Frequently Asked Questions: Japan Earthquake
Q1. What is the Government of Canada doing to assist Japan?
As Prime Minister Harper stated, Canada stands ready to provide any and all possible assistance to the people of Japan.
Canada has put a range of capabilities at Japan's disposal, including a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification team, which is currently on standby and ready to be deployed.
The Government of Canada is also offering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear technical expertise and equipment, Canadian Forces assets-including strategic airlift and personnel-to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts, Government of Canada relief stocks and emergency medical and engineering capabilities. In response to a first request by the Government of Japan, Canada, working with the Canadian Red Cross, is providing approximately 25,000 woven thermal wool blankets from its emergency relief supply stockpile to support the urgent efforts under way for the affected people of Japan (for more information, see Canada’s statement here.
In response to a subsequent request by the Government of Japan, Canada provided portable radiation survey meters and dosimeters to support the ongoing Japanese response to the nuclear emergency.
Canadians wishing to donate money to humanitarian organizations that are raising money to support relief efforts or that are active in the emergency response should consult the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada Web site How Canadians Can Help.
Q2. How is Canada responding to the situation in Japan?
Since the first hours after the earthquake, many Canadian departments and agencies have been mobilizing to be in a position to assist the Government of Japan.
The Government of Canada, through the Government Operations Centre, is monitoring and assessing the situation at nuclear plants in Japan in order to assess any potential risks to Canadians.
A number of federal departments and agencies are working together, with other national and international organizations, to monitor the situation in Japan for any potential threats to the health and safety of Canadians:
- Health Canada is the Government of Canada lead agency on the impact to human health from potential radiation exposure. Health Canada is currently monitoring for potential health risks from the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan.
- Environment Canada is providing support to Health Canada by running highly specialized computer-based simulations to monitor weather patterns.
- The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has activated its Emergency Operations Center and is actively monitoring the situation following the earthquake in Japan and the potential damage to Japan's nuclear power plants. The CNSC works in close collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the International Atomic Energy Agency's International Seismic Safety Centre, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is coordinating the overall Government of Canada response to the situation in Japan and providing advice to Canadians living in Japan as well as those who may be planning to travel there.
- Public Safety Canada is coordinating and supporting the efforts of federal organizations to ensure the safety of Canadians. It works closely with provincial and territorial emergency management organizations.
Q3. Is there a health risk to Canadians from radiation from Japan?
Based on the information currently available, there is no radiation health risk to Canadians resulting from the events in Japan. The radiation leak in Japan is not expected to pose any health or safety risk to Canada. Federal departments and agencies are closely working together and are in close contact with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Government of Japan and the international community to manage the current situation.
Canadians in Japan have been advised to exercise caution and avoid travel to certain areas. More information on travel warnings for Japan can be found here: Travel Report for Japan
For more information, go to: Information Update: No radiation at harmful levels will reach Canada.
Q4. What is Health Canada doing to monitor the health risks (effects) of the (possible) radiation leak in Japan?
Health Canada is monitoring the health risks from the radiation leak in Japan through many venues:
- Monitoring national and international radiation monitoring networks
- Liaising with CNSC, Environment Canada and other federal partners (through the Federal Nuclear Emergency Plan) and international partners such as the International Atomic Energy Agency
- Monitoring information from international sources to assess potential health effects
- Working with Environment Canada's Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC-EC) to predict wind patterns and identify areas that might be affected by a radiation release.
Q5.What is Canada doing to ensure that imported food is safe?
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency and Health Canada, is implementing enhanced import controls on milk products, fruits, and vegetables from areas of Japan affected by the ongoing nuclear crisis (Japanese prefectures of Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, and Tochigi).
These products will not be allowed entry into Canada without acceptable documentation verifying their safety. These measures will be adjusted, as warranted, to ensure the Canadian food supply remains protected.
For more information, please see the CFIA website.
Q6. How is Environment Canada contributing to the monitoring and modelling of the radioactive material from Japan?
Environment Canada's Canadian Meteorological Centre is running a complete suite of sophisticated atmospheric transport and dispersion models in order to help determine when and where radioactive material could be detected. All these sophisticated numerical models are being run on the Environment Canada supercomputer located at the Canadian Meteorological Centre in Montréal. Environment Canada is also operating high volume sampling equipment on behalf of Health Canada's background radiation monitoring network.
The analysis of potential impacts for Canadians in Japan as well as of potential impacts for Canadians in Canada is provided by Health Canada, based on the information provided by Environment Canada and dose calculations from Health Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
For more information, please visit Health Canada's website.
Q7. What advice do we have for Canadians in Japan?
Following consultations with Government of Canada experts, and based on information available from the Government of Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Canada has assessed that at this stage there is no indication that there is a radiation health risk to Canadian citizens in Japan and other countries in Asia.
Given the evolving situation, Canadians living within 80 km of the Fukushima nuclear power plant are advised that they should, as a further precautionary measure, evacuate this area. The directions of the Japanese government and local emergency response personnel should also be followed by all Canadians in Japan.
For more information, go to: Information on Radiation Levels in Japan.
There is no radiation health risk to Canadians travelling into or out of Japan, provided they have not been within the evacuation zone established by Japan.
For more information, go to: Travel Report for Japan.
Based on current information, areas outside the Japanese evacuation zone are not subject to radiation levels associated with a health risk. Health risks exist within the Japanese evacuation zone; therefore, all Canadians are advised to follow the direction given by the Japanese authorities and should not enter these areas.
Q8. What advice is the Government of Canada giving to those planning to travel to Japan?
Canadians planning to travel to Japan should consult DFAIT's Travel Report. As there have been disruptions at certain airports, Canadians are advised to confirm their travel arrangements with their airline, tour group, or travel agent before heading to the airport.
DFAIT strongly urges Canadian citizens to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service (www.travel.gc.ca) in order to receive the latest advice from the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.
Q9. Could damage occur to Canadian nuclear power plants in the event of an earthquake?
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), as the Canadian nuclear regulator, is confident about the safety of Canada's fleet of nuclear reactors regarding seismic activity.
The CNSC would like to reassure Canadians that nuclear power plants located in Canada are among the most robust designs in the world and have redundant safety systems to prevent damage in the case of an earthquake. The nuclear power plants in Canada are located in areas where major earthquakes are not expected, and tsunami essentially cannot happen.
For more information, go to: Japanese Earthquake - A Canadian Perspective: Questions and Answers.
Public Safety Canada