Ambassador Roos Provides Update on Response to Japanese Earthquakes, Tsunami

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 14, 2011
Ambassador Roos Addresses the Press in Tokyo

More:Information on Japan's Earthquake and Tsunamis | How You Can Help | Travel-Related and Contact Information | For concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in Japan, email JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos briefed the press on the ongoing response to the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami on March 14, 2011. Ambassador Roos started the press conference by expressing his condolences to the victims of the current catastrophes and noted that the U.S. flag is at half mast to pay tribute to the Japanese people.

Ambassador Roos said, "I just want to take a moment before we get started with the U.S. brief to commend the government of Japan and the Japanese people. Japan is one of the most well-prepared and capable countries in the world to manage a response to a disaster such as we have seen. You heard Prime Minister Kan talk about the fact that this is the biggest disaster and challenge that Japan has faced since World War II and I think Japan, I know Japan, the country, is up to the task. The country has proven over and over again with respect to other countries around the world who have needed their help, that this is a people that step up in a time of need. And I also want to tell you that I am glad to see, because I think it's important that not only the United States, but many of Japan's other friends stepping up to help Japan when it is so desperately in need.

"I just want to commend, once again, the Government of Japan and the Japanese people for their resilience during this extremely challenging time. We''e seen on television, in the streets, the people of Japan remaining calm and pitching in to help one another and that has just been during the period when so much has happened during the last 72 hours.

"So with that, let me turn to the U.S. effort. I think it goes without saying that the United States of America is one of Japan's closest friends. This is a time when our country needs to step up for the country of Japan. We wanted to begin these briefings so that we can go through some of the latest facts on the ground as we know them. I'm going to make a few comments with regards to some of the U.S. efforts going on, but I have with me here today General Field who is the Commander of U.S. Forces Japan, and I've asked him to speak to some of the military efforts, humanitarian and disaster relief efforts that are going on, because they are so critical to the overall U.S. efforts.

"First of all, because I know it's on everyone's mind, let me just comment on the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant issue.

"We would like to reiterate that U.S. experts have been in close consultation with Japanese experts regarding the evolving situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

"Our experts have included senior representatives of the White House, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the President's Chief Senior Science Advisor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and I think it's important to say that the NRC members who are on the ground here include experts in boiling water nuclear reactors and they have come to Japan to make themselves available to assist their Japanese counterparts.

"Our position that was set forth yesterday has not changed: we are encouraging U.S. citizens to heed the instructions of the Japanese civil defense authorities.

"Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency has recommended that people who live within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area immediately. No other evacuations have been recommended.

"Now, as the Government of Japan announced earlier today, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the 3rd reactor at Fukushima. I wish I had more information for you, but all I can tell you right now is that we are currently in consultations with Japanese officials about the situation, as well as reviewing the situation with our own experts. We are confident that the government of Japan is doing all it can to respond to this serious situation.

"Again, I just want to re-emphasize we are available to assist Japan in its efforts responding to this current development and we will of course provide further updates.

"Let me now turn to consular information. As you know, American citizens are our highest priority. Let me just give you a couple of facts. Number one: we are not aware of any confirmed reports of American deaths in Japan. I have been informed that there are also no serious injuries that we are aware of at this time.

"Now the State Department has received numerous inquiries on the welfare and whereabouts of specific U.S. citizens in Japan. And the Embassy and the State Department are working around the clock. We have our consular services available 24 hours a day to determine the whereabouts and well-being of all U.S. citizens in Japan.

"The best information that we have right now is that there are approximately 1,300 American citizens in the Japanese prefectures that were most affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.

"U.S. citizens in need of emergency consular assistance should send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov and please include detailed information about their location and contact information.

"Now, you probably all know, but I should repeat that there are numerous other websites with information and updates as we develop them and those are made available. Karen Kelley, our press officer here, can give you copies of those websites after this press conference. I should also say that I am trying to tweet current developments as they become available.

