U.S. to deploy ground monitoring equipment in Japan

WASHINGTON Wed Mar 16, 2011 5:44pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is trying to deploy equipment in Japan that can detect radiation exposure at the ground level, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Congress on Wednesday.

Chu declined to tell lawmakers, when asked, whether he was satisfied with Japan's response so far to its nuclear crisis.

"I can't really say. I think we hear conflicting reports," Chu said.

The detection system is part of the 1,700 pounds (771 kg) of equipment and 39 personnel from the Energy Department sent to Japan, Chu said.

The department has also provided equipment to monitor airborne radiation, Chu said.

"We continue to offer assistance in any way we can as well as informing ourselves of what the situation is," he said at a congressional hearing.

Chu said the Energy Department is in contact, almost on an hourly basis, with its people to get information on what is happening in Japan. He noted Japan was a very advanced country.

"They take these things very seriously. So, I don't want to say anything more than we will stand by and help them as best we can," he said.

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