Travel Health Notice – Nuclear Emergency in Japan

by Wayne Ghesquiere on March 18, 2011

Authorities in Japan have declared a nuclear emergency following the loss of power to ten nuclear reactor units in three separate nuclear power plants (Onagawa, Fukushima Daiichi and Fukiushima Daini). The cooling systems at both Daiichi and Daini experienced problems. Daiichi experienced explosions in three units (Nos. 1, 2 and 3) and a fire has occurred at another unit (No. 4). The loss of power and explosions followed a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which occurred in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan’s island of Honshu on March 11, 2011. The earthquake was followed by several aftershocks and tsunamis along the Pacific coast of Japan.  The Japanese Government is working closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is taking extreme efforts to manage the radiation event.  Based on the information available, areas outside an evacuation zone of a 30 km radius around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station do not have radiation levels associated with a health risk. However, there is a health risk within the evacuation zone, and travellers are advised to follow advice of the Japanese government if they have been in the evacuation zone.  Given the evolving situation, Canadians are advised, as a precautionary measure, to observe an evacuation zone of 80 km around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. There is no health risk associated with radiation to Canadians travelling into or out of Japan, provided they have not been within the 30 km radius of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station after the evacuation was established.  The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that travellers monitor the updated situation reports about the event posted by the Japanese government and the Western Pacific Regions of the World Health Organization. For more information on Japan and travel security, visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website.
Recommendations
Consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before you travel. The Public Health Agency of Canada advises travellers:
  1. to follow the advice of the Japanese government particularly where it concerns the ongoing or future protective measures around the nuclear facilities.
  2. to follow the advice of the Japanese government regarding the use of countermeasures such as potassium iodide should they be issued.

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