Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Earthquake: Frequently Asked Questions

Today, CRESA has received a number of questions regarding current events, as they are unfolding in Japan, and the risk of radioactive fallout here in SW Washington.

Who is responsible for monitoring radioactivity & exposure here in Washington?
The Washington State Department of Health is tasked with this important responsibility.  Their main website can be found at  DOH issued a press release about their monitoring activities and has put out a "frequently asked questions" pamphlet about these very concerns at

Should I stock up on Potassium Iodide? 
The Clark County Public Health Department has informed us that the use of Potassium Iodide IS NOT recommended for people in Washington at this time because there is no risk.  Potassium Iodide can be harmful to pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding and persons with kidney disease. We will continue to work with state and federal partners monitoring work as the situation in Japan develops.

Are you hiding information from the public to prevent widespread panic about this situation?
No.  While we understand there is a lot of information being published every minute that creates concern, CRESA is committed to sharing information with the public as soon as we believe there is a credible cause for concern.  We have received a number of articles today from the public which are focused on heightening concern and fear about the unknowns of this situation. 

It is important to understand that each of us encounter risk every day.  Statistics tell us that people lose their lives on a regular basis in motor-vehicle collisions and yet, we don't have the same fear level that a new situation like this presents.  

We encourage you to consider the collective body of articles, the credentials of the authors and the science being cited within the information that you are seeing online.  We also realize this is a dynamic situation and that we will learn more about the impacts as the situation evolves. 

I want to volunteer for the Red Cross to go to Japan, but am frustrated at not being deployed rapidly.  We often encourage people to preaffiliate with volunteer agencies BEFORE disaster for this very reason.  Prospective volunteers must go through applications, background checks and receive training before they can be deployed into any emergency situation.  This is for the safety of both the volunteer and the agency sending them.  For SW Washington residents, the Red Cross website may be found at  For readers in the Portland metro area, check out

Did Clark County receive a tsunami alert this past weekend?
No.  While the Washington Coast was under a tsunami advisory, the impacts to Clark County were anticipated to be very minimal.  In a larger tsunami situation, we might see debris floating down the Columbia River, but there are no active planning scenarios which suggest that Clark County would be largely affected by tsunami at this time. 

Has Clark County deployed any resources to Japan to assist in this crisis?
We are not aware of any direct deployment of our emergency response personnel.  Usually, requests for mutual aid come through the State of Washington through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact.  Sometimes, however, agencies make outreach to affected disaster areas and send resources without informing CRESA.  So, this is why we simply say we are not aware of any deployment at this time.  We do, however, know that we have not yet received any EMAC requests to fill.

We, here at CRESA, strive to share information with our community openly and transparently, so if you have questions about this developing situation in Japan, please feel free to reply to this blog, leave comments on Facebook or tweet your questions to @CRESA. 

Our hearts continue to go out to the many victims of this terrible tragedy.
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1 comment:

John Bartley K7AAY said...

Regarding volunteering for Red Cross disaster relief: It takes many classes and much participation in local disaster work until one has developed adequate credibility and trust to be picked for out-of-state disaster work, and being selected to respond internationally takes even more of a track record. I have not been able to find _any_ record in the media that the Japanese Red Cross Society has asked for _anyone_ outside of their country to participate, and the JRCS is the sole gateway to participation there.