Tag Archives | Radiation

Radiation Detected In Drinking Water Across The U.S.

Radiation warning symbolJeff McMahon writes for Forbes:

Radiation from Japan has been detected in drinking water in 13 more American cities, and cesium-137 has been found in American milk—in Montpelier, Vermont—for the first time since the Japan nuclear disaster began, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency late Friday.

Milk samples from Phoenix and Los Angeles contained iodine-131 at levels roughly equal to the maximum contaminant level permitted by EPA, the data shows. The Phoenix sample contained 3.2 picoCuries per liter of iodine-131. The Los Angeles sample contained 2.9. The EPA maximum contaminant level is 3.0, but this is a conservative standard designed to minimize exposure over a lifetime, so EPA does not consider these levels to pose a health threat.

The cesium-137 found in milk in Vermont is the first cesium detected in milk since the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear accident occurred last month. The sample contained 1.9 picoCuries per liter of cesium-137, which falls under the same 3.0 standard.

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Fish For Dinner? Bring Your Geiger Counter

Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times

Photo: Librado Romero/The New York Times

I ate sushi last night at the extraordinary Japanese restaurant Sushi of Gari. Now that I’ve read this story by William Neuman and Florence Fabricant in the New York Times I’m wishing I’d brought along a Geiger counter. The photo is essential, so NYT, we hereby claim fair use:

Eric Ripert, the chef of Le Bernardin, the high temple of seafood in Manhattan, bought a new kitchen gadget a few days ago: a radiation detector.

“I just want to make sure whatever we use is safe,” said Mr. Ripert, whose staff is using the device to screen every item of food that enters the restaurant, regardless of its origin. He has also stopped buying fish from Japan, which means no high-quality, farm-raised hamachi and kampachi for raw seafood dishes.

“Nobody knows how the currents will carry the contaminated water,” he said.

Despite assurances by health officials that radiation from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan is unlikely to show up in the food supply, worries about contaminated foods are growing among consumers, businesses and governments across the globe.

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Inside Report: Fukushima’s Nuclear Evacuation Zone

Fukushima, Japan - The Japanese government issued an evacuation order on March 12 for residents living within the 20 kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Since then, residents have left their homes, and the "no man land" has been out of touch with the rest of the world. A Japanese journalist, Tetsuo Jimbo, ventured through the evacuation zone last Sunday, and filed the following video report. He says that inside the evacuation zone, homes, buildings, roads and bridges, which were torn down by the tsunami, are left completely untouched, and the herd of cattle and pet dogs, left behind by the owners, wanders around the town while the radiation level remains far beyond legal limits.
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The New York Times Let The Truth Slip Out on the Radiation in Japan

RadiationFlashes of extremely intense radioactivity have become a serious problem, he said. Tokyo Electric’s difficulties in providing accurate information on radiation are not a result of software problems, as some Japanese officials have suggested, but stem from damage to measurement instruments caused by radiation, the executive said. It's at the end of this NY Times article:
Still, concerns about the plant remain high. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission speculated Wednesday that some of the core of the No. 2 reactor had flowed from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure. The theory implies more damage at the unit than previously believed. While a spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric dismissed the analysis, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan agreed that it was possible that the core had leaked into the larger containment vessel. The possibility raised new questions. The Nuclear Regulator Commission said that its speculation about the flow of core material out of the reactor vessel would explain high radiation readings in an area underneath, called the drywell. But some of the radiation readings at Reactors Nos. 1 and 3 over the last week were nearly as high as or higher than the 3,300 rems per hour that the commission said it was trying to explain, so it would appear that the speculation would apply to them as well. At No. 2, extremely radioactive material continues to ooze out of the reactor pressure vessel, and the leak is likely to widen with time, a western nuclear executive asserted.
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Episodes Of ‘The Simpsons’ To Be Edited Following Japanese Nuclear Crisis

Simpsons Radioactive?Via Entertainment Weekly:

Japan’s nuclear power plant crisis is no laughing matter in Springfield: Networks in several European countries are reportedly reviewing episodes of “The Simpsons” for any “unsuitable” references to nuclear disaster.

An Austrian network has apparently pulled two eps, 1992’s “Marge Gets a Job” and 2005’s “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister,” which include jokes about radiation poisoning and nuclear meltdowns, respectively.

Al Jean — exec producer of the animated Fox comedy featuring inept family man/nuclear power plant worker Homer Simpson — tells EW that he can appreciate the concern.

“We have 480 episodes, and if there are a few that they don’t want to air for awhile in light of the terrible thing going on, I completely understand that,” says Jean, citing the previous example of the 1997 episode “Homer Versus the City of New York” that was pulled after 9/11 because it included key scenes at the World Trade Center.

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Will You Drink Fukushima Milk?

Photo: FiveRings (CC)

Photo: FiveRings (CC)

How do you feel about drinking milk with trace radiation from Fukushima’s nuclear disaster, even if our government assures us there’s no health hazard? From US News:

In an update to its ongoing radiation monitoring following the Fukushima Daiichi reactor crisis in Japan, U.S. government officials announced late Wednesday that milk sampled March 25 in Washington state contained low levels of radiation not likely to cause harm to humans.

In a statement released jointly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, the two agencies said that their screening of milk from Spokane, Wash., showed levels of iodine-131 that were “more than 5,000 times lower than the Derived Intervention Level” set by the FDA.

The level of iodine-131 found in the Spokane milk is “far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children,” the FDA and the EPA both said.

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Fukushima Radioactive Fallout Nears Chernobyl Levels

Fukushima PrefectureReported by a source no less than the New Scientist:

Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.

The difference between this accident and Chernobyl, they say, is that at Chernobyl a huge fire released large amounts of many radioactive materials, including fuel particles, in smoke. At Fukushima Daiichi, only the volatile elements, such as iodine and caesium, are bubbling off the damaged fuel. But these substances could nevertheless pose a significant health risk outside the plant.

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Japan’s Safety Regulators: Fukushima No. 3 Nuclear Reactor May Have Been Breached

Atomic EnergyDavid Jolly & Hiroko Tabuchi report in the NY Times:

TOKYO — Japan’s effort to contain the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered a setback, an official said on Friday, citing evidence that the reactor vessel of the No. 3 unit may have been damaged.

The development, described at a news conference by Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, raises the possibility that radiation from the mox fuel in the reactor — a combination of uranium and plutonium — could be released.

One sign that a breach may have occurred in the reactor vessel, Mr. Nishiyama said, took place on Thursday when three workers who were trying to connect an electrical cable to a pump in a turbine building next to the reactor were injured when they stepped into water that was found to be significantly more radioactive than normal in a reactor.

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Radiation Dose Chart

Randall Munroe of the blog xkcd took the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake tragedy (with its resultant fears of nuclear contamination) as an opportunity to construct a chart putting into perspective the quantities of radiation received from various sources — allowing for comparisons between Fukushima, Chernobyl, living near a coal plant, taking a walk, getting an x-ray, flying on an airplane, and the largest and deadliest cases of exposure. Read and learn:

radiation-dose-chart-4490-1300581517-54

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