tagged w/ Cesium-137
HuffPo: Large amounts of radioactive materials could be deposited across 1,000s of miles if water lost at Fukushima fuel pool — Media just beginning to grasp that danger to world is far from over -Nuclear Expert
Published: April 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm ET
Title: Robert Alvarez: The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Is Far From Over
Source: Huffington Post
Author: Robert Alvarez*
Date: Apr 22, 2012
More than a year after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster began, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world are far from over. After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. Senator, it’s sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins pose far greater dangers than the molten cores. This is why:
• Nearly all of the 10,893 spent fuel assemblies sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl
• Several pools are 100 feet above the ground and are completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions. The pools could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake.
• The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating and can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds, if not thousands of miles. [...]
*Robert Alvarez, an Institute for Policy Studies senior scholar, served as senior policy adviser to the Energy Department’s secretary and deputy assistant secretary for national security and the environment from 1993 to 1999. He is an award winning author whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Nation, Technology Review, and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. He has also been featured on”60 Minutes”, Nova and All Things Considered.
Published: April 22nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm ET
THE REPORT FOLLOWS...
HuffPo: Large amounts of radioactive materials could be deposited... more
This is a public service announcement. Your government has lied to you. The safety regulators have lied to you. The media has lied to you. You and your children are currently breathing Strontium, Cesium, Xenon, and radioactive Iodine, which is still spewing from the “active” Fukushima-Daiichi reactor complex. The irrefutable evidence I present needs to be front page news everywhere. Inform everyone.
This page is full of scientific evidence showing worldwide spread of Cesium, Iodine, and Xenon. Have you taken your Vitamin D today?This is a public service announcement. Your government has lied to you. The safety... more
1 year ago
Radioactive cesium from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant probably reached as far as Hokkaido, Shikoku and the Chugoku region in the west, according to a recent simulation by an international research team based on data after March 20, a week after the hydrogen explosions.
Large areas of eastern and northeastern Japan were probably contaminated, with concentrations of cesium-137 exceeding 1,000 becquerels per kilogram of soil in some places, says the study, which was posted Monday on the website of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers for the U.S.-based organization said the study, based on the partial data readings, is the first to estimate potential cesium contamination across the country. But the scientists also played down the impact of the fallout on the three distant regions.Radioactive cesium from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant probably reached as... more
(NaturalNews) Virtually all the numbers you're seeing about the radioactivity coming out of Fukushima are based on iodine-131 which only has a half-life of 8 days, not the far more dangerous cesium-137 which has a half-life of 30 years. So while the mainstream media reports that "radiation levels are falling rapidly" from the 7.5 million times reading taken a few days ago, what they're not telling you is that the cesium-137 radioactivity will take 30 years just to fall by 50 percent.(NaturalNews) Virtually all the numbers you're seeing about the radioactivity... more
ENENews | Energy News ...
EPA posts latest radiation data:
Cesium-137 in Delaware drinking water above “Maximum Contaminant Level”
June 2nd, 2011 at 08:46 PM
Drinking Water RadNet Laboratory Analysis, EPA, June 2, 2011:
Cs-137 @ 4.1 pCi/l
EPA lumps these gamma and beta emitters together under one collective MCL, so if you’re seeing cesium-137 in your milk or water, the MCL [Maximum Contaminant Level] is 3.0 picocuries per liter; if you’re seeing iodine-131, the MCL is 3.0; if you’re seeing cesium-137 and iodine-131, the MCL is still 3.0. – Forbes.comENENews | Energy News ...
EPA posts latest radiation data:
Cesium-137 in... more
Nuclear threat level raised
Crisis rates in most severe category
Japan nuclear agency raises threat level
By Matt Smith, CNN
April 11, 2011 11:11 p.m. EDT
Click on picture to play Video
Anatomy of a ghost town
NEW: The agency raises the level from 5 to 7
7 is the highest possible level and is on par with Chernobyl
Japan's government has called for further evacuations
Cities covered by Monday's orders should evacuate in about a month, Edano says
Tokyo (CNN) -- Japanese authorities Tuesday "provisionally" declared the country's nuclear accident a level-7 event on the international scale for nuclear disasters -- the highest level -- putting it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced the new level Tuesday morning. It had previously been at 5.
