Information for Australians in Japan 18 March 2011

18 Mar 2011 1:59 AM | Anonymous
The following travel advisory has been reviewed and reissued.

JAPAN :    The overall level of the advice has increased to "High degree of
caution".  It contains new information in the Summary and under Earthquake
and Tsunami of 11 March (Australians should not travel to Tokyo and
northern Honshu unless their presence in Japan is essential. Australians in
these areas should leave unless their presence in Japan is essential). It
also contains latest advice from the Australian Radiation Protection and
Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) on exposure to radiation arising from
nuclear incidents in Japan. It contains a link to the ARPANSA website. The
level of the advice for northern Honshu (including Tokyo and surrounding
districts) has been increased to “Do not travel”. The overall level of the
advice for Japan has increased to “Exercise a high degree of caution”.

For a full text of the revised advisory, please refer to:

The following information has been copied from the ARPANSA website

Advice on exposure to radiation arising from nuclear incidents in Japan - 18 March 2011: TIME: 0300

Exclusion Zone extended for Australians in Japan: ARPANSA and the Department of Health and Ageing has been continually assessing the nuclear situation in Japan and has recommended, as a precautionary measure, that Australians within an 80 km zone from the Fukushima nuclear power plant to move out of the area.

This is a precautionary measure only as the situation in Japan is unstable.

Over night the US made a similar recommendation in accordance with the standard guidelines of their Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Their guidelines would require a zone of 80 km (50 miles) around the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The Department of Health and Ageing and ARPANSA believe this is prudent advice as a precautionary measure.

While information on radiation levels and wind direction appear unchanged the situation at the power plant is not stable and it is unclear what will evolve.

Note that this recommendation is not based on any current danger in the zone, but is a precautionary measure based on the current uncertainty.

ARPANSA is closely following the safety issues surrounding the Fukushima Dai-ichi site and in particular the current status of effect of hydrogen explosions, fire and aftershocks on the four reactor units and the status of spent fuel ponds at a number of the reactor units. ARPANSA notes that this event has still been rated by the Japanese Government as an INES level 4 (an accident with local consequences).

The recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday 11 March has caused major damage to a number of nuclear reactors on the east coast of Japan. The Japanese Government has established an evacuation zone around the affected reactors and is responding to the crisis as it evolves.

It remains the case that although unlikely, there is a small chance of exposure to radiation, at very low levels, for people who were in the Fukushima area and an isolated area near Onagawa prior to noon on 15 March 2011. The health effects from exposure at these low levels are considered very low to negligible.

For those Australians in Japan but outside the affected areas, based on current information, ARPANSA advises that, given the projected wind conditions for the next 48 hours which are heading in a south east direction, any radioactivity that may eventuate from a deterioration in the current status of any of the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactor units, would be dispersed over the sea and would reduce intensity the further away from the reactor site.

Given these current conditions there is no potential for exposure to Australia or countries within the region which would have any health impacts.

As the situation continues to develop, all Australians in Japan are strongly encouraged to continue to follow the protective measures recommended by the Japanese Government. This may include sheltering. In addition, if there is any indication of contamination or if there is any doubt about contamination, this contamination is easily removed by washing your body and clothes.

Australians returning home from Japan are highly unlikely to be contaminated or exposed to significant radiation and will not require checks for radioactivity. However, if people wish to seek medical advice they should contact their local GP.

ARPANSA and the Chief Medical Officer advise that iodine tablets are only required when exposed to substantial radiation doses. There is no current need for those returning from Japan or those in Japan outside the exclusion Zone to consider the use of potassium iodide tablets.

Meetings have been held with GP representatives, the Department of Health and Ageing, and ARPANSA to ensure that people who present with inquiries about radiation exposure will receive consistent advice.

Discussions are ongoing between jurisdictions. Further information will continue to be provided as the situation develops.

Media contact: 02 6289 7400

Current Official Exclusion Zones

Image of exclusion zones

Figure 1 (Click to enlarge)

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