USFK: Military families in Korea need not worry about radiation
SEOUL — U.S. Forces Korea is assuring servicemembers and their families here that there has been no evidence of any significant radiation fallout from Japan, despite concerns many South Koreans have about the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Last week, more than 100 schools in South Korea were closed for a day in response to fears that rain falling on the peninsula might be carrying radiation from Japan.
South Korea also temporarily banned the import of agricultural products from areas of Japan near the plant, and salt was reportedly disappearing from supermarket shelves here because some believe ingesting it can protect them from radioactive iodine.
Despite all that, USFK spokesman David Oten said there has been no reason to date for the 28,500 U.S. servicemembers and their families on the peninsula to take any precautions.
“The safety of our servicemembers and their families is always a top priority,” he said. “Accordingly, USFK conducts extensive testing of food, water and air, in close cooperation with our (South Korean) allies.
“There is no indication that there is any issue with food or drinking water on any U.S. base,” Oten continued. “Our readings have detected only normal and natural levels of background radiation.”
The Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety has reportedly found traces of radioactive particles in air samples taken across the peninsula, but South Korean government officials have repeatedly assured residents the levels are so small they do not pose a threat to the public health.
“Air and seawater sampling is conducted by the Korean public health authorities, using an extensive system of sensors,” Oten said. “We receive their data and confer regularly with those Korean authorities to evaluate anything that might affect the health of our personnel.”