April 20, 2011
A 150-member anti-radiation team from the U.S. Marine Corps will leave Japan as early as next week now that the ongoing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is not likely to deteriorate further, a senior Japanese Defense Ministry official said Tuesday.
The Marines’ Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, or CBIRF, has been staying at the U.S. Air Force’s Yokota air base in suburban Tokyo since around April 5 to prepare for an emergency, but the situation at the crippled nuclear plant has not required its callout, according to Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.
U.S. forces appeared to have come to a conclusion that the nuclear crisis would not deteriorate further now that the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, announced Sunday its schedule to bring the situation under control over a period of six to nine months, the official said.
The March 11 massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant’s critical cooling systems, causing its reactors and spent fuel pools to overheat and release radioactive materials into the environment.
Kitazawa told a news conference that the situation fortunately did not warrant CBIRF’s callout so far, and the team will return to the United States if a settlement of the crisis comes in sight, noting that the force is of particular value not only for Japan but also for the United States.
Kitazawa said he will shortly visit Yokota air base to offer his thanks for the team’s visit to Japan.
CBIRF, which is well-versed in fighting against radiation, is capable of a sequence of operations from detecting radioactive contamination to rescuing people exposed to radiation, decontaminating radiation and conducting emergency medical care for radiation-exposed people as a single organization.
This article was posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 2:17 am