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Govt: No 'immediate' threat from Japan nuke meltdown


(Updated 7:58 p.m.) The possible meltdown of two nuclear reactors in Japan poses no "immediate" threat to the Philippines, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said Sunday. "At present, I'd like to assure our public that there is no immediate threat for the Republic of the Philippines," NDRRMC executive director Benito Ramos said at a press briefing in Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. He added that the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) are monitoring the situation in northeastern Japan where nuclear plants were damaged by an 8.9 magnitude temblor that was followed by a tsunami with 33-foot waves Friday. Japan is currently facing a radiation threat after the cooling system at a second reactor of the nuclear plant in Fukushima, 240 kilometers north of Tokyo, failed in what could be the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years. Thousands of residents near the nuclear plant were evacuated on Saturday following an explosion and leak from the facility’s No. 1 reactor.

Ramos likewise said that in case a "nuclear emergency" affects the country, the Philippines' National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (RAD Plan) will be put into place. The RAD Plan "establishes an organized emergency response capability for timely coordinated action of Philippine authorities for radiological incidents or emergencies," according to the NDRRMC chief. The DOST and the PNRI will issue regular updates on the situation in the Japanese nuclear plants, he added. Earlier in the day, President Benigno Aquino III ordered constant updates from the national security and science agencies on the potential effects of a possible meltdown in an earthquake-crippled nuclear facility in Japan. Deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said that while the Philippines is relatively far from Japan, the direction of the wind in the region will also determine if the radiation from the plant will affect the country. But DOST Secretary Mario Montejo said it was fortunate that the direction of the wind from Japan is eastwards and not towards the Philippines. He also said according to Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA), the water current is going towards the east of Japan. He likewise said the danger to the Philippines of a spillover of a nuclear meltdown in Japan is "very, very remote." He said the power plant's reactor has a containment structure. "Any problem on the reactor, any radioactive leak, will be contained inside. That's why we are are saying there is no immediate [threat]." Montejo said the PNRI, which is under the DOST, is monitoring the radioactive environment. "Before it's once a day. Now, we plan to increase it to four times a day so we can determine if there is really a problem." — VS/KBK, GMA News
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