Obama Calls For Safety Check On U.S. Nuclear Reactors

President Barack Obama is calling for a comprehensive safety review at the 104 nuclear reactors in the U.S. in the wake of the Japanese disaster.

The president is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to examine nuclear plants to ensure they can withstand earthquakes and other disasters.

The nation’s nuclear power plants have already undergone exhaustive study, Mr. Obama said today from the White House, and have been declared safe. Further, he added that nuclear power remains an important part of the future of the United States’ energy portfolio, along with wind, solar, natural gas and clean coal.

Still, Mr. Obama said, “When we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event, and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people.”

The United States yesterday authorized the first evacuations of Americans out of Japan as the nation works to recover from last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami and deal with the unfolding nuclear issues. The damage to the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant “poses a substantial risk to people who are nearby,” Mr. Obama said today, adding that the evacuation of citizens within a 50-mile radius of the plant was “based upon a careful scientific evaluation.”

Beyond the 50-mile radius, the risks do not currently call for an evacuation, Mr. Obama said, but he nevertheless authorized the voluntary departure of family members and dependents of U.S. officials working in northeastern Japan.

In televised remarks Thursday, The president said U.S. officials do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast of the continental U.S., Hawaii or Alaska. He repeated the statement for emphasis.

“In the midst of economic recovery and global upheaval, disasters like this remind us of the common humanity that we share,” he said today. “We see it in the responders who are risking their lives at Fukushima, [and] we show it through the help that has poured into Japan from 70 countries.”

Source: www.CBSNews.com

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