Obama orders comprehensive review of US nuclear plants

"I've asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to do a comprehensive review of the safety of our domestic nuclear plants in light of the natural disaster that unfolded in Japan," Obama told reporters at the White House Rose Garden.

The President, however, said he does not expect harmful levels of radiation from Japan to reach US soil.

"Many Americans are worried about the potential risks to the United States... Let me repeat that: We do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska or US territories in the Pacific. That is the judgment of our Nuclear Regulatory Commission and many other experts."

He asserted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has conducted an "exhaustive study" of nuclear facilities in the US and the plants have been "declared safe for any number of extreme contingencies."

"But when we see a crisis like the one in Japan, we have a responsibility to learn from this event and to draw from those lessons to ensure the safety and security of our people."

The US is bringing all available resources to bear to closely monitor the situation in Japan and to protect Americans who may be in "harm's way," he said.

"Even as Japanese responders continue to do heroic work, we know that the damage to the nuclear reactors in Fukushima Daiichi plant poses a substantial risk to people who are nearby," the President said, adding, that why his administration had called for an evacuation of US citizens who are within 50 miles of the plant.

"This decision was based upon a careful scientific evaluation and the guidelines that we would use to keep our citizens safe here in the United States or anywhere in the world," he said. "Beyond this 50-mile radius, the risks do not currently call for an evacuation. But we do have a responsibility to take prudent and precautionary measures to educate those Americans who may be endangered by exposure to radiation if the situation deteriorates. That's why last night I authorized the voluntary departures of family members and dependents of US officials working in northeastern Japan."

The President appealed to US citizens in Japan to carefully monitor the situation and follow the guidance of the US and Japanese governments.

The centers for disease control and prevention, and public health experts do not recommend that people in the US take precautionary measures beyond staying informed. "In going forward, we will continue to keep the American people fully updated, because I believe that you must know what I know as President."

He, however, said nuclear power is an important part of US' energy future, along with renewable sources like wind, solar, natural gas and clean coal.

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