White House Says US Citizens in Japan Should Listen to US, Not Japan, on Evacuation, but Refuses to Judge

Mar 16, 2011 3:16pm

Armed with new independent data, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee Wednesday recommended that all American citizens evacuate the 50 mile radius surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactors.

NRC Chairman Jaczko told President Obama earlier today, and just now told the House Energy and Commerce Committee, that “the NRC made a recommendation that based on the available information that we have, that for a comparable situation in the United States we would recommend an evacuation to a much larger radius than has currently been provided in Japan. As a result of this recommendation, the Ambassador in Japan has issued a statement to American citizens that we believe it is appropriate to evacuate to a larger distance, up to approximately 50 miles.”

The recommendation – approximately 80 km – is 4 times larger than the recommended evacuation radius given by the government of Japan, but the White House downplayed the significance of seemingly more dire view of the conditions on the ground.

White House press secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that “the advice is no longer in agreement,” but refused to make any judgment on the information and recommendations being made by the government of Japan, a close US ally.

Carney told reporters that while initially the U.S. agreed with the Japanese government’s 20 km recommendation, today, “based on our independent analysis of the deteriorating situation — we all have watched on television and read about the damage at the various reactors and the potential for emissions — based on that new information, the new data and the independent analysis, the NRC is now advising an evacuation beyond a 50-mile radius.”

When a reporter stated that the US recommendation suggests that the information coming from the Japanese government is inadequate, Carney said only that it suggests the advice the Japanese government is giving is “different.”

“It is not about the quality of information; it is about the standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in the United States and the kind of advice it would be giving should this incident happen in the United States, or something similar to it,” Carney said.

Does the US have higher standards?

“It's not about high or low,” Carney said. “I'm just simply saying that this is our advice based on the information that we have.”

-Jake Tapper

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