U.S. State Department Upgrades Travel Warning for Japan

The U.S. State Department updated its Travel Warning for Japan dated March 18 in response to new information about the malfunction at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and are now warning Americans within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the plant to evacuate the area or to take shelter indoors if safe evacuation is not practical. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy, and other technical experts in the U.S. government have reviewed the scientific and technical information they have collected from assets in country, as well as what the government of Japan has disseminated.

On March 21, 2011, consistent with NRC guidelines that apply to such a situation in the U.S., the U.S. government is making available potassium iodide (KI) as a precautionary measure for United States government personnel and dependents residing within Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata and Yamanashi. The KI should only be consumed after specific instruction from the U.S. government. While there is no indication that it will become advisable to take KI, out of an abundance of caution the U.S. government is making it available to its personnel and family members to be used only upon direction if a change in circumstances were to warrant. No one should take KI at this time. In the event of a radiological release, sheltering in place or departing the affected area remain the primary means of protection.

There are numerous factors, including weather, wind direction and speed, as well as the exact status of the reactor problem, that affect the risk of the possibility of lower-level radioactive materials reaching greater distances. Previous notification to U.S. citizens to leave areas within 50 miles of the reactors stands. In the event they cannot evacuate that area, they are advised to seek shelter and remain sheltered. For private U.S. citizens seeking information about KI, the State Department suggests contacting your doctor or employer. For the most updated information, visit www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_5378.html.


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