Statement from the Press Secretary on the Ongoing U.S. Response to the Earthquakes and Tsunami in Japan
Our thoughts and our prayers remain with the people of Japan. The President has been kept fully briefed on developments and the response throughout the weekend. As directed by the President, we have offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed as America will stand with Japan as they recover and rebuild.
We have already been helping in a number of ways. USAID is coordinating the overall U.S. government efforts in support of the Japanese government’s response to the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami that hit Friday and are currently directing individuals to www.usaid.gov for information about response donations. The U.S. Ambassador declared an emergency which opened up an immediate funding of $100K from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. They set up a Response Management Team in DC and sent a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Tokyo, which includes people with nuclear expertise from the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services as well the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The NRC members are experts in boiling water nuclear reactors and are available to assist their Japanese counterparts. Two Urban Search and Rescue Teams (LA County and Fairfax County teams) which total 144 members plus 12 search and rescue canines and up to 45 metric tons of rescue equipment are also on the ground in Misawa, Japan and will begin searching at first light March 14. The Department of Defense has the USS Reagan on station off the coast of Japan and the USS Essex en route, and is currently using an air facility in Misawa as a forward operating base. The American Red Cross (ARC) International Services team is supporting the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) to assess the impact, determine response efforts, and assist the people of Japan.
Officials from the Department of Energy, NRC, and other agencies have maintained contact with Japanese officials and will provide whatever assistance the Japanese government requests as they work to stabilize their damaged nuclear reactors. United States citizens in Japan are encouraged to follow the protective measures recommended by the Japanese government. The NRC has announced (http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/news/2011/11-046.pdf) that these measures appear to be consistent with steps the United States would take. With regards to the United States, the NRC has released information stating that Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity. For instance, according to the NRC, the U.S. evacuation standard at 10 miles is roughly equivalent to the 20-kilometer distance recommended in Japan. The United States and Japan both have highly advanced capabilities for monitoring and predicting the path of any radioactive release. American citizens in Japan should continue to listen to the local authorities regarding evacuation notices and any other preparedness measures and should contact the State Department if they have any questions.
From the moment this earthquake struck our State Department and Embassy and Consulates in Japan have been working around the clock to assist and inform U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov with detailed information about their location and contact information, and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov.