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Tuesday, April 22, 2014         

MILITARY OUTREACH TO JAPAN


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Families fret over safety of loved ones

By William Cole

POSTED:



More than 350 members of the Navy's Patrol Squadron 4 from Kaneohe Bay have been flying multiple assistance missions every day in Japan since the tsunami hit, officials said.

Among the tasks of the P-3 Orion aircraft was to survey the debris field at sea.

About 30 Marines with the 3rd Radio Battalion out of Kaneohe Bay are on their way to provide humanitarian assistance with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit on the USS Essex.

The Air Force sent a C-17 cargo aircraft out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Saturday with electricity generators.

The bulk of the U.S. military assistance being provided has come from outside the state, but the anxiety felt by the families of those military membersfollowing the tsunami, nuclear reactor crisis and radiation release is being registered in Japan, Hawaii and across the rest of the United States.

Rebecca Gill posted to the U.S. Pacific Fleet submarine force Facebook page that the Pearl Harbor-based submarine Santa Fe was in Japan when the tsunami hit.

"I haven't heard anything since I talked to my son Thursday," Gill wrote. "I know he's in good hands but still very worried."

Yesterday morning, sensors on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington pierside in Yokosuka, Japan, detected low levels of radiation from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, 180 miles north of Tokyo.

Rear Adm. Richard Wren, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, notified the Navy community at Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi that residents should limit outdoor activity and shut off ventilation to the outside as much as is practical.

"For some perspective, the additional radiation exposure for the past 12 hours is about 20 millirem, which is less than one month's exposure to naturally occurring background radiation from earth and cosmic sources," Wren said in his notice. "There is no appreciable health risk."

One post to the Naval Forces Japan Facebook page said, "Please put orders in place to at least evacuate the children from all the bases. Please do so before it gets too late. What are we waiting for?"

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said yesterday there was no recommendation that American citizens leave Tokyo, which is 40 miles north of the Navy's Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

Carney said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was in agreement with Japanese officials, who recommended a 12.5-mile radius for evacuation from the Fukushima plant and "shelter-in-place" out to 18 miles.

Capt. Jeff Breslau, a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Fleet headquartered at Pearl Harbor, said there's been "a constant focus on pushing information to the families to let them know what we know as fast as we get the information."

Those methods have included ombudsmen, town hall meetings and Facebook posts.

"It's going to be understandable that people are going to be concerned," Breslau said. "We have to do our best to keep safety first and make sure everybody understands that we're doing everything we can to keep our sailors and their families that are there safe."






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