Regulators have determined the amount of radioactive iodine released by the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was at least 15 times the volume needed to reach the top of the International Nuclear Event Scale, the agency said. That figure is still about 10 percent of the amount released at Chernobyl, they said.
The amount of radioactive Cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, is about one-seventh the amount released at Chernobyl, according to the agency.
Japan's nuclear concerns explained
Hidehiko Nishiyama, the safety agency's chief spokesman, explained the final level won't be set until the disaster is over and a more detailed investigation has been conducted.
Tetsunari Iida, a former nuclear engineer-turned-industry critic, told CNN the declaration has no immediate practical impact on the crisis. It is a sign, however, that Japanese regulators have rethought their earlier assessments of the disaster, said Iida, who now runs an alternative energy think-tank in Tokyo.
According to the scale, a level 5 equates to the likelihood of a release of radioactive material, several deaths from radiation and severe damage to a reactor core.
The 1979 incident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island was a 5. The partial meltdown of a reactor core there was deemed the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.
The Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union rated a 7 on the scale, which equates to a "major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures."
Japan's government called for evacuations Monday from several towns beyond the danger zone already declared around Fukushima Daiichi, warning that residents could receive high doses of radiation over the coming months.
Japan to evacuate more towns
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the municipalities are likely to see long-term radiation levels that exceed international safety standards, and he warned that the month-old crisis at Fukushima Daiichi is not yet over.
"Things are relatively more stable, and things are stabilizing," he said. "However, we need to be ready for the possibility that things may turn for the worse."
And about an hour after he spoke, a fresh earthquake rattled the country, forcing workers to evacuate the plant and knocking out power to the three damaged reactors for about 40 minutes, the plant's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, reported. The magnitude 6.6 tremor came a month to the day after the magnitude 9 quake and tsunami that knocked out the plant's cooling systems, and followed a magnitude 7.1 aftershock Thursday night.
Neither the 6.6 quake nor any of the smaller ones that rippled across the region in its wake inflicted any more damage to the plant, Tokyo Electric officials told reporters.
At least six killed in latest Japan quake
Tuesday morning, a fire broke out in a battery storage building in a water discharge area of reactors 1-4 at Fukushima Daiichi, Tokyo Electric said. The fire was out a few hours later and the company said it caused no radiation emissions and no effect on cooling systems.
Japan's government said it did not know how many people would be displaced by the new evacuation orders. Evacuation orders have so far covered about 85,000 people inside the 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) zone, while another 62,000 within 30 kilometers have been told to stay inside, Fukushima prefecture officials told CNN.
The decision announced Monday does not create a wider radius around the plant, said Masanori Shinano, an official with Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission.
Instead, "if there are areas in the northwestern parts where there is a risk of exceeding 20 millisieverts as a cumulative dose over a one-year period, the area will be designated an evacuation area even if it is beyond the 30-kilometer area," Shinano told reporters Monday night.
That dose is a tiny fraction of what would cause immediate radiation sickness, but it's more than seven times the amount a typical resident of a western industrialized country receives from background sources in a year. Long-term exposures to those levels of radiation could increase the risk of cancer -- and the presence of cesium isotopes that have half-lives of up to 30 years means that radioactivity could linger for some time.
Nuclear threat level raised
Crisis rates in most severe... more
Immense thanks to "misti," who brought to my attention this article, which I'd like to now copy and paste right here, so you all can see it...
The Ingenuity of the Commons
How To Remove Radioactive Iodine-131 From Drinking Water
Apr. 7 2011 - 9:03 am
IPhoto: mage of a water drop - Photo by spettacolopuro via flickr
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends reverse osmosis water treatment to remove radioactive isotopes that emit beta-particle radiation. But iodine-131, a beta emitter, is typically present in water as a dissolved gas, and reverse osmosis is known to be ineffective at capturing gases.
