Scientists keeping watch on nuclear power reactors from Montgome - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Scientists keeping watch on nuclear power reactors from Montgomery

Ron Fraass, Dir. of the National Air and Radiation Environmental Lab, talks with WSFA 12 News reporter Bryan Henry. Ron Fraass, Dir. of the National Air and Radiation Environmental Lab, talks with WSFA 12 News reporter Bryan Henry.
Scientific Instruments help officials measure anything they need to test. Scientific Instruments help officials measure anything they need to test.

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In a non-descript building at the Gunter Annex in Montgomery, Ala.,  a handful of environmental scientists keep a close eye on what's going on thousands of miles away in Japan. Ron Fraass is our tour guide.

"This is where they actually look at the data," said Fraass, Director of the National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory.

The scientists are in the 'situation room.' Using state of the art computers, the scientists depend on fixed monitors stationed in Hawaii to watch the air, drinking water and even milk.

"Children drink milk. The computer systems monitor everything once an hour," said Fraass.

Across the country there are more than a hundred fixed monitors with a sprinkling on the west coast, Hawaii and Guam.

"If they see anything unusual, we'll see a spectrum," said Fraass.

A print-out that might suggest questionable radiation levels. It's analyzed and if there's a problem;

"It will go out to our fed partners and they will get a hold of state and local levels," said Fraass.

Depending on the findings state and local emergency officials could order an evacuation or a shut down of power plants.

Everything is thoroughly analyzed every hour. On this day scientists will take a look at some air samples fresh from Hawaii, not that they suspect anything but all part of being alert.

Now the encouraging news. So far, so good.. nothing to be concerned about from Hawaii to the east coast.

You can read more about the readings from Japan on the agency's website at www.epa.gov/cdx/

"I'm sleeping just fine, my wife is sleeping just fine," said Fraass.

Sleeping just fine even though the state of Oregon has just become the 5th state to detect low levels of radiation but again we're told.. no need to be alarmed.

Back in the quiet of the situation room, experts are watching for any potential noise of harmful radiation, a kind of vigilance that never stops.

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