Traces of Radiation to Reach US Friday

UN charts radiation plume
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2011 12:33 AM CDT
Updated Mar 17, 2011 5:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – A plume of radiation from stricken Japanese nuclear reactors is crossing the Pacific and will be detectable in southern California by tomorrow, according to a United Nations forecast. Experts stress that the radiation in the plume will be extremely diluted and will, at worst, have very minor health consequences for people in the US, the New York Times reports. Dispersed radiation from the Chernobyl disaster took 10 days to reach the West Coast.

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The forecast, based on patterns of Pacific winds, predicts that the plume will miss Hawaii but will be detectable in the Aleutian Islands, and later at a monitoring station in Sacramento. The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the radiation poses no danger to Americans. Asked if a meltdown of a reactor core would raise the risk of harmful radiation reaching the US, he said: "I don’t want to speculate on various scenarios. But based on the design and the distances involved, it is very unlikely that there would be any harmful impacts.” (Read more radiation stories.)

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