DDM dispells rumors on radiation contamination in the VI

Tortola, BVI,March, 15 2011 (DDM) – The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is advising the public that the Virgin Islands (VI) are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity resulting from any radioactive releases occurring in Fukushima, Japan.

The Director of the DDM Ms. Sharleen DaBreo said, " We are aware of a text message that is being widely circulated within our communities advising that a nuclear blast occurred in Fukushima and as a result radioactive particles will be emitted into the atmosphere, which may cause burns, alopecia or even cancer and that these particles, as a result of being in the ozone layers, will spread around the world by rain.  The text is further advising persons not to go under the rain without covering."

On receiving information about the text message the DDM has consulted with Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health & Social Development, Dr. Irad Potter on the matter.  After the earthquake ten nuclear reactor units shut down automatically in three separate nuclear power plants namely Onagawa, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini.  Since the shut down, problems have been occurring with the cooling systems in two of these plants and reports of explosions at one plant took place and were believed to be due to hydrogen reactions.

Ms. DaBreo further said, "The DDM has been monitoring the situation in Japan since Friday when an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred accompanied by destructive tsunamis.  Since then, we have been in contact with our partners at the National Weather Service (NWS) and Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN) who have provided us with official statements issued by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the matter."  The Commission's statement indicates that they are closely monitoring the situation in Japan for radioactive releases with the intention of being able to predict their path.  The NRC further stated that given the thousands of miles between the US including its territories they are not expecting to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.

Dr. Potter also said, “Reports indicate that the Japanese government is making every effort to manage the situation with the resources available to them.  There is close contact between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to manage any immediate risks and potential health consequences of the event.”  Dr. Potter has been receiving official updates from the UK International Health Regulations National Focal Point (IHRNFP).

The DDM will continue to monitor the developments in Japan but is asking that in the event that persons have questions or are seeking information about the developments at the Japanese reactors that they contact the DDM or the Ministry of Health and Social Development for official information or visit the DDM website at www.bviddm.com and click on the NRC website at www.nrc.gov.

CDEMA Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Resilience Way, Lower Estate, St. Michael Tel: (246) 434-4880, Fax: (246) 271-3660
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