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No health risks to B.C. residents from Japan nuclear crisis


Any radiation contamination leaked from Fukushima at this point is unlikely to affect Canada, officials say
Any radiation contamination leaked from Fukushima at this point is unlikely to affect Canada, officials say

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

March 17, 2011 — British Columbia's Ministry of Public Safety says Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis poses 'no health risk to British Columbians' at this time.

Crews test residents of Fukushima prefecture for radiation. Contamination detection would be a part of Canada's response in the event of a nuclear emergency
Crews test residents of Fukushima prefecture for radiation. Contamination detection would be a part of Canada's response in the event of a nuclear emergency

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Rich Coleman issued a statement Sunday amid concerns that radioactive contamination from Japan's failing Fukushima nuclear power plant could make its way to Canada.

Coleman reassured the public that the current radiological activity at Fukushima is not expected to pose any health risks to people in B.C. He added the Government of Canada is monitoring the situation closely.

“Emergency officials in British Columbia remain in constant contact with the federal government's operation centre, which includes officials with Health Canada.”

Health Canada has a Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan (FNEP) in place that outlines its plans to protect the public and environment in the event of a nuclear emergency on home soil or abroad.

The exact action taken would depend on the location and extent of the nuclear emergency, but could include evacuation, decontamination and treatment with potassium iodine, which helps prevent the body from absorbing radiation.

With information provided by the Government of Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Foreign Affairs Canada says there is no indication of radiation health risks for Canadians in Japan and other countries in Asia. Officials are warning Canadians to stay at least 80 km away from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that's spewing radiation. Buses have also been chartered for any Canadians looking to evacuate the area.

Could radioactive contamination make its way to Canada?

That's a complicated question, according to Chris Scott, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

“The incidents at the nuclear facility in Japan don't just involve a question of atmospheric transport; there are aspects of chemistry and other health considerations to take into account,” he says.

“Several federal agencies in Canada are working together on this response, and The Weather Network will pass along any information we receive from Canadian government authorities.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke in Surrey, B.C. on Tuesday, trying to ease fears of fallout in Canada. Harper stated that officials in Japan have assured him that there is no evidence the radiation leaks will pose a risk to Canada.

With files from The Canadian Press

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