes in all PUP campuses in Luzon and Metro Manila are suspended in order to appease the anxiety of hundreds of parents who were calling and asking for their children who are studying in the said university.”
“The president made it very clear that the decision to suspend the classes has nothing to do with the public panic and scare on BBC advisory on the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant explosion, but a simple attention and concern to the welfare of the 65,000 students and reduce anxiety of their parents and relatives,” the statement said.
Guevarra also said the action was meant to eliminate any fear and stress as the university is situated very near the Pandacan Oil Depot which sometimes emits toxic gases.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), appealed to those spreading the text message to refrain from doing so and not treat the situation as a joke.
“We are appealing not to make jokes especially at this time because all our fellowmen will be affected…This is a serious matter,” said NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos, who is the concurrent administrator of the Office of Civil Defense.
Worst case scenario
Even though there is very little radiation threat in the Philippines, the DOH said it is still preparing for the worst case scenario.
The DOH is prepared to give a prophylactic dose of potassium iodide if there will be radiation exposure in the Philippines.
When the exposure to radiation is not direct, Villaverde said an ordinary bath will also wash away exposure to radiation.
The health department has also prepared a national radiological preparedness and response plan if there will be a direct threat to the Philippines in the future.
Villaverde said the only chance that radiation will reach the Philippines is if wind from Japan blows to the country.
However, The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) assured that winds from Japan are not headed toward the country and in fact, winds from the Philippines appear to be moving toward Japan.
No threat of acid rain
Meanwhile, earlier on Monday, PAGASA also denied rumors circulating via text messages that there will be “acid rain” in the Philippines supposedly because of radioactive clouds from quake- and tsunami-stricken Japan.
PAGASA said there was no basis for such claims.
Also on Monday, DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said Monday a “Chernobyl scenario” of radiation clouds from a failed nuclear power plant in quake- and tsunami-devastated Japan may subside in a few days’ time.
Montejo said while they are not discounting a leakage from the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the threat is small and there is “very little” threat to the Philippines.
Eliminating the radiation leaks
In Japan, authorities are currently implementing “containment procedures” to eliminate radiation leaks.
Residents have also been evacuated from a 12-mile radius. Hundreds have been screened for radiation exposure and so far no record of any illnesses was reported.
Tips on coping with radiation emergencies
The four main points of an 11-year-old response plan drawn up by the government for a radiation-related emergency are:
(1) Do not panic.
(2) Protect yourself from radiation exposure.
(3) Stay indoors and close windows.
(4) Watch out for emergency information from TV and radio.
The National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (RADPlan) was approved and signed on Nov. 24, 2000, according to a primer posted on the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute.
While the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said Sunday there is no immediate emergency yet from the nuclear plant meltdown threat in Japan, it will implement the RADPlan once there is a threat.
“In the event the Philippines will be affected, the NDRRMC will put into action the existing National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (RADPLAN) that covers nuclear emergencies such as this,” the NDRRMC said in a news release on its website on Sunday.
“The RADPLAN establishes an organized emergency response capability for timely, coordinated action of Philippine authorities in a peacetime radiological incident or emergency. Participating agencies such as the PNRI and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) are given authority and responsibilities for coordinating activities of other agencies involved,” the NDRRMC added.
Under the plan, the OCD will coordinate all non-nuclear response activities, while the PNRI will coordinate all nuclear response activities.
The PNRI lists different types of radiological emergencies:
# Emergencies from fixed nuclear or radiation facilities
# Emergencies occurring in the transport or loss of radioactive materials
# Emergencies from foreign sources having environmental or health impact on Philippine territories, including the possible entry of contaminated food, scrap metals and other materials
# Emergencies from nuclear-powered ships
# Emergencies from re-entry of satellites with nuclear materials as components
Levels of emergencies
There are three levels of radiological emergencies:
# Level 1: Alert: A radiation-related accident has occurred in a nuclear-related facility but the event has not directly affected the Philippines and the population in particular
# Level 2: Site Area Emergency: A radiation-related emergency occurred and has been confirmed to affect a specifically defined area in the Philippines, or area within the site boundaries of a nuclear radiation facility
# Level 3: General Emergency: The radiological emergency has been confirmed to affect wide areas outside the boundaries of the affected facility, or its effect has already been felt. Actual or projected radiation doses are beyond the prescribed limits for members of the public.
In a national radiological emergency, 12 government departments, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; the Offices of the President and Press Secretary; and Philippine Red Cross will be involved as members of the National Radiological Emergency Response Organization. — VVP, GMA News