"In addition, Prime Minister Kan's office has established an English-language website that users may access for the latest quake-related information. (www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/index-e.html)

"Let me comment briefly on the USAID assistance that the United States is providing. USAID response includes the USAID Disaster Assistance and Response Team which is now on the ground in Japan and is working to coordinate overall U.S. government response efforts along with the U.S. Embassy. The USAID/DART team includes four experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They are advising USAID/DART on nuclear issues, including the ones I previously made reference to, and are again consulting with their Japanese counterparts.

"Urban Search and Rescue teams from Fairfax County and Los Angeles County are on the ground in Misawa, Japan and will begin search-and-rescue operations today. Comprised of 144 personnel with emergency medical skills, engineering, and water search capabilities, they are clearly going to be important in the disaster relief efforts. They also, by the way, include 12 canines trained to detect live victims.

"The Government of Japan, and I should emphasize this, is directing the search and rescue teams to conduct operations along with Japanese firefighting units in the areas that are hardest hit by the tsunami.

"Now, as you know, a major, major effort is underway by the United States military and earlier today General Field had the opportunity to visit some of the disaster areas. So I thought in this briefing today it would be helpful for General Field to provide an overall view not only of his thoughts with regard to today, but the military effort."

You can read Ambassador Roos' complete remarkshere.

Comments

Comments

DrG
|
West Virginia, USA
March 14, 2011

Dr. G. in West Virginia writes:

Very thorough summary

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 14, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I'm wondering if it's possible in a last ditch effort to prevent a triple nuclear meltdown that would create an environmental catastrophe on land, whether it would be possible to decouple the reactor cores and use heavy lift helicopters to transport them out to sea and dump them in deep water before they go critical and burn through the steel casing.

Nothing else seems to be working.

MM
|
Slovenia
March 14, 2011

M.M. in Slovenia writes:

Do you think that intelligent people don t realize that you (USA) caused this earthquake in Japan??? We know you are guilty. You and your HAARP.

John P.
|
Greece
March 14, 2011

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico
And I'm wondering (LOL) if it's possible to leave it up to the scientists..

who know better than us!

If you want my opinion, NO!
We cannot do it this way, by using copters, or helicopters.
The core is burning and we cannot ask for a "10 minutes guarantee" Pizza delivery.

I'd trust the scientific community at this point.

We will stay alive! You'll see!

mujeeb s.
|
New Zealand
March 14, 2011

Mujeeb S. in New Zealand writes:

My sympathy and condolences to the people of Japan.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 14, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(after third blast reported - 1,3, and latest affecting #2 reactor building)

0052: Details are now emberging about radiation levels after the blast at Fukushima's reactor 2 at 0610 local time (2110 GMT Monday). Tokyo Electric officials say that one hour of exposure at the nuclear plant would be equivalent to eight times at what a person might experience naturally during the year.
-BBC live feed

==

That's enough to give someone one heck of a sunburn.

I think folks need to start getting honest with the public in that this is only going to get worse as there's a triple meltdown happening right now and it looks like they've lost complete control over their nuclear facility.

There comes a point with increasing radiation where anyone working there to try and do something to prevent one or more massive core breaches will take a lethal dose within an 8 hour shift, even in a moon suit.

I remember the ultimate sacrifice made by individuals to contain the pile at Chernobyl and encase it in concrete. It's looking like it will take a similar commitment to put these to bed.

The world needs a miracle every day, but it doesn't look forthcoming this week.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 15, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

John,

The core's are probably to heavy to lift even with two sky-hooks ( the kind of copter that can lift and deliver an MIAI ABRAMS battle tank) But I had to ask.

And you might be right considering I just heard that the #2 reactor has been breached by the latest explosion, thus the high rad count.

Whether the cores are just partially melted or are "burning" they are inaccesable at this point anyway except maybe by robotic means.

I suppose we could leave this to scientists and pray they know what the hell they are doing, but I'm not exactly clueless given my granddad not only helped build the first A-bombs but also holds one of the first Metalurgical group patents for reactor cooling design the US patent office ever issued to his group at Los Alamos during WW2.

Remember, scientists assured the public that this couldn't happen with all the redundancy of design built in. So you want to trust them now?

They may know better than us but are apparently clueless as to how to solve this, or have flat run out of scientific options.

