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Concern Grows After Explosions at Japanese Nuclear Power Plant

Concern Grows After Explosions at Japanese Nuclear Power Plant

Airdate: 03/14/2011

It's a nuclear nightmare and it's sparking real concern here in the United States.

Radioactive material has been released into the atmosphere after two massive explosions at a nuclear plant. 200,000 people have been evacuated.

It was an ominous scene at decontamination centers where technicians in protective suits screened civilians, including little children who may have been exposed to radiation.

Anderson Cooper, reporting 60 miles from the crippled power plant, had a moment of concern, saying, "We're about 100 kilometers to the north. Should I get out here?"

Japan is about 5,700 miles away from the California coast. A radioactive plume would take about a week to get to the West Coast of the United States, if the prevailing winds were heading in the right direction, and right now the winds are blowing toward the United States. 

So is a radioactive plume heading to our shores?

One blog headline reads: "Warning: Concern has been raised about a massive radioactive cloud escaping and covering the West Coast of U.S.A."

Advice blogs are popping up with titles like: "How to survive nuclear fallout from Japan's reactor meltdown."

One blogger even asked: "Should I take iodine now?"

Iodine pills can prevent radiation poisoning of the thyroid.

In fact, one company we found that supplies iodine has apparently run out, and posted a sign that read:

"Due to the overwhelming need for potassium iodide, we are temporarily shutting down. Please check back in 48 hours."

But how much danger are we really in? Nuclear experts say at the moment there is little danger that any significant radiation will reach our shores.

"Based on the design and the distance involved, it is very unlikely that there will be any impact," said Gregory B. Jaczko, Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
 

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