State: 'No health risk' to Ore. from Japan

Gail Shibley: Oregon is not at risk from Japan reactor radiation. March 16, 2011.



Posted on March 17, 2011 at 10:40 AM

PORTLAND -- Oregon is not at risk from radiation released at a damaged nuclear plant in Japan.

That was the message from a panel of officials who held a Wednesday morning press conference to address concerns about potential radiation fallout in the Northwest from the ongoing crisis caused by Japan's 9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

"We have not seen any increase in any radioactive isotope of any type since the events in Japan. Based on that real live data, there is no health risk to the people in Oregon," said Gail Shibley, a public health administrator for the state of Oregon. 

Health and emergency management officials held the news conference to reassure the public in Oregon that they were closely monitoring developments in Japan and were prepared to respond if they find any risk.

Raw video: Radiation news conference

But they said they do not expect to see any harmful levels of radioactivity in Oregon as a result of serious damage to the Japan nuclear plant by last week's massive earthquake that triggered a tsunami.

Oregon public health officials say they monitor information from the Environmental Protection Agency's network of highly sensitive radiation detectors, which provide hourly reports. There are two monitors in Oregon, one in Corvallis and one in Portland.

More: Health and radiation informational video releasd by state

In Oregon and across the country, pharmacies have reported a surge in requests for iodine tablets from people concerned about the potential for harmful radiation reaching the U.S. Health experts locally and nationally have said that taking iodine is unnecessary, and has potentially harmful side effects. More: Health officials warn of iodine risks

Meantime, Federal environmental regulators said they were adding more radiation monitors in the western United States and Pacific territories as concerns rise over exposure from damaged nuclear plants in Japan.

The Environmental Protection Agency already monitors radiation throughout the area as part of its RadNet system, which measures levels in air, drinking water, milk and rain.

The additional monitors are in response to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan, where emergency workers are attempting to cool overheated reactors damaged by last week's magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami.

Officials with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission say they do not expect harmful radiation levels to reach the U.S. from Japan.

The EPA says data from the monitors are available on its website for coastal states, Hawaii, Guam and American Samoa.