As Japan races to avert multiple nuclear meltdowns, one expert warned Sunday that radiation could spread to the U.S.
Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, told Fox News' Chris Wallace Japan's nuclear crisis is unprecedented.
"One reactor has had half the core exposed already," he explained. "This is the one they're flooding with sea water in a desperate effort to prevent it from a complete meltdown. They lost control of a second reactor next to it, a partial meltdown, and there is actually a third reactor at a related site 20-kilometers away they have also lost control over. We have never had a situation like this before."
"The worst case scenario is that the fuel rods fuse together, the temperatures get so hot that they melt together in a radioactive molten mass that bursts through the containment mechmisms and is exposed to the outside. So they spew radioactivity in the ground, into the air, into the water. Some of the radioactivity could carry in the atmosphere to the West Coast of the United States."
"Really?" a surprised Wallace asked. "I mean, thousands of miles across the Pacific?"
"Oh, abosolutely. Chernobyl, which happened about 25 years ago, the radioactivity spread around the entire northern hemisphere. It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens," Cirincione replied.
While officials downplayed any immediate danger, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission deployed two experts to Japan, where the Fukushima plant, which was rocked by a large explosion earlier in the day in the aftermath of Japan's strongest-ever earthquake.
"At present there is no danger to California. However we are monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with our federal partners," Michael Sicilia, spokesman for California Department of Public Health, told AFP.
"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.
This video is from Fox's Fox News Sunday, broadcast March 13, 2011.
-- with AFP