So far, the nuclear crisis in Japan has posed little threat to the shores of the United States. While traces of radiation have been detected, carried by the winds, none have neared life-threatening or even health-threatening levels. But the disaster has showed up something important - the American radiation-monitoring system may not be adequate for our own disaster. 16% of all detectors were offline for the disaster.
In California, home to two seaside nuclear plants located close to earthquake fault lines, federal officials said four of the 11 stationary monitors were offline for repairs or maintenance last week. The Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately say why the monitors were inoperable, but did not fix them until several days after low levels of radiation began drifting toward the mainland U.S.While the failure rate is scary to say the least - especially in an age where we fear dirty bombs and/or suitcase nukes - this served as a good test of the system. Now, we have a chance to fix the problem, rather than letting the problems languish for lack of attention.
About 20 monitors out of 124 nationwide were out of service earlier this week, including units in Harlingen, Tex. and Buffalo, N.Y. on Friday, according to the EPA.