2.5 Years After Fukushima Nuke disaster Still Deadly in the U.S.!

***3-10-13 UPDATE***
Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation

Tracy Loew, USA TODAY
12 hours ago

SALEM, Ore. -- Very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster likely will reach ocean waters along the U.S. West Coast next month, scientists are reporting.

Current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won't harm humans or the environment, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who presented research on the issue last week.

But Buesseler and other scientists are calling for more monitoring. No federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation, he said.

"I'm not trying to be alarmist," Buesseler said. "We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it's safe?"

The news comes three years after the devastating Japan tsunami and resulting nuclear accident.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami with waves as high as 133 feet. More than 15,000 people died and about 6,000 were injured.

The earthquake and tsunami knocked out power to cooling pumps at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, causing meltdowns at three reactors.

Last July, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, acknowledged for the first time that the reactor was leaking contaminated underground water into the ocean.

Since then, the news has gotten worse, and there is widespread suspicion that the problem is underreported.

There are three competing models of the Fukushima radiation plume, differing in amount and timing. But all predict that the plume will reach the West Coast this summer, and the most commonly cited one estimates an April arrival, Buesseler said.

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium 134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

Cesium 134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima, Buesseler said.

"The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast," Buesseler said.

By the time it gets here, the material will be so diluted as to be almost negligible, the models predict. Radiation also decays. Cesium 134, for example, has a half-life of two years, meaning it will have half its original intensity after that period.

In Oregon, state park rangers take quarterly samples of surf water and sand at three locations along the coast. The water is analyzed for Cesium 137 and iodine 131. Both of those already exist in the ocean at low levels from nuclear testing decades ago.

The monitoring began in April 2012, when tsunami debris began arriving along the Oregon coast. So far, all of the tests have shown less than "minimum detectable activity," or the least amount that can be measured.

Results of the most recent samples, taken in mid-February, won't be available until mid-March, Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said.

Washington does not test ocean water for radiation.

"We have none happening now and we have none planned," said Tim Church, communications director for the Washington State Department of Health. "Typically that would be something that would happen on the federal level."

California regularly samples seawater around the state's nuclear power plants to determine whether the plants are impacting the environment. Those results all are below minimum detectable activity.

Some citizens and scientists are taking sampling into their own hands.

Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Steven Manley has launched "Kelp Watch 2014," which will partner with other organizations to monitor kelp all along the West Coast for Fukushima radiation.

And Buesseler recently offered the services of his lab at Woods Hole in Massachusetts.

His project — titled "How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?" — will use crowd-sourced money and volunteers to collect water samples along the Pacific Coast, then ship them across the country to be analyzed.

So far, results are in for two locations in Washington and three in California. They show that the plume has not yet reached the coast.

Meanwhile, West Coast states are winding down their tsunami debris response efforts.

Oregon's coastline is seeing less debris from the tsunami this winter than in the past two years, Oregon State Parks spokesman Chris Havel said.

If that doesn't change, officials likely will disband a task force that was mobilized to deal with the debris.

Last year, Washington suspended its marine debris reporting hotline.

Loew also reports for the (Salem, Ore.) Statesman Journal

***Aug 13, 2013    UPDATE***  http://inventorspot.com/articles/radiation_levels_said_rise_california_find_out_about_your_town

Radiation Levels Said to Rise In California: Find Out About Your Town

- See more at: http://inventorspot.com/articles/radiation_levels_said_rise_california_find_out_about_your_town#sthash.QNAKQPKq.dpuf