That much you can trust to be self evident.

Now folks need all the creative ideas possible to resolve this, and you have a problem with my submitting one, workable or not?

That's for someone with far more authority than either you or I have anyway to decide if it is or not.

But yeah, once it was able to be hoisted aloft, it would be about a "10 minute pizza delivery" flight to dump it in deep enough water to cool it and isolate it from the population.

The facility is right next to the ocean.

Assuming the control rods stop the fission process and are in place, there will be a point where the cores will become cool enough to retrieve and encase permanently in concrete from the ocean floor using robotic means.

If we can plug BP's screw-up, we can do this.

But unfortunately circumstance has made it all but impossible.

So here you have about a hundred tonnes of spent MOX fuel in a cooling pond right next to 3 reactors going critical and out of control, 2 of which are plutonium MOX fed reactors, and a third (# 4) that may or not be compromised and folks ( those scientific experts) are saying this won't be as bad as Chernobyl in a worst case scenario?

Have I ever lied to you John?

If I was to tell you that this situation is far worse given the millions in Tokyo and surrounding areas, would you believe a simple house painter's assesment?

There's a lot to be considered in this.

They've tried bringing the ocean to the cores and that hasn't worked, and maybe its just a matter of cutting a channel with explosives and dragging them out to sea with tugs and cables, and pray they hold together long enough.

The worst case scenario being if they don't get cooled and explode, a good portion of Japan may be rendered uninhabitable.

If I were going to do some wishful thinking, then I'd say perhaps that big aftershock and tsunami folks are expecting by Thursaday will open a crack in the earth right under that plant, swallow it whole, and the sea rushes in to allow mother nature to resolve the dire human conundrum folks are facing.

But don't count on my wishes coming true, I'm fresh out of miracles today.

take care,

EJ

John P.
|
Greece
March 15, 2011

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

Unfortunately, once again you were right. For more than 3 years you were posting your worries concerning nuclear energy.

Moreover, this thriller in Japan raises a vital issue about something else you have also predicted all these years:

What will happen if we face a similar situation in Iran, or South Korea?

If we are not able to control the situation in a democratic country like Japan, which receives all the available international scientific help and collaboration, we are certainly fully unprotected in a future nuclear accident in Iran and South Korea, where their regimes will act egoistically in case of emergency and of course without offering any flow of information toward the rest of the world.

If the Japanese case is a thriller, then, Iran and Korea are a nuclear nightmare!

After the situation in Japan is set up, I think that the international community should ASAP begin a discussion about the new parameters we have to face. And this time we must be even more serious and strict when we deal with regimes that are not willing to collaborate with the international society and rules.

third59
March 15, 2011

W.W. writes:

@whitehouse Winning the future : earth must be protected otherwise consequence like in japan "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3ujh-7VCcs&feature=related"

trial66
March 15, 2011

W.W. writes:

Turn Nuclear reactors off follow berlin choice till is over The palnet is truly risking and facing an imminent massive nuclear disaster...

color56
March 15, 2011
Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 15, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

John,

Just to clarify, I'm not against nuclear power as as form of energy production, I just think there's a better, more sensible way to go about it.

Why on earth it was approved that spent fuel was to be stored in cooling ponds in the reactor buildings at this plant is beyond all logic. The only reason is that it seemed convinient at the time to folks, now it poses ( as #4 reactor caught fire while off-line and it was the spent MOX fuel burning and spewing radiation, along with #1, #2, #3, reactor out-gassing -intentional or not) will be the subject of much criticism and represents an inherant safety design flaw.

On another note, since you mentioned North Korea, it seems "lil Kim is ready to "talk nuclear" and negotiate. Probably thinking that with this crisis and all the fear generated that he stands a chance of pushing that fear at the negotiating table just a little bit further...big mistake on his part if so, because it will definately anger everyone else if he tries such a tactic.

What happened in Japan could just as well happen to them, or the US for that matter.

LA is expecting "the big one" with a 90% probability in the next 30 years, ans the Pacific northwest off Washington State could see an 8.0 or greater quake anytime now.

Just add Tsunami to that...