A combination of technologies, however, may remove most or all of the iodine-131 that finds its way into tap water, all available in consumer products for home water treatment.
First, the standard disclaimers: Every government agency involved in radiation monitoring—the EPA, FDA, USDA, NRC, CDC, etc.—has stressed that the radiation now reaching the United States has been found at levels thousands of times lower than standards of health concern. When it found iodine-131 in drinking water samples from Boise, Idaho and Richland, Washington this weekend, the EPA declared:
An infant would have to drink almost 7,000 liters of this water to receive a radiation dose equivalent to a day’s worth of the natural background radiation exposure we experience continuously from natural sources of radioactivity in our environment.”
But not everyone accepts the government’s reassurances. Notably, Physicians for Social Responsibility has insisted there is no safe level of exposure to radionuclides, regardless of the fact that we encounter them naturally:
There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”
via Physicians for Social Responsibility, psr.org
No matter where you stand on that debate, you might be someone who simply prefers not to ingest anything that escaped from a damaged nuclear reactor. If so, here’s what we know:
The EPA recommends reverse osmosis water treatment for most kinds of radioactive particles. Iodine-131 emits a small amount of gamma radiation but much larger amounts of beta radiation, and so is considered a beta emitter:
Reverse osmosis has been identified by EPA as a “best available technology” (BAT) and Small System Compliance Technology (SSCT) for uranium, radium, gross alpha, and beta particles and photon emitters. It can remove up to 99 percent of these radionuclides, as well as many other contaminants (e.g., arsenic, nitrate, and microbial contaminants). Reverse osmosis units can be automated and compact making them appropriate for small systems.
via EPA, Radionuclides in Drinking Water
However, EPA designed its recommendations for the contaminants typically found in municipal water systems, so it doesn’t specify Iodine-131 by name. The same document goes on to say, “Reverse osmosis does not remove gaseous contaminants such as carbon dioxide and radon.”
Iodine-131 escapes from damaged nuclear plants as a gas, and this is why it disperses so quickly through the atmosphere. It is captured as a gas in atmospheric water, falls to the earth in rain and enters the water supply.
This is what happened in Boise, Idaho, where iodine-131 was found in rainwater samples last week and then in drinking water samples a few days later.
Reverse osmosis works by forcing water through material with very tiny pores—as tiny as .0001 microns—so that almost nothing except water emerges on the other side. Almost nothing.
“Dissolved gases and materials that readily turn into gases also can easily pass through most reverse osmosis membranes,” according to the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. For this reason, “many reverse osmosis units have an activated carbon unit to remove or reduce the concentration of most organic compounds.”
That raises the next question: does activated carbon remove iodine-131? There is some evidence that it does. Scientists have used activated carbon to remove iodine-131 from the liquid fuel for nuclear solution reactors. And Carbon air filtration is used by employees of Perkin Elmer, a leading environmental monitoring and health safety firm, when they work with iodine-131 in closed quarters. At least one university has adopted Perkin Elmer’s procedures.
Activated carbon works by absorbing contaminants, and fixing them, as water passes through it. It has a disadvantage, however: it eventually reaches a load capacity and ceases to absorb new contaminants.
The EPA also recommends ion exchange for removing radioactive compounds from drinking water. The process used in water softeners, ion exchange removes contaminants when water passes through resins that contain sodium ions. The sodium ions readily exchange with contaminants.
Ion exchange is particularly recommended for removing Cesium-137, which has been found in rain samples in the U.S., but not yet in drinking water here. Some resins have been specifically designed for capturing Cesium-137, and ion exchange was used to clean up legacy nuclear waste from an old reactor at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site.
The best solution may be the one used routinely to treat water at the Savannah River Site. The process combines activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange. If one doesn’t get the iodine-131, two others have a chance to capture the radiation through other means.
And that may be the best solution for the average drinker of tap water as well.
