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The nuclear crisis in Japan has people seriously concerned about their friends and loved ones overseas. It also has some worried about possible fallout here on the West Coast.
President Barack Obama spoke Thursday from the White House trying to reassure a worried nation. He declared "harmful levels" of radiation from the Japanese nuclear disaster are not expected to reach the U.S.
That was also the message here in the Bay Area as regional experts said we are not at risk of radiation contamination.
Residents near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have been evacuated since the plant was crippled by last week's deadly 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami, and models show that a radioactive plume from the plant could reach California on Friday. See New York Times animation. Japan is more than 5,000 miles away and radiation decreases by each mile, according to the experts.
Eric Stevenson, director of technical services for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, told Bay City News any risk to people on American soil is negligible. He said a a radiation detector in San Francisco has not reported elevated levels of radiation.
"It would have to be a major catastrophe for us to be significantly impacted," he said. "Most of these impacts will, unfortunately for the Japanese, be localized."
U.S. Customs is monitoring flights at LAX for radiation levels. According to the LA Times, "out of an abundance of caution" customs workers were using several types of radiation detection equipment to specifically monitor maritime and air traffic from Japan for possible contamination. International flights are routinely screened for levels of radiation but efforts have increased and the agency plans to “adjust its detection and response protocols ... as developments warrant," according to the Times.
The California Department of Public Health is advising residents not to take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure.
"It is not necessary given the current circumstances in Japan," department officials said in a statement.
The nuclear crisis has some looking for purchase a radiation detector of their own. Here's a NBC LA story on that.