Radiation Levels Were Originally Said to Be On the Rise As a Result of Devastation in JapanRadiation Levels Were Originally Said to Be On the Rise As a Result of Devastation in Japan
The Associated Press reported Friday that radioactive fallout from Japan's damaged nuclear reactors had made its way to Southern California; however, radiation readings appeared low enough that they did not pose a health threat.  Later that day, the Southeast Air Quality Management District said there was no increase in radiation.  In fact, AQMD spokeswoman Tina Cherry said, "There's no risk detected through the monitor."
As an East-Coaster whose never given radiation levels much thought, the news about rising levels in Cali (and then not rising) made me think--what are the effects of high radiation levels?   What's considered a dangerously high level of radiation?  And do I even know what the radiation levels are in my area?
The NRC Presents Facts About RadiationThe NRC Presents Facts About RadiationAccording to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "Radiation is all around us."  Our environment naturally possesses some radiation, which comes from outer space, the ground, and even our own bodies.  What's more, radiation levels can vary from one location to another depending on factors such as altitude.  "About half of the total annual average U.S. individual's radiation exposure comes from natural sources," says the NRC.  "The other half is from diagnostic medical procedures."  
The NRC says that low level exposure to radiation has biological effects so small they are undetectable because the body has repair mechanisms that protect against any damage.  However, damaged cells could potentially incorrectly repair themselves, resulting in a biophysical change.  Furthermore, an association exists between high levels of radiation and cancer.  "Cancers associated with high-dose exposure (greater than 50,000 mrem) include leukemia, breast, bladder, colon, liver, lung, esophagus, ovarian, multiple myeloma, and stomach cancers," says the NRC.  However, no data proves the unequivocal occurrence of cancer following low doses of radiation.  "Low doses" are considered to be those that are less than 10,000 mrem--spread out over many years.  
Sources of Radiation in the U.S. are 50% Naturally Occurring Says NRCSources of Radiation in the U.S. are 50% Naturally Occurring Says NRC
Normal background radiation levels in the environment should be anywhere from 5 to 60 counts per minute (CPM).  Fortunately, online geiger counters are available, which report to the public the radiation levels in most locations throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states.  One is the Radiation Network, at www.radiationnetwork.com, presented by Mineralab, LLC.  Here, you can also find links that will take you to geiger maps of Japan, Alaska, and Hawaii.  The radiation level where I live is currently about 35, which is interestingly higher than central California's current 29.  Within minutes, the radition level in my area rose to 37, and central California went down to 19.  
Radiation Network's Geiger Map on March 19, 5:24 Eastern Time: www.radiationnetwork.comRadiation Network's Geiger Map on March 19, 5:24 Eastern Time: www.radiationnetwork.com
However, Radiation Network doesn't report southern California, where the radiation was originally said to be on the rise.  For southern Californian's concerned about radiation levels, a good site to check out is Enviro Reporter's streaming video footage of radiation monitors in West LA.
Sources: LA Times and NRC 

Amanda Hinski
Environmental Innovations Blogger
- See more at: http://inventorspot.com/articles/radiation_levels_said_rise_california_find_out_about_your_town#sthash.QNAKQPKq.dpuf

Radioactive Water Leaks from Fukushima: What We Know

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.
Credit: TEPCO
Here is what you need to know about the radioactive water leaking from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists on both sides of the Pacific have measured changing levels of radioactivity in fish and other ocean life since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. On Aug. 2, 2013, when Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) gave its first estimate of how much radioactive water from the nuclear plant has flowed into the ocean since the disaster, the company was finally facing up to what scientists have recognized for years.

