Rush Offers Condolences to Earthquake Victims in Japan and Urges Caution in Revising U.S. Nuclear Energy Policy
WASHINGTON –– Like the rest of the world, since Friday, U. S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) has kept a close eye on the events in the nation of Japan in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck its northeastern coast on Friday. In addition to offering his prayers and support for the victims and survivors of the epic 8.9 magnitude earthquake, Rush has also kept abreast of the U.S.-led response organized by the Obama Administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and international relief organizations.
As the news on the ground continues to unfold, with a death toll that’s already upwards of 2,000, news reports indicate that a nuclear energy crisis is emerging. Today, onsite emergency relief personnel report that four out of five pumps being used to flood the Unit 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex have failed. That situation, combined with other problems at the site, raise the specter of the threat of the meltdown of nuclear fuel rods and the prospect of a nuclear catastrophe on a level that could eclipse the partial nuclear reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island, in Pennsylvania, in 1979.
In response to one of the largest earthquakes in world history as well as the growing threat of nuclear fallout, Rush, who is the Ranking Member of the Energy and Power Subcommittee, today released the following statement:
"First, I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of Japan who, right now, are struggling to survive and regroup in the aftermath of Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. The loss of human life in the aftermath of a natural disaster on this scale is often hard to grasp and I want the people of Japan, their families and loved ones—in the U.S. and abroad—to know that I stand in earnest, fervent prayer for the lives of those who were lost, for those who are struggling to survive and for the safety and security of the first responders. I am pleased to see the rapid response and engagement of the Obama Administration, U. S. military personnel and USAID who, right now, are doing everything humanly possible to make a difference in that tragic situation.
"At the same time, duty compels me to respond to the ongoing crisis surrounding the stability, or lack thereof, of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex and the implications of what’s taking place, there, with respect to nuclear energy policy in the United States.
"The U.S. government is prepared to offer technical expertise, as well as any other type of assistance that the Japanese government requests as they deal with this ongoing situation. Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in coordination with the Department of Energy and other federal agencies, has sent two boiling-water reactor experts to Japan as part of a USAID team.
"As the Ranking Member on the Energy and Power Subcommittee, I want to assure my constituents and all Americans that I will continue to monitor the situation. I have also joined with other Ranking Members on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and its relevant subcommittees, to call for hearings into the specifics of what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant.
"Until Congress and the Administration have had the opportunity to conduct its own independent evaluation of the risks posed by nuclear reactors in the United States, and the preparedness of industry and regulators to respond to those risks, I urge caution in determining how best to move forward in U.S. nuclear energy policy."