CHICAGO (CBS) – Sen. Dick Durbin is expressing concern about the safety of those who have survived the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

A major concern to Durbin is radioactive fallout and the safety of Japan’s nuclear plants, and said they must be monitored closely in coming weeks.

Overall, he said, he is pleased that President Obama has pledged that the United States will help in any manner necessary.

But Durbin said that the U.S. and much of the rest of the world could learn something from Japan’s advance preparations, and specifically the building codes that were designed to assure that high-rises could survive earthquakes.

“We have to be sensitive to the fact that establishing reasonable standards for the safety of buildings should be part of our future, too,” said Durbin, a native of E. St. Louis, not far from the New Madrid fault.

“Many times we debate about government regulation. But there are times when those standards make the difference between life and death.”

Durbin said the death tolls alone tell the story.

The Japanese quake killed more than 1,000 people. It measured 8.9 on the Richter scale. By contrast, the January 2010 Haitian earthquake killed more than 310,000 people although it was measured at a far milder 7 on the Richter scale.

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