DFA to Pinoys in Japan: 'Heed advisories'

Posted at 03/12/11 6:36 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos in quake-hit Japan are urged to observe the advisory issued by Japanese authorities.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the authorities of Fukushima Prefecture, located on the island of island of Honsh?, have asked residents living within the 10-mile radius of the Tokyo Electric Power Corp’s Fukushima No. 1 Plant to evacuate.

The DFA said the valve of the containers housing the reactors is set to be opened to release rising pressure. The level of radiation released from the plant will be very low and the safety of the residents is assured.

“The embassy has also released an advisory to the Filipino community to take necessary precautions, report any incidents of injuries or fatalities and request for assistance, monitor developments in their areas and contact the Embassy through the hotline numbers or email to report their condition. Most communication services are still down, but Internet services remain operational,” Ambassador Manuel Lopez said.

As of the latest, NHK World’s breaking news reported that Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the plant, said a blast was heard at its nuclear power plant in Fukushima. No other details were given.

The same breaking news reported that nuclear material cesium has been detected near the Number One reactor at the Fukushima Number One nuclear power plant.  

‘Defense in depth’

Meanwhile, Dr. Eulinia Valdezco, former head of the regulatory group of the Philippines Nuclear Research Institute, reminded that radiation can be harmful to humans.

“We should look at it in the context of what levels of radiation we are talking about,” Valdezco said in a phone interview with ANC’s Dateline Philippines Saturday.

Valdezco explained that nuclear power plants are designed to automatically shut down when emergencies happen.

“This is what happened in the reactors within the areas that was affected by the quake and tsunamis followed after it,” she said. She added that, once shutdown, the reactors has to be cooled down. “If the cooling system is not working, then we have a problem.”

She said nuclear reactors are also designed to use what she described as the principle of “defense in depth”.

“You don’t rely on just one system. There are a number of systems, safety-related, that are put in place such that if one fails, the second defense will take over,” she said.

She added, “What we are not hoping to happen in this particular case if for radioactivity to be released into the environment. People might be exposed to hazardous level of radiation among other things....not just on people but the environment will be contaminated and so on”.

DFA coordinates with posts, Japanese gov’t

The Japanese government is still assessing the damages caused by the massive quake.

DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis said they are actively coordinating with its posts in Japan and the Filipino community to ensure the safety of Filipinos there.

“The Embassy and the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka are constantly in touch with the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the local governments of the three hardest-hit prefectures.  It is also coordinating with the four honorary consulates in Japan—Sapporo, Morioka, Nagoya and Naha—as well as the different Filipino community groups,” Seguis said.

The DFA said media reports placed the death toll at 432, with 1,128 injured and 725 people still unaccounted for. The hardest hit prefectures are Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi. There are approximately 4,500 Filipinos in that region.

However, the names and nationalities of the individuals are still unknown so far, the DFA said.

The DFA said there are a total of 305,972 Filipinos in Japan. Filipinos are also urged to go to city halls of fire stations in cases of emergency.

The Filipino community is encouraged to contact the hotline numbers of the DFA in Manila and the embassy in Tokyo and its consulates in Japan.

Tokyo embassy hotline numbers:

(00813) 5562-1570,
(00813) 5562-1577
(00813) 5562-1590  

Its email address is [email protected]

Philippine Consulates:

(06) 6910-7881 (Osaka)
(011) 614-8090 (Sapporo)
(019) 629-9139 (Morioka)