Once you have access to cleaned water, be sure to use it to wash your vegetables. The FDA has not yet begun monitoring U.S. produce for radiation because, the agency says, there is not yet a radiation threat here. The Chinese have been monitoring vegetables, and they’ve urged their citizens to wash their spinach:
The Ministry of Health also issued a statement Wednesday evening saying trace levels of radioactive isotope iodine-131 had been found in spinach planted in the open fields within the three regions.
It is has been proven that washing the spinach with water can effectively remove radioactive materials, the Health Ministry said.
It is believed that recent rains in these regions helped drop the radioactive iodine from the air to the ground, and the radioactive materials fell onto the surface of the spinach, the ministry said.”
via XinhuaImmense thanks to "misti," who brought to my attention this article, which... more
How damaged nuclear plant's radiation gets into food, water
Photo: A crop of spinach is nearly ready for harvest at a field in Sukagawa in Fukushima Prefecture on Tuesday.
March 23rd, 2011
11:42 PM ET
Officials in Japan's capital Wednesday advised parents not to give city tap water to infants after tests showed it had elevated levels of radioactive iodine - a problem attributed to a nuclear plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Radiation exceeding legal limits also has been found in 11 types of vegetables and milk in prefectures surrounding the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, prompting some prefectures to stop shipping these products. The United States is preventing the import of milk, milk products, fresh vegetables and fruit from four Japanese prefectures, though certain products could be allowed in if tests show them to be safe, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said.
Below are brief explanations of how the radiation can get into food and water and how dangerous the food/water contamination in this instance might be.
Traveling from nuclear plant to food, water and milk
Radioactive particles escaping from the Fukushima Daiichi plant (see this interactive for how and why this is happening) bind to dust, traveling in the air for a distance before coming to ground, according to CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The particles, such as cesium-137 and iodine-131, contaminate farm produce and water simply by falling on them.
The large surface areas of leafy vegetables, such as spinach, make them likely to collect greater amounts of particles than many other produce types, said Marko Moscovitch, professor at Georgetown's Department of Radiation Medicine.
The main way these particles get into milk is when they fall on the grass eaten by cows.
What are the risks of consuming the food, milk and water?
Experts say little is known about how eating radiation-contaminated food affects people in the short- and long-term. But experts who have spoken with CNN say that the contamination levels reported so far appear to pose very little risk.
Dr. James Cox, an oncology professor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said he believes the radiation levels measured in these products pose a "nonexistent" immediate risk to humans, and "very low" long-term risk.
Spinach tested in a prefecture south of Fukushima showed radiation up to 27 times greater than the legal limit. Gupta, however, said a person "would have to eat the contaminated spinach from Japan every day for one year to get the same amount of radiation you would get from one chest CT (computed tomography) scan."
A chest CT scan would expose a person to about 7 millisieverts of radiation. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that an average person gets about 3.1 millisieverts annually from natural sources, and an average American - thanks in part to medical diagnostic procedures and other man-made sources of radiation - gets about 6.2 millisieverts per year.
Even low radiation doses can damage or alter the DNA of irradiated cells, the NRC says. And the radiation protection community "conservatively assumes that any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer and hereditary effect, and that the risk is higher for higher radiation exposures," the NRC says.
But Gupta and Moscovitch say it's highly unlikely that the radiation reported so far in Japanese food would pose a risk to human health.
"(The radiation is) not negligible my any means. But impact on human health? Not likely," Gupta said Wednesday night on the CNN program "In the Arena."
Read more about what Cox - an expert on the effects of radiation on the survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima - has to say about the risks in this story, which also addresses the consumption of contaminated milk following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
The concern about infants and the contaminated water
Tokyo officials recommended withholding tap water from infants after government samples taken Tuesday night found 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water - two times higher than the limit that the government considers safe for infants.
The amount of iodine detected was lower than the level considered safe for adults: 300 becquerels per kilogram. A liter of water weights 1 kilogram. A becquerel is a measurement of radioactive intensity by weight.
