Government should be prepared to protect people in case of nuclear fallout

By Jason de Asis


SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 12, 2011-Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change urged the government to prepare people and closely to monitor public health impacts of Japan’s nuclear fallout even as government downplayed the possibility of radiation exposure in the Philippines, saying that to be prepared for such an incident is always much better; however, remote may be than be caught off-guard when it actually happens.


The Senator said that we cannot afford to be complacent notwithstanding the assurances issued by experts. There are food safety issues and the situation in Fukushima remains to be a serious concern. These are facts that we cannot dismiss.


She added that there is a need to exercise vigilance in preparing and providing for all possible contingencies from the government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH), the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).


PNRI reported that harmful levels of radiation from Japan will not reach the Philippines while the Norwegian Institute for Air Research study revealed that there is a possibility that radiation will reach the country if the Japan power plant melts down.


In the event that the radiation leak from Japan reaches the Philippines, the NDRRMC assured that it has in place the National Radiological Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan which the government will execute. 


“Let us start with informing the public on what this Plan entails.  A good plan is not enough. Effective execution and the ability of the public to respond accordingly are key to saving lives in times of disaster,” Legarda said, adding that we have yet to know and understand what the government’s preparedness plan entails.


“There is a need to ensure by the government that the public is educated about radiation and its possible health implications, which, in large doses, can cause cancer and, birth defects and miscarriage for pregnant women,” Legarda stressed.


Legarda said that the government cannot afford to let its guard down. The PNRI should continue to monitor radiation levels and establish trends in order that it would be in a position to inform the public well before the concentrations reach dangerous levels, adding that there is a need to closely monitor the 24 registered importers of 238 Japanese products importing from Japan.


Legarda said that her call is not overreaction, saying that preparation is the key to effective disaster prevention in the parlance of disaster risk reduction and management in case that the radiation dangerous level affect the country. (Jason de Asis)

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