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State health officials down playing detection of radiation from Japanese nuclear crisis

(Tim Van Gorp)

State health officials insist the public does not have to worry that a radioactive isotope linked to the Japanese nuclear crisis has been detected in a routine air sample taken on Monday in Lansing.  

Kelly Neibel is the acting spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health. 

“There’s absolutely no reason for people to be concerned about this. The levels detected are very minute and they pose no health threat to people.”

The state routinely tests air samples taken near Michigan’s three nuclear reactors. The last unusual reading was recorded after the Chernobyl accident in the mid-1980s. Neibel downplays the potential health effects of the isotope from the Japanese nuclear crisis to people living in Michigan.  

"All of us are exposed to radiation every day. Some of that’s from natural sources…to manmade sources…like medical x-rays.”

Radioactive isotopes linked to the Japanese nuclear crisis have been reported in many other U.S. states. 

Here's more information from the Michigan Department of Community Health on the nuclear crisis in Japan:


Frequently Asked Questions About

Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Emergency

and Potassium Iodide (KI)

Is there a need for me to be concerned about radiation coming from Japan?

No. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that there is no health risk for people living in the United States at this time. Given the thousands of miles between the U.S. and Japan, it is very unlikely that harmful levels of radiation from Japan will reach the U.S.

Does Michigan have nuclear power plants?

Yes. Michigan has three nuclear power plants. The Fermi 2 Nuclear Power Plant is located in Newport (Monroe County), the D.C. Cook Nuclear Power Plant is located in Bridgman (Berrien County), and the Palisades Power Plant is located in Covert (Van Buren County). It is highly unlikely that the public would come into contact with a radiation released by a nuclear power plant in Michigan. This is due to several factors: the design and construction of Michigan’s nuclear power plants, many safety systems that are in place, extensive emergency plans, and regulatory oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Does Michigan have a plan for nuclear power plant emergencies?

Yes. State agencies, local agencies and the nuclear power plants have approved plans for response to nuclear power plant emergencies. These plans have been in place for many years and are tested on a regular basis.

Does Michigan have a supply of potassium iodide (KI) for a nuclear power plant emergency?

Yes. The Michigan Department of Community Health received a supply of potassium iodide (KI) tablets from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009. The KI tablets are intended for use during a serious emergency at one of Michigan’s nuclear power plants. The tablets are available for residents and businesses who live or work within 10 miles of one of the plants.

Do I need to take potassium iodide (KI) now?

No. There is no need for you to take KI since Japan’s nuclear emergency does not affect Michigan. It is important for you to know that KI does not protect your whole body from radiation. It only protects your thyroid gland if taken within a few hours of coming into contact with harmful radiation. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/ki.

March 17, 2011


Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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