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Tracking Radiation from Fukushima

by gmoke Wed Apr 4th, 2012 at 11:44:26 PM EST

Scientists Track Radioactive Iodine in New Hampshire from Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown

Testing in New Hampshire's Mink Brook watershed during March through May 2011 resulted in calculating radioactive iodine deposition in the soil at a  total amount  around 6,000 atoms per square meter. Dartmouth research associate Joshua Landis commented that "at these levels, it is unlikely that this is going to cause measurable health consequences."  The amount in stream sediments was double the amount in soil but should be reduced by river and stream dilution.

This radiactive waste from Fukushima consists of iodine-131, "highly radioactive, acutely toxic" with a half-life of about 8 days, and iodine-29, less radioactive but with a half-life of 15.7 million years.  "Due to its long half-life and continued release from ongoing nuclear energy production, [iodine-129] is perpetually accumulating in the environment and poses a growing radiological risk," the authors of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report point out.  A nuclear reactor produces 3 parts iodine-131 to one part iodine-129.  "Once the iodine-131 decays, you lose your ability to track the migration of either isotope."

hat tip clamshellalliance.org


The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has created a prototype "Super-wide Angle Compton Camera" capable of creating images of gamma ray-emitting radioactive particles. This equipment is based on the gamma ray-observing sensor technology to be added to the next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H. It is expected to be able to create visual images of radioactive particles that have collected at high altitudes such as building roofs where it is difficult to conduct measurements with existing survey meters. Taking advantage of its wide vision (180-degree) capability as well as its ability to distinguish gamma rays from nuclides, it can create images of Cesium 137 (Cs-137) and Cesium 134 (Cs-134) that have widely dispersed on the ground and residential houses. (Attachment-1)

On February 11, 2012, JAXA, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) conducted a field test of the dose measurement and imaging survey using the "Super-wide Angle Compton Camera" at Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture. The results yielded the successful image capturing of the dispersed radio-cesium over a much broader area and to a higher degree of accuracy in comparison with existing gamma cameras. (Attachment-2)

hat tip treehugger.com

We need a zero emissions society and culture, especially where such long-lived pollutants are concerned.

Sidestepping the Impasse:  Zero Emissions to Ecological Design
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/09/17/902951/-Sidestepping-the-Impasse-Zero-Emissions-to-Ecologic al-Design

More radiation monitoring?
. yes 75%
. no 12%
. not yes 12%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 8
Results | Other Polls
BS, sheer propaganda. I see no need to refute it, since it makes no quantifiable statements.

How many atoms total? What units are health risks measured in, and what rank does this attain, compared to radon, cigarettes, car crashes, pollution from fossil fuel electricity, etc etc etc.

It all sounds so scary until you think about it like a serious scientist.

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 03:57:44 AM EST
I would think that 6000 atoms per square meter is quantitative. Now more information is wellcome, but since it was not an article for general public consumption, there is no reason for the original article to deal with the rest of the data you ask, and I dont't expect gmoke to be in a position to give them.

res humà m'és aliè
by Antoni Jaume on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 07:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To boot, the unquantified statements without explicit comparisons come up in a context that is the opposite than what ormondotvos appears to have sensed when speaking of propaganda and scaremongering: they say "at these levels, it is unlikely that this is going to cause measurable health consequences" and what was found "should be reduced by river and stream dilution" (not mentioning that local accumulation is also a possibility).

The key points of the story are: short-halflife Iodine-131 can be used as a marker for the spread of Fukushima fallout globally (it decays so fast that even Chernobyl or nuclear test Iodine-131 is undetectable, not to mention natural sources); and the fallout also included longer-halflife Iodine-129, which accumulated after the previous fallouts. But to me there is little that is new in this, other than the quantification for one given spot.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 07:19:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, I just read a related news.

Back in 2007, I wrote about the first major study by Germany's Federal Office for Radiation Protection establishing a statistically significant link between nuclear plant locations and child cancer rates. At the time, the study-makers were perplexed that a health effect arose at general radiation levels orders of magnitudes below where one would expect it.

Now there is a suggestion that the phenomenon might be related to transient events: the escape of radioactive isotopes (in particular Iodine-131, but also noble gases) in gaseous state during the refuelling of the reactors. But data for analysis is hard to come by: the linked taz article (in German) mentions a request to the controlling ministry for half-hourly radiation measurements at one plant, but they only got data with quartal(!) resolution.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 03:50:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I quote:

"hat tip treehugger.com

We need a zero emissions society and culture, especially where such long-lived pollutants are concerned."

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Fri Apr 6th, 2012 at 10:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In what way is that a reaction to anything I said, or a justification of anything you said?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Apr 7th, 2012 at 01:58:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not understand why mentioning the presence of radioactive compounds from Fukushima is ipso facto scary.  Wasn't trying to scare anyone.  Wasn't scared myself by the information.  I find it interesting that these remnants of the latest nuclear accident are detectable in the Eastern USA and that scientists are studying them.

Sorry if I scared you.  The sources are referenced in the piece if you want to check my interpretation.

The new gamma camera may be useful.  Hope that doesn't scare you as well.

How do you define "our nature"?  Lots of wiggle room there.  In all probability, culture is already aligned with "our nature" as we were the ones who built it.

On all kinds of baby purpose, you invented whoever
you think you  are.  Out of ingredients you couldn't
choose, by a process you can't control.
from "Entire Sermon by the Red Monk" by Lew Welch

That baby purpose, the ingredients we didn't choose, and the process we can't control apply to culture as well.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 04:52:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As more reactors fail, or if there's another disruption at Fukushima (say, an earthquake that causes a containment vessel failure), more monitoring will be needed. Up to now, probably not a big deal.

Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but the Skapa Flow, north of Scotland, was the site of a mass sinking of WW1 German ships. Most of them were salvaged, but there's still a business in recovering steel bits from them for the purpose of constructing scientific instruments where steel is required that does not have radioactivity from the atomic bomb era. All modern steel (and everything else) is radioactive.

6000 atoms doesn't sound like many to me...

by asdf on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 07:35:44 PM EST
Certain techniques and devices require very low radiation materials. Geiger counters, medical applications (Whole body counting and Lung counters) and physics applications (photonics) frequently require an extremely low radiation environment, called a Low background counting chamber. A low background counting chamber is a room built with extremely heavy radiation shielding made from low-background steel.

Naval vessels constructed prior to the Cold War are a primary source of low-background steel. Chief among these are reserve fleets and the German fleet scuttled at Scapa Flow.

World anthropogenic background radiation levels peaked at 0.15 mSv in 1963, the year that the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was enacted. Since then, anthropogenic background radiation has decreased exponentially to 0.005 mSv per year.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 8th, 2012 at 08:05:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bomb fission has an extermely hard (fast) neutron spectrum, so relatively few long lived isotopes are formed. Thus the steep dropoff. in another ca 350 years, almost all of the decay chains will have run to completion, and the only readily detectable isotope will be technetium.
The fact that we deploy soft spectrum fission in power generation is kind of daft - The very long term toxicity of nuclear waste is wholly a product of the fact that most reactors use thermalized neutrons.  
by Thomas on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 06:02:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet another argument for fast reactors, breeder or not, I suppose?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 06:11:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except the western nuclear industry seems to operate with a scavenger mentality. They will fight to the death to keep their old reactors running until they break down, try to sell the exact same thing with additional ribbons but have mostly given up on long term development.
by generic on Mon Apr 9th, 2012 at 08:21:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Doomsday porn on Japanese morning TV (h/t Naked Capitalism)

by das monde on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 11:44:22 AM EST
Good catch.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 09:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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