Deadly cloud ‘not likely’ to reach PH

MANILA, Philippines—The possibility that a radioactive cloud from Japan will form and drift toward the Philippines is “very remote” as current weather systems show that the country is out of its probable path, the chief government physicist and weather forecaster said Sunday.

Alumanda de la Rosa, head of the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), said there was no danger that a radioactive cloud from Japan would drift to the Philippines.

Wind systems indicated that a radioactive cloud, should one form, would move east from Japan to the Pacific Ocean.

“There is no threat to the Philippines. Should there be any clouds, it will be moving east from Japan, away from us,” De la Rosa said.

She said the PNRI had been communicating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the World Meteorological Organization about the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), is located about 240 kilometers north of Tokyo on Japan’s northeast coast.

De la Rosa said radioactive clouds were invisible but could be detected by instruments. As of Sunday, the radiation level in the country’s atmosphere was “normal,” she said.

Robert Sawi, chief climatologist at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), also allayed fears that a radioactive cloud could reach the country.

“It’s very remote,” he said.

Sawi said the winds from the region were unlikely to head down south to the Philippines. “The winds in that area is moving from west to east,” he said.

If a radioactive cloud forms, it will drift to the open sea, where it will be dispersed, he said.

A statement from the IAEA Sunday said winds from Japan were moving northeast.

“In partnership with the World Meteorological Organization, the IAEA is providing its member states with weather forecasts for the affected areas in Japan. The latest predictions have indicated winds moving to the northeast, away from Japanese coast over the next three days,” the United Nations agency said.

De la Rosa also noted that the IAEA had been sending the PNRI bulletins about the progress of the repairs in the cooling reactors, which were damaged when an 8.9-magnitude quake hit Japan on Friday and produced a devastating tsunami.

“We are monitoring Japan and how they have been addressing the cooling reactors. The problem is they have to stop with the repair because of the aftershocks. But they have the capability,” she said.

Other countries around Japan were also monitoring radiation levels and wind systems in the northeast Pacific to determine the path of a nuclear cloud.

China, South Korea

Both China and South Korea said they foresaw no nuclear danger as the winds from Japan were not heading toward them.

South Korea, to the west of Japan, saw little chance of any radiation blowing across its territory.

“We see no impact (from Japan’s radiation) so far as the current winds are westerlies,” said Lee Durk-hun, head of operational safety analysis at the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety. “However, if the winds change, it could affect us, and according to our close monitoring systems, we will prepare measures to prevent any damage.”

Authorities in China’s northeastern province of Liaoning have begun monitoring possible radiation from Japan, but have not yet detected any, Xinhua News Agency reported.

“At present the figures are normal and Liaoning has not been affected,” it quoted nuclear safety official Gao Kui as saying.

With reports from Dona Pazzibugan and Reuters