Fukushima Radioactivity Release Estimates Pt. 1

Further information concerning the truth in the Fukushima accident.

You can’t be distracted by the noise of misinformation. – James Daly

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13678627

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa) now says 770,000 terabecquerels escaped into the atmosphere following the 11 March disaster – more than double its earlier estimate of 370,000 terabecquerels.

Although the amount is just 15% of the total released at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986 – the world’s worst nuclear disaster – it suggests the contamination of the area around the plant is worse than first thought, says the BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo.

We are now starting to get some better information out of TEPCO and the Japanese government. 770,000 terabecquerels converts to twenty million curies. This is a lot of radioactivity. And the correct term for what is being release is radioactivity, not radiation. The radioactivity releases energy, radiation, as it undