The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Saturday it has sent two experts to Japan, where authorities were seeking to calm fears of a reactor meltdown in the aftermath of a massive earthquake.
“We have some of the most expert people in this field in the world working for the NRC and we stand ready to assist in any way possible,” commission chairman Gregory Jaczko said in a statement announcing the deployment.
The NRC — an independent agency mandated by Congress to regulate US commercial nuclear power plants and other nuclear materials — said the pair were experts in boiling water nuclear reactors and are part of a broader US aid team sent to the disaster zone.
The commission has activated “its Maryland-based headquarters Operations Center since the beginning of the emergency in Japan, and is operating on a 24-hour basis,” the statement added.
A blast at a Japanese nuclear plant triggered fears of a meltdown after a massive earthquake and tsunami left more than 1,000 dead and at least 10,000 unaccounted for.
As workers doused the stricken reactor with sea water to try to avert catastrophe, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the chaos unleashed by Friday’s 8.9 magnitude quake was an “unprecedented national disaster.”
On Sunday in Japan, the operator of the plant said the cooling system of another reactor was not working and risked a possible explosion.