I don't buy the head of the US atomic regulatory commission's statements at the Whitehouse briefing yesterday. Platitudes are no substitute for a thoughtful review of everything we've built to date, and a decision as to whether to continue to opperate aging atomic plants in harm's way.

It should give the Gulf natiuons and Russia pause for thought about starting up Bushir, regardless of Iran's wishes in the matter, 300 million have to live with the decision.

These are topics that go beyond the antagonistic political parameters that hold sway on the debate today regarding rogue regimes.

It becomes a matter of preventive action to protect populations, not a denial of sovwereign rights to the peaceful use of atomic power.

President Obama is a sensible man, subject to reason and with the ability to adapt his policy as best for this nation and the greater good of humanity. I have confidence in that, and he's earned my trust in this regard.

What he chooses to do in light of these events will not be some knee-jerk reaction out of fear of the unknown, but because it makes sense to take a fresh look at atomic power and nuclear waste management in this nation.

So If he wants a robust manned space program, I suggest he initiate a study on how to get what we can't use out of our backyards and off this planet.

And offer a global solution to atomic waste, create a few jobs and put the world in debt to us for a change paying for it.

It's one sure way to erase any national debt.

If he told world leaders "this is what we are prepared to do for you to safeguard your populations, on a permanent ongoing basis, but we insist on debt forgiveness in advance to develop and pay for the program with the reliable delivery systems we must adapt to get the job done."

Then humanity has a working plan to safeguard its future using atomic energy in a swustainable envioronmentally sound manner.

All the king's horses and all the king's men arn't going to be putting Fukushima on'line again, that's for certain.

I hate being right most of the time John, you know this...

The question now is what will we learn from this as we proceed to deal with it?

Best,

EJ

sam
|
New York, USA
March 16, 2011

Sam in New York writes:

@ John, You mean North Korea don't you? You sounded like you knew what you were talking about there for a moment.

John P.
|
Greece
March 16, 2011

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Sam in New York

Of course I mean North Korea and thank you very much for the correction.

Sorry guys, "writer's ERROR"!

Best regards and thank you Sam.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
March 17, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John,

With all my typos, I'd hardly be one to call you on your's. It was easy enough to assume by context which Korea you meant.

If you have a spare hour or so to delve into the context of our conversation, I think you're going to be flat amazed at what you hear in this hearing.

I know I was.

"http://www.c-span.org/Events/Congress-looks-at-Nuclear-Safety-and-Crisis..."

I should modify my statement a bit, I hate it when I'm right most of the time, but humbled when it seems to make a difference to folks.

Now I don't know what to make of the reach Dipnote has, and often wonder who reads these things, or who may have considered the assesment I just posted here in discussing this with you, but I think we make a pretty good team John, for shaking stuff up.

And if we have with this, then I'd say that's the miracle of my week bro...

I guess you'll just have to check out the hearing and decide for yourself if the Senators read Dipnote or not.

It's uncanny...I feel like I'm being quoted for some strange unknowable reason.

Or I'm just loosing my mind...

Waiter,...reality check please?! I've had more than my fill.

Think I want to know is why they put the reactors on site so damned close together that the explosions damaged the one's next to them and they went off like a string of firecrackers.

I'll accept that the earthquake and tsunami were the inflection point of instigation for this disaster, but it flat didn't have to happen has some common sense been designed into the facility, let alone the Mark-1 reactor that houses spent fuel within the containment building being a real bad, bad idea right off the architect's drawing board.

This doesn't exactly take a nuclear physisist to figure out. The whole world is witness.

I'm glad that the head of the NRC is going to do that review I suggested would be better than platitudes, but frankly he may have to wait a thousand years before he can get close enough to Fukushima to get a detailed analysis of everything that went wrong with all the reactors during and after the initial earthquake.

So he should probably start with the basics and don't keep folks waiting years for a report on this.

Fact is he's probably as certain as everyone else is in this country that not a single nuclear plant built here was designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake.

And neither were the back up systems.

Nor the back up for the back ups that were put in place after 9/11.

And that's the hard reality of it.

This is what happens when you design things on the cheap.

EJ

.

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