The level set for infants is "very conservative," Cox said, but elevated radiation levels are considered a problem for small children, because their thyroid glands are more susceptible to radioactive iodine.
"Erring on the side of caution for the extreme degree for children makes good sense," Cox said. For adults, "as far as the immediate health risk, something that would make people sick, I don't think that would come close to it."
Can radioactive contamination be removed from water?
The World Health Organization says standard water treatment procedures - including coagulation, sedimentation and filtration - might remove "significant amounts of radioactive contaminants." Other options including blending contaminated water with noncontaminated water to dilute the radioactive particles, the organization says.
CNN's Thom Patterson, Elizabeth Landau, Danielle Dellorto, Miriam Falco, Madison Park and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.How damaged nuclear plant's radiation gets into food, water
Photo: A crop of... more
The New York Times
March 14, 2011 - 1:51AM PT
Radioactive Releases in Japan Could Last Months, Experts Say
By DAVID E. SANGER and MATTHEW L. WALD
WASHINGTON — As the scale of Japan’s nuclear crisis begins to come to light, experts in Japan and the United States say the country is now facing a cascade of accumulating problems that suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.
The emergency flooding of two stricken reactors with seawater and the resulting steam releases are a desperate step intended to avoid a much bigger problem: a full meltdown of the nuclear cores in two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. On Monday, an explosion blew the roof off the second reactor, not damaging the core, officials said, but presumably leaking more radiation.
So far, Japanese officials have said the melting of the nuclear cores in the two plants is assumed to be “partial,” and the amount of radioactivity measured outside the plants, though twice the level Japan considers safe, has been relatively modest.
But Pentagon officials reported Sunday that helicopters flying 60 miles from the plant picked up small amounts of radioactive particulates — still being analyzed, but presumed to include cesium-137 and iodine-121 — suggesting widening environmental contamination.
In a country where memories of a nuclear horror of a different sort in the last days of World War II weigh heavily on the national psyche and national politics, the impact of continued venting of long-lasting radioactivity from the plants is hard to overstate.
Japanese reactor operators now have little choice but to periodically release radioactive steam as part of an emergency cooling process for the fuel of the stricken reactors that may continue for a year or more even after fission has stopped. The plant’s operator must constantly try to flood the reactors with seawater, then release the resulting radioactive steam into the atmosphere, several experts familiar with the design of the Daiichi facility said.
That suggests that the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated may not be able to return to their homes for a considerable period, and that shifts in the wind could blow radioactive materials toward Japanese cities rather than out to sea.
Re-establishing normal cooling of the reactors would require restoring electric power — which was cut in the earthquake and tsunami — and now may require plant technicians working in areas that have become highly contaminated with radioactivity.
More steam releases also mean that the plume headed across the Pacific could continue to grow. On Sunday evening, the White House sought to tamp down concerns, saying that modeling done by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had concluded that “Hawaii, Alaska, the U.S. Territories and the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity.”
But all weekend, after a series of intense interchanges between Tokyo and Washington and the arrival of the first American nuclear experts in Japan, officials said they were beginning to get a clearer picture of what went wrong over the past three days. And as one senior official put it, “under the best scenarios, this isn’t going to end anytime soon.”
The essential problem is the definition of “off” in a nuclear reactor. When the nuclear chain reaction is stopped and the reactor shuts down, the fuel is still producing about 6 percent as much heat as it did when it was running, caused by continuing radioactivity, the release of subatomic particles and of gamma rays.
Usually when a reactor is first shut down, an electric pump pulls heated water from the vessel to a heat exchanger, and cool water from a river or ocean is brought in to draw off that heat.
But at the Japanese reactors, after losing electric power, that system could not be used. Instead the operators are dumping seawater into the vessel and letting it cool the fuel by boiling. But as it boils, pressure rises too high to pump in more water, so they have to vent the vessel to the atmosphere, and feed in more water, a procedure known as “feed and bleed.”
When the fuel was intact, the steam they were releasing had only modest amounts of radioactive material, in a nontroublesome form. With damaged fuel, that steam is getting dirtier.