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Japan disaster: Radiation could reach U.S. shores, but danger currently limited.

A child evacuated from areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactors damaged in Friday's massive earthquake is checked for radiation exposure with other residents Sunday, March 13, 2011, in Koriyama city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. (Credit AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Following news that Japan now faces problems with three nuclear plants, including an explosion at one reactor on Saturday, the U.S. Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commision (NRC) and the state of California are closely monitoring Japanese efforts to contain radiation leaks.
With twelve hundred already killed by earthquake and tsunami, Japanese Prime Minister’s spokesman Noriyuki Shikata said said that all efforts are being made to avoid a nuclear meltdown.  He avoided responding to international criticism for building nuclear plants like Fukushima, one of the oldest in Japan, in such dangerous seismic regions.
U.S. experts have said that radiation could be blown out across the Pacific and reach U.S. shores.
However, the situation does not yet appear to be critically dangerous.
“At present there is no danger to California. However we are monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with our federal partners,”  a spokesman for California Department of Public Health told international news agencies.
“California does have radioactivity monitoring systems in place for air, water and the food supply and can enhance that monitoring if a danger exists,” he added.
Japanese authorities are trying to calm the population’s fears of a meltdown. The Japanese authorities affirmed that the explosion on Saturday had not ruptured the container surrounding the reactor, although there had been some radiation leakage prior to the blast.
In a press briefing, French experts suggested that, if there were a reactor meltdown or major leak at Fukushima, the radioactive cloud would likely be blown out east across the Pacific toward the US West Coast. “The wind direction for the time being seems to point the (nuclear) pollution towards the Pacific,” said Andre-Claude Lacoste of the French Nuclear Safety Authority.
In the U.S., the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) sent two experts to Japan, to assist the Japanese in cooling the reactors. Both are experts in boiling water nuclear reactors and are part of a broader US aid team sent to the disaster zone. The NRC is examining all available information as part of the effort to analyze the event and understand its implications both for Japan and the United States.
Japan is roughly 5,000 miles from the US West Coast.