Text hoax on nuke radiation grips PH, dupes PUP head

A text hoax — reminiscent of a bogus incident years ago that falsely reported the death of Pope John Paul II – again reared its ugly head when text messages spread early Monday claiming that radiation fallout from Japan’s busted nuclear facilities was about to reach the Philippines.

A photo grab shows a nuclear plant in Japan exploding on Monday.
The wrong information deceived mobile phone users who passed it around like a virus, with the president of the state-owned Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) among those falling for the trap.

PUP president Dante Guevarra, apparently without consulting proper government authorities and checking news sources, hurriedly cancelled classes in its Sta. Mesa campus, catching many students by surprise.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) clarified, however, that there was no truth to the rumors that the alleged nuclear meltdown in “Fukushima,” or other places in Japan threatens to affect other places with radiation.

The science agency said there is no immediate danger to the Philippines and advised the public “not to entertain these rumors and to stop forwarding such messages so as not to sow panic among the people.”

The DOST said it is in constant communication with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the highest authority on nuclear matters, for advice on the current situation of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Available data do not indicate any immediate threats to the Philippines.

The DOST, through PAGASA and the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI), said it is thoroughly monitoring the situation of the nuclear power plants in northern Japan in relation to the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami events.

DOST-PAGASA said they have done several numerical simulations, including the numerical model that predicts the motion of air which may transport radiation from the Japanese nuclear power plant in the event of a nuclear fallout.

“The computed trajectories of air parcel for the next three days showed that radiation from the nuclear power plant will not affect any part of the Philippine Area of Responsibility,” a statement from the agencies said.

The statement explained that prevailing winds during the current month up to early to mid-May at all levels of the atmosphere over Japan and the Philippines are moving toward the northeast and east. This means that wind trajectories are going towards the Pacific Ocean side, it added.

“There is nothing to worry about any immediate effect of radiation in the Philippines at the moment,” the statement concluded.

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