Bahrain drawing up radiation crisis plan
Manama, April 13, 2011
Bahraini authorities are drawing up contingency plans to cope with a radiation threat from Japan.
They include screening passengers arriving at Bahrain International Airport, restrictions on Japanese food imports and inspections of ships arriving from Japan to check for contamination.
The proposals were discussed yesterday at an urgent meeting attended by GCC environmental experts and officials.
The meeting has been organised by the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife and continues today at the Mercure Grand Hotel, Seef.
Commission director Dr Adel Al Zayani said a unified GCC radiation contingency plan was vital.
'We are taking all precautionary steps to minimise the risk of any radioactive contamination reaching Bahrain,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'At the moment, there is no threat as the samples of air and water tested in the region shows that level of radiation is normal.'
Dr Al Zayani said the contingency plan would only be activated if radiation levels increase.
'This meeting has been called by us to come up with key recommendations that will be directly sent to GCC environment ministers or authorities for quick implementation, without any delay,' he said.
Dr Al Zayani admitted Bahrain was concerned about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, after it emerged that more radiation had leaked from it than first thought following a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Japan yesterday upgraded the severity of the leak to the highest level on a globally recognised scale, putting it on a par with the world's worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, in the Ukraine.
'Once the contingency plan is activated, travellers will be screened at the airport - especially those coming from Japan,' said Dr Al Zayani.
'Goods and foods are two other concern areas that will be dealt with by the Industry and Commerce Ministry as well as Municipal and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry.'
The GDN reported on March 31 that the commission was co-operating with radiation monitoring experts, including the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia.
However, while Japanese authorities raised the severity of the radiation leak from five to seven on a nuclear disaster scale, the same level as Chernobyl, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said yesterday that the total amount of radioactive materials released so far was equal to about 10 per cent of those released in the 1986 Chernobyl incident.
According to the scale developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Level 7 nuclear accidents involved 'widespread health and environmental effects'.-TradeArabia News Service