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Radiation From Japan Makes Its Way To Maryland

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Some radiation from Japan has already made its way to the United States. State health officials confirm they’ve detected small levels of radiation right here in Maryland.

Derek Valcourt explains how much radiation there is and where it’s been found.

Minuscule amounts of radiation have been detected in the air and even in the recent rains, but officials say the levels are so small, there’s no need to worry.

It was 32 years ago Monday when the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania suffered a partial core meltdown and public confidence in nuclear power was first shaken.  While a small group held a vigil to mark the anniversary, they’re also expressing concerns over the troubles at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, where leading radiation has now traveled through the atmosphere all the way to Maryland.  In fact, routine air sampling near Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant detected small amounts of radiation Friday.

“We are talking about exceeding small amounts of radioactivity and not something that should cause any kind of concern,” said Maryland Health Secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein.

Sharfstein confirms that tests of a rainwater sample in Baltimore on Monday detected a very small amount of a radioactive form of iodine called iodine 131, similar to the levels already found in neighboring Pennsylvania and further north in Massachusetts.

The EPA says those rainwater radiation levels are “about 25 times below the level that would be of concern…even for the most vulnerable infants and pregnant women.”

“We were not able — even with the most sensitive of equipment — to detect any radioactive material in any of the public water systems or in milk,” Sharfstein said.

He says any rainwater entering the reservoirs or rivers gets diluted and then goes through a filtering process through the ground or at a treatment plant before it comes to a faucet.  But in an abundance of caution, Maryland will now increase its radiation testing.

“This just allows us to be on top of it and prove information to the public if anything were to change,” Sharfstein said.

He says the state will now conduct radiation testing at least once a week.

Health officials here say our water and food supplies are safe.

More from Derek Valcourt
  • Liz

    This is pretty scary stuff, and we’re not getting the whole story, probably because nobody knows what the whole story is. Those in charge don’t even know how to proceed. We have all of this tecnology, but it seems like there isn’t really a backup plan, or a plan B, when all hell breaks loose. The most frightening part is that the experts don’t even agree on how to deal with this. The potential for a global disaster looms on the horizon, and none of us know how to fix it.

  • Deborah

    Dr. Sharfstein:
    Your quote is an example of the strange double-talk that the Japanese government has been feeding their people. How can both clauses of your quote be true: “We are talking about exceeding small amounts of radioactivity and not something that should cause any kind of concern” ? The limits set for radioactivity in the air and water were set to avoid health risks to the general population. Now you indicate that the limits have been exceeded, but that it should not cause any concern. So are you more knowledgeable about the effects of small amounts of radiation than the NRC who helped establsih the current limits? In the future please be clear with your comments, report the facts (numbers versus recommended limits) and ouline the plan for when we in the general public should take some sort of action.

  • Zaidi

    Yes. Whatever you say.

  • Zeph

    Only fools trust the govt and their bought-off stooge Sharfstein. Big money, NOT public health, are their prime concerns. Make no mistake.

  • Scott's County

    Not to worry, everyone. Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program that the Japanese nuclear plant “did exactly what it was supposed to do.”

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