Radiation levels here in California have started to climb. Not much, they say, but a little.
If winds can bring the poisons here in just one week, they can't have ALSO "dispersed" the poison all that much! They didn't swirl and bifurcate and head all over the place. They just raced across the ocean, and here they are, bumping into the California coastline.
Thanks, GE. Thanks, TEPCO, Thanks, IAEA et al.
In one week a lot of the "fallout" would not have fallen out yet. There's sure to still be a lot of radioactive dust in the air, and we don't know where it will end up exactly. There may or may not be a Geiger counter nearby to measure it. And even with a good Geiger counter, a lot of the danger will be in the form of small particulates, and unless the Geiger counter just happens to be aimed right at those sources, it won't find them.
We all take our chances with everything we eat, drink, and breath after an accident like this.
If 3,000 Americans die over the next 20 years because of the unfolding tragedy at Fukushima Dai-ichi, that would be less than one in 100,000 people. You could not prove a single one of those deaths was caused by Fukushima, though. Even ten times that -- 30,000 -- would be hard if not impossible to prove scientifically.
In one sense, everyone should be angry, and several of the emails and calls I've been getting show a lot of emotion: "Ooooh, I HATE General Electric!!" one caller told me, for instance. "I'M ANGRY!" another said, asking me what to do to shut San Onofre down. I don't know. Contact our Senators and demand shut-down, not just more investigations and studies and reports, I guess!
In any event, anger is as useless an emotion as panic is. It appears the reactor operators may have panicked again and again as they tried to fight the fires, the spewing radioactivity, the dropping coolant levels, the cracking pipes, and the general mayhem at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear killing fields. They left a leaking spent fuel pool unattended and THAT's when the trouble REALLY started... I mean, things were bad before, but that's what pushed things over the edge: Simple negligence in the face of overwhelming stress.
Who says that can't happen here?
Who can possibly say that people as unprepared as San Onofre's operators are (they believe the "unthinkable" can't happen) will do the right thing and stay calm, and stay at their posts, when things beyond what THEY ever dreamed of, start to happen?
Discovery Online quoted Stephen Mahin, director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center at UC Berkeley, on the danger from underwater landslides nearby: "You have these big cliffs and those can cause local tsunamis which are far bigger than the distant ones," Mahin said. "But those are extremely hard to predict."
Who trusts ANYONE to know the odds now?
The nuclear disaster in Japan is utterly tragic beyond words. The words I've been finding only barely begin to describe the horror the Japanese people, and the rest of us to lesser degrees, are really facing.
985,000 dead from Chernobyl: That's the scientific opinion. And they didn't die easy. Cancer and other radiation diseases are notoriously painful, difficult to treat, and expensive, too.
Is Fukushima Dai-ichi worse than Chernobyl already? The spent fuel pools are burning, so the answer appears to this writer to be "yes" although so far, most "experts" still say no. Or they say, "Not yet." Or they say we don't have enough data. But the chief of TEPCO wept after he gave a news conference this morning. That should tell you something.
Waiting for clean air (but not holding his breath) in:
Could a nuclear accident like what happened in Japan happen here? YES. Here's Linda Gunter, Beyond Nuclear, discussing GE Mark 1s and other dangerous nuclear reactors:
Is Fukushima Dai-ichi worse than Chernobyl? Not according to the IAEA, as explained below. But then, according to the IAEA, Chernobyl itself was only about 1% as bad as Chernobyl REALLY was!
From: Radiation Bulletin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [Radbull] IAEA INES ratings
The IAEA made the following report on the INES ratings for Fukushima:
The INES scale goes from 1-7. As can be seen by this just detailed wikipedia definition/description of the scale, we have a long way to go before the chernobyl scale hits, except for one thing. We are looking at three INES 3 events and three INES 5 simultaneous events, So this is an example of a scenario that the IAEA has never properly defined in the context of what happens with so many reactors all reaching such a serious level. Personally, I'm surprised that the IAEA hasn't listed some kind of combined rating for this, or that they haven't challenged the spent fuel rating.
Japan Earthquake Update (18 March 2011, 10:15 UTC)
Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA that new INES ratings have been issued for some of the events relating to the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants.
Japanese authorities have assessed that the core damage at the Fukushima Daiichi 2 and 3 reactor Units caused by loss of all cooling function has been rated as 5 on the INES scale.
Japanese authorities have assessed that the loss of cooling and water supplying functions in the spent fuel pool of the Unit 4 reactor has been rated as 3.