"As an oceanographer looking at the reactor, we've known this since 2011," said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Woods Hole, Mass. "The news is TEPCO is finally admitting this."
TEPCO estimated that between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels (units of radioactivity representing decay per second) of radioactive tritium have leaked into the ocean since the disaster, according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. The Fukushima plant is still leaking about 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day, according to Japanese government officials. [Infographic: Inside Japan's Nuclear Reactors]
Japan is haunted by two lingering questions from this aftermath of the disaster: First, how the radioactivity might seriously contaminate ocean life that represents a source of seafood for humans; second, whether it can stop the leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant.
Radioactivity is not created equal
The Fukushima plant is leaking much less contaminated water today compared with the immediate aftermath of the nuclear meltdown in June 2011 — a period when scientists measured 5,000 to 15,000 trillion becquerels of radioactive substances reaching the ocean. Even if radioactivity levels in the groundwater have spiked recently, as reported by Japanese news sources, Buesseler expects the overall amount to remain lower than during the June 2011 period.
"The amount of increase is still much smaller today than it was in 2011," Buesseler told LiveScience. "I'm not as concerned about the immediate health threat of human exposure, but I am worried about contamination of marine life in the long run."
The biggest threat in the contaminated water that flowed directly from Fukushima's reactors into the sea in June 2011 was huge quantities of the radionuclide called cesium. But the danger has changed over time as groundwater became the main source for leaks into the ocean. Soil can naturally absorb the cesium in groundwater, but other radionuclides, such as strontium and tritium, flow more freely through the soil into the ocean. (TEPCO is still coming up with estimates for how much strontium has reached the ocean.)
Satellite image of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant three days after the March 2011 earthquake struck.
Credit: GeoEye
Tritium represents the lowest radioactive threat to ocean life and humans compared with cesium and strontium. Cesium’s radioactiveenergy is greater than tritium, but both it and tritium flow in and out of human and fish bodies relatively quickly. By comparison,strontium poses a greater danger because it replaces the calcium in bones and stays for much longer in the body.
Not fishing for trouble
A number of fish species caught off the coast of the Fukushima Prefecture in 2011 and 2012 hadlevels of cesium contamination greater than Japan's regulatory limit for seafood (100 becquerels per kilogram), but both U.S. and Japanese scientists have also reported a significant drop in overall cesium contamination of ocean life since the fall of 2011. The biggest contamination risks came from bottom-dwelling fish near the Fukushima site. [In Photos: Fukushima Butterflies Plagued With Defects]
The radioactive groundwater leaks could still become worse in the future if TEPCO does not contain the problem, U.S. scientists say. But they cautioned against drawing firm conclusions about the latest impacts on ocean life until new peer-reviewed studies come out.
"For fish that are harvested 100 miles [160 kilometers] out to sea, I doubt it’d be a problem," said Nicholas Fisher, a marine biologist at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. "But in the region, yes, it's possible there could be sufficient contamination of local seafood so it'd be unwise to eat that seafood."
The overall contamination of ocean life by the Fukushima meltdown still remains very low compared with the effects of naturally occurring radioactivity and leftover contamination from U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. Fisher said he’d be "shocked" if the ongoing leaks of contaminated water had a significant impact on the ocean ecosystems.
Source of radioactive water
TEPCO is facing two huge issues in stopping the radioactive water leaks. First, groundwater from nearby mountains is becoming contaminated as it flows through the flooded basements of the Fukushima plant's reactor buildings. The water empties into the nuclear plant's man-made harbor at a rate of about 400 tons per day — and TEPCO has struggled to keep the water from leaking beyond existing barriers into the ocean.
"This water issue is going to be their biggest challenge for a long time," said Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "It was a challenge for the U.S. during Three Mile Island [a partial nuclear meltdown in Pennsylvania on March 28, 1979], and this one is much more challenging."
Second, TEPCO must also deal with contaminated water from underground tunnels and pits that hold cables and pipes for the Fukushima nuclear plant’s emergency systems. The underground areas became flooded with highly radioactive water during the initial meltdown of the Fukushima plant’s reactors, and have since leaked water into the ocean despite TEPCO’s efforts to seal off the tunnels and pits.
TEPCO has also been racing to deal with the problem of storing hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, said Hiroaki Koide, a nuclear engineer at Kyoto University in Japan. The Japanese utility is testing a water decontamination system called ALPS that can remove almost all radioactive substances except for tritium, but has put much of the contaminated water in storage tanks in the meantime.
"The tanks are an emergency solution that is not suitable for long-time storage," Koide said. "Water will leak from any tank, and if that happens, it will merge with the groundwater."
What must be done
So what solutions exist beyond building more storage tanks? Klein reviewed a number of possible solutions with TEPCO when he was picked to head an independent advisory committee investigating theFukushima nuclear accident.
One possible solution involves using refrigerants to freeze the ground around the Fukushima plant and create a barrier that stops the inflow of groundwater from the mountains. TEPCO is also considering a plan to inject a gel-like material into the ground that hardens into an artificial barrier similar to concrete, so that it can stop the contaminated groundwater from flowing into the ocean.
Such barriers could help hold the line while TEPCO pumped out the water, treated it with purification systems such as ALPS, and then figured out how to finally dispose of the decontaminated water.
"My priority would be stop the leak from the tunnel immediately," Klein said. "Number two would be to come up with a plan to stop the inflow and infiltration of groundwater. Number three is to come up with an integrated systematic water treatment plan."
Meanwhile, both Japanese and U.S. scientists continue to gather fresh scientific data on how the radioactivity impacts ocean life. Despite low contamination levels overall, studies have shown great differences in certain species depending on where they live and feed in the ocean.
"The most straightforward thing the Japanese can do now is measure the radionuclides in fish tissue, both at the bottom of the ocean and up in the water column at different distances from the release of contaminated groundwater," Fisher said.
You can follow Jeremy Hsu on Twitter @jeremyhsu. Follow us@livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

