Taskforce allays fears of radiation spreading to Ireland
A TOP-level government taskforce has moved to allay any public fears about radiation from the damaged Japanese nuclear plants reaching Ireland.
Ireland is currently unlikely to be affected by radiation leaking from the plants, the agencies concluded after meeting yesterday for the second time in 48 hours.
However, the authorities are to continue monitoring the crisis.
Met Eireann is carrying out detailed modelling on worst-case scenarios where a large plume of radioactivity might be released high up into the atmosphere.
It says there is little cause for worry in Ireland at present as any large amounts of radiation would have to travel very long distances, passing first over the US. Prevailing winds are also carrying the radiation out into the Pacific.
Radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread to Ireland in less than a week, affecting food and vegetables supplies from high-lying areas.
So far, the radioactivity from the Japanese plants is dispersing locally and has not reached a height at which it could be spread to northern Europe -- a distance of some 9,000km.
Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland chief executive Dr Ann McGarry said the distance between Ireland and Japan meant that, in the highly unlikely event of contamination reaching Ireland, the levels would be insignificant.
"Even in a worst-case scenario where there was a large scale explosion in the core of the reactor it is still unlikely to have adverse affects here, given the distance involved," Dr McGarry said.
"All available information indicates that any radioactive releases are contained to the local region and are highly unlikely to have any impact for Ireland.
"We will continue to work with our international colleagues to monitor the situation."
The agency met yesterday for the second time with officials from the departments of the Environment and Foreign Affairs, the Office of Emergency Planning and Met Eireann to assess the consequences for Ireland.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna is keeping Irish authorities informed about ongoing developments in Japan.