Japanese authorities have assessed that the loss of cooling functions in the reactor Units 1, 2 and 4 of the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant has also been rated as 3. All reactor Units at Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant are now in a cold shut down condition.
Addition of 12:45 UTC
Japanese authorities have assessed that the core damage at the Fukushima Daiichi 1 reactor unit caused by the loss of all cooling function has been rated as 5 on the INES scale.
Radiation from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reaches California; experts: no health risk
BY Nancy Dillon
DAILY NEWS WEST COAST BUREAU CHIEF
Originally Published: Friday, March 18th 2011, 3:41 PM
Updated: Friday, March 18th 2011, 3:49 PM
Trace amounts of radiation from Japan's nuclear crisis have reportedly reached California - but they're nowhere near hazardous levels.
"(They're) about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening," a diplomat with access to radiation tracking by the U.N.'s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization told the Associated Press.
The diplomat in Vienna said the initial reading came from an unnamed measuring station operated by the CTBTO, apparently in Sacramento.
Experts agree that any fallout wafting 5,500 miles across the Pacific to California will be too diluted to pose a health risk.
"It would be less than one microsievert," Dr. Keisuke Iwamoto, a radiation biologist at UCLA, told the Daily News. "To give you some perspective, a chest x-ray might be 100 microsieverts."
Still, some jittery residents are hoarding anti-radiation pills and fretting over the invisible threat as weather systems beat a path between the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant and California.
"We've sold maybe 40 or 50 personal radiation detectors to people in California," Al Evan, the CEO of Security Pro USA in Los Angeles, told the Daily News. "Even though the radiation threat is minute, people are very concerned. We sold about a thousand packets of potassium iodide pills in two days. We're sold out."
California officials, meanwhile, said they're screening locally produced milk for any radiation contamination transmitted by grass-eating cows.
It's a precautionary measure, they said, since harmful levels are not expected to affect the milk supply.
An estimated 4,000 kids developed thyroid cancer after consuming milk contaminated with radioactive iodine after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
March 18, 2011
Please consider the following federal government assessments of radiation dangers. (below)
Every U.S. agency that regulates radiation exposure agrees that there is no safe dose no matter how small. There are only "allowable" doses or "legally permitted doses." Today radiobiologists all agree that "one can no longer speak of a 'safe' dose level." (Ian Fairlie & Marvin Resnikoff, "No dose too low," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Nov/Dec 1997, p. 54)
Following are the official U.S. government assessments:
National Council on Radiation Protection
"… every increment of radiation exposure produces an incremental increase in the risk of cancer." (National Council on Radiation Protection, "Evaluation of the Linear-Non-threshold Dose-Response Model for Ionizing Radiation," NCRP report 136, Bethesda, MD, June 4, 2001, cited in Science for Democratic Action, IEER, June 2005)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
"Current evidence suggests that any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk." (U.S. EPA, "Radiation: Risks & Realities," Air & Radiation, 6602J, EPA 402-K-92-004, Aug. 1993)
U.S. Department of Energy
"[T]he effects of low levels of radiation are more difficult to determine because the major effect is a very slight increase in cancer risk. However, U.S. Government regulations assume that the effects of all radiation exposures are cumulative and should be limited as much as reasonably possible." (DOE/NE-0074, "Understanding Radiation," p. 8 & 9. <http://www.ne.doe.gov/pdfFiles/UNDERRAD.PDF>)
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"[T]he 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. A linear no-threshold dose-response relationship is used to describe the relationship between radiation dose and the occurrence of cancer. … any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk." (U.S. NRC, "How Does Radiation Affect the Public?" www.nrc.gov/what-we-do/radiation/affect.html)
National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Science's ... committee further judges it unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers..." ( National Academy of Sciences, "Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII, Phase 2," Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, National Research Council, June 29, 2005)
On 3/18/2011 3:46 PM, Roger Herried wrote:
I was appalled at Jaczko's press briefing yesterday when asked point blank how many nuclear reactors in the US were near faults...
Instead of answering the question he said that all reactors near faults designed withstand both quakes and tsunami events. If I'd been in the room, I would have had to be arrested to keep me from jumping on top of that SOB...
There was no followup question as to whether or not this country's evacuation plans would do any better than Japan's.
In 1986, after the Chernobyl disaster California ordered all nuclear reactors to evaluate their evacuation plans. I have the transcripts of that investigation... Of course, it was the Chernobyl disaster that launched the campaign that ended up with a public vote that shut down the Rancho Seco reactor near Sacramento California...
But there were several rather stark issues, not to mention the recently posted article that PG&E was allowed to go ahead without even having a real evacuation plan in place. More on this later...
The transcripts at San Onofre were especially telling. By the way San Onofre is just south of downtown Los Angeles, near Camp Pendleton Marine base, the home of Dick Nixon and actually a lot closer to San Diego than Tokyo is to Fukushima.
The first thing all the mayors, police, fire, CHP and regional officials were told that they would do a walk through rather than a test of the evacuation because a real test would be economically nonviable, as well as the fact that since there was never a chance of this happening that everyone would just do a verbal walk through together of a possible scenario.
Probably the most telling and insane piece came almost at the beginning when everyone in the room was told that the official plan called for everyone within 10 miles of San Onofre would be required to evacuate according to NRC requirements that people beyond this would told to stay in place and take shelter. He then told them that The California Highway Patrol (CHP) would be blocking all entrance and exits in the 50 mile radius around San Onofre so that people the closest could leave... Immediately after he said this a mayor of a city just outside the 10 mile evacuation zone spoke up and said that if this was the plan then the first people to die would be the CHP!
About the Diablo Canyon Nuclear facility:
1. The reactors at Diablo were the most fought over anti-nuclear battle ever, having been opposed by the local chapter of the Sierra Club since it was proposed in 1963. The Sierra Club national headquarters, which had been bribed by PG&E, ordered the San Luis Obispo chapter not to oppose Diablo, so instead they formed a new group to do so with their primary concern being faultlines, based on the memory that a major quake in 1927 destroyed a nearby city.
There were allegations from the start that PG&E covered up the fact that the reactors were located 2.2 miles from the Hosgri faultline because they had just gone through the nations first anti-nuclear battle between 1958-63 over their attempt to build 4 reactors less than 1000 feet from the 1906 quake line that destroyed San Francisco. Students within the Sierra Club played a major role in forcing PG&E from stopping construction of the complex leaving behind an 8 million dollar duck pond at Bodega Bay. The wife of the president of the Sierra Club was elected onto PG&E's board for her work in getting Diablo Canyon sited. This major scandal would play a major roll in David Brower quitting the club and forming Friends of the Earth.
The state and the federal government refused to listen to local concerns about the faultline until an LA journalist discovered reports of the faultline in 1972, which forced PG&E to rebuild the reactors. PG&E was then forced to rebuild them again in 1981 after the Abalone Alliance's blockade, when a newly hired 25 year old engineer discovered that PG&E had built the seismic supports backward. It would not be until 1985 and 5.8 billion dollars (the original estimated costs was less than 350 million for both reactors) that the units would be ready to go online. One of the NRC Commissioners would leak the NRC transcripts to a local TV station showing that the NRC commission considered earthquakes to be on a par with snow or rain when they let PG&E go ahead with operation. Those leaked transcripts then resulted in a legal challenge by the Mothers for Peace that would go on until April 25th 1986 when none other than Robert Bork (of Nixon's infamous Saturday night massacre) made the ruling that looking at the leaked transcripts would be judicial activism so he refused to look at the leak transcripts that detailed the illegal NRC failure to take in seismic dangers.
But the real battle still didn't really end even after over 22 years in 1985, as there would then be 4 more years of hearings by the state of California as to how much the public would pay for them. The state government under democratic control at the time promised that only 2.2 billion of the 5.8 should ever be passed on. However, the next year, the republicans gained control of the state government and immediately replaced most of the PUC's leadership, resulting in PG&E getting everything it wanted. During the hearings I was able discover the fact that PG&E which was unable to get loans from anywhere in the world after the 1981 fiasco, was secretly given over $2.2 billion in loans from the Environmental Protection Agency by order of Reagan... The massive rate increase that followed the full ratebasing would nearly double California electric rates, that in turn led to a revolt that in turn led to the deregulation of electric industry that of course led to the 2001 energy crisis...
For anyone wanting to see a more detailed history of California's anti-nuclear history here's a link.
On 3/18/2011 10:24 AM, satellitejam wrote:
NRC asked to review safety of San Onofre and Diablo Canyon
This comes just after California's two Senate Democrats, Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, sent a letter to NRC chief Gregory Jaczko, asking the agency to review the safety of two plants located on the San Andreas Fault the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located in San Clemente, and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near San Luis Obispo.
And in a letter to President Obama on Sunday, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, questioned whether the United States is prepared to respond to a nuclear disaster.
"I am concerned that based on reports, it appears no agency sees itself as clearly in command of emergency response to a nuclear disaster," Markey wrote.
Entire article here: