An important piece of news was the deployment of up to a dozen new teams from EPA to monitor potential radioactivity from Japan arriving on the West Coast. Hawaii’s almost mid-Pacific location probably means that a team is deployed there.
Oddly a discipline that is not is not always on the front burner in Homeland Security and Emergency Management may be extremely important. The large reduction of loss of life in the last century from hurricanes was largely due to the development of the meterology profession in reality an outgrowth and necessity once mankind traveled in the air. Strangely even the Galveston Event in which several thousand were killed [the true total is estimated at 6,000 and many more may have been lost] and the early efforts to understand that type of event will capture your imagination if you read “Issac’s Storm” for which at the moment I blank on the authors name.
If my understanding is correct the President erroneosly reported that the NRC [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] would be monitoring the atmospheric radiation but NOAA and EPA are both involved. With the passage of 9 days that should be adequate time for readings to start to reflect the Japanese events. So time will tell.
Perhaps of interest is that spinach and other vegetable crops are now reflecting higher levels of radiation in Japan. So clearly the hazard exists in both the so-called Plume Exposure Pathway [the 10 mile ring around nuclear power plants in the US] and the so-called Ingestion Pathway [the 50 mile ring in the US] for putting livestock on stored feed and monitoring of crops for increased radiation.
Interestingly US Forces are using a 50 mile ring without protective gear and the US continues to monitor radiation outside a 19 mile ring around the impacted sites.
Very limited information in English is available on Protective Action Recommendations and while joint issuance in both Japanese and English is occurring from the Japanese government at the moment it appears to focus on calming the population not protecting it.
This will be a crucial week for this event and the seriousness of the situation may be reflected in the exposure of emergency workers in the immediate vicinity of the plants trying to restore coolant to both reactors and fuel rod storage ponds. So far the slope has been downhill IMO but again perhaps some turnaround this week. President Obama was also issuing assurance in futuro about safety of the US population demonstrating his poor understanding of the issues or his advisors poor understanding. But it also is true that the great probability is increase in longterm cancers not immediate fatalities should radiation travel across the Pacific Ocean.