***OCT. 29, 2012 UPDATE*** ( READ MORE HERE):  http://michaeldtobin.blogspot.com/2011/08/week-of-hurricane-irene-and-east-coast.html    ... Here's a link from the USGS explaining how long distant earthquakes effect ground water thousands of miles away:  Clik link to read more: http://gallery.usgs.gov/audios/396 And here is the cut/paste of the article in case it disapears from the website: Waves Rippling Through Groundwater
Kara Capelli: Welcome to USGS CoreCast. I'm your host, Kara Capelli. Earthquakes near or far can affect you and the water resources you depend on. For example, the magnitude 9.0 earthquake on the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, affected water levels and groundwater wells monitored by the USGS all over the United States, in places like Oklahoma, Missouri and even as far as Virginia and Florida.
I spoke with Evelyn Roeloffs, a USGS research geophysicist who has studied the effects of earthquakes on groundwater.
Evelyn Roeloffs: Generally, the main way they affect groundwater is that they cause the ground to expand and contract. And the seismic wave that these earthquakes generate actually cause the ground to expand and contract as they pass by. They can travel around the globe a couple of times actually and be recorded on sensitive seismic instruments. So, when those seismic waves pass through, you can see changes in groundwater levels.
Kara Capelli: Scientists and others have been noticing the effects of earthquakes on groundwater for a long time.
Evelyn Roeloffs: I think one of the neatest examples is from back in about 1952, when it was noticed that in a well in a shoe factory in Milwaukee, the water would slosh up and down every so often. And when they put a float recorder on there, and actually made a continuous record of the water level, they recorded things that actually looked like seismograms. And they saw that those variations were actually caused by seismic waves passing the well.
Kara Capelli: The most common effect on groundwater from earthquakes is an instantaneous water level increase or decrease. Recovery to the pre-earthquake level can be so rapid that no change is even detected. I also asked Evelyn about the effects of earthquakes on groundwater quality and quantity.
Evelyn Roeloffs: The spikes themselves, if you actually measure them quickly enough for actual oscillations, where they're making water move in and out of the aquifer and into the well, that can cause the water to become turbid or taste a little bit funny, which doesn't usually last more than a few days, at the most. Occasionally, it will happen that the groundwater level will go down and stay down or go up and stay up but usually not more than a foot or so.
And so, in the short run it might affect the amount of water you can get, depending on exactly where your pump is. But usually, those changes are small compared to the normal changes during the year associated with rainfall and temperature and stuff like that.
Kara Capelli: Though in general, these spikes have very little noticeable effects, sometimes groundwater very near to the epicenter of an earthquake can be permanently affected.
Evelyn Roeloffs: Closer to the earthquake, the effects can be much more severe. And one thing that has happened a couple of times in the U.S. is that the earthquake shaking shakes the hill up and fractures things a little bit and makes it more permeable, so that if people have domestic wells drilled near the top of the hill, they'll find that the water level in those wells may slowly drop. And then, at the same time, the flows in the streams that are draining the hill will increase.
And those kinds of changes really don't recover. They can result in changes of several feet or tens of feet of water. And so, it may cause a well to need to be deepened or even just abandoned. And this happened after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California near Santa Cruz. And there is also a case of this happening in Pennsylvania a number of years back.
Kara Capelli: The USGS Groundwater Resources Program monitors groundwater across the U.S. through real-time groundwater monitoring. This data can be found at waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/gw. And don't forget to follow the USGS on Twitter at twitter.com/usgs. I'm Kara Capelli for USGS CoreCast, a product of the US Geological Survey, Department of the Interior. Read more of article here: http://michaeldtobin.blogspot.com/2011/08/week-of-hurricane-irene-and-east-coast.html 

December 21, 2011

14,000 U.S. Dead in 14 Weeks After Fukushima Meltdown (copied, before article disapears)

The arrival of a radioactive plume over the United States following the March 11 disaster was downplayed by the establishment media despite the presence of levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal...

Posted by  on Dec 21st, 2011

A peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Health Services estimates 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear reactors. The article by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman is the first published in a medical journal.
“This study of Fukushima health hazards is the first to be published in a scientific journal. It raises concerns, and strongly suggests that health studiescontinue, to understand the true impact of Fukushima in Japan and around the world. Findings are important to the current debate of whether to build new reactors, and how long to keep aging ones in operation,” writes Joseph Mangano, who is an epidemiologist.
The authors write that that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks following the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. Most of the deaths occurred among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks, the authors note.
The arrival of a radioactive plume over the United States following the March 11 disaster was downplayed by the establishment media despite the presence of levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal.
The highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water): Boise, ID (390); Kansas City (200); Salt Lake City (190); Jacksonville, FL (150); Olympia, WA (125); and Boston, MA (92), according to a press release posted on December 19 by Joseph Mangano, Janette Sherman and the International Journal of Health Services.
“Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults,” said Janette Sherman, an adjunct professor at Western Michigan University, and contributing editor of “Chernobyl – Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment” published by the NY Academy of Sciences in 2009.
The health impact of the radiation released from Fukushima was downplayed by the Japanese and U.S. governments. “The United States came up with a decision to downplay Fukushima,” said Arnie Gundersen, a energy advisor veteran with 39 years of experience as a nuclear power engineer. “The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima,” he said. “Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that she agreed there is no problem with Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy them so we are not sampling food coming in from Japan.”

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