U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has approved the dispatch of 140 members of the Marine Corps’ emergency nuclear response unit to Japan, a senior Japanese Self-Defense Forces officer said Thursday.
The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force will not begin operations immediately but will prepare for contingencies at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s <9501> troubled No. 1 nuclear power station in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, said Gen. Ryoichi Oriki, chief of staff at the SDF Joint Staff Office, at a press conference.
The unit will work with the SDF in order to be ready, according to Oriki.
The CBIRF personnel, based in the U.S. state of Maryland, will arrive aboard some seven C-17 transport aircraft and will carry radiation detection and decontamination devices, according to sources with access to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
At a meeting in Tokyo on March 21, Adm. Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told Oriki that the United States plans to send some 450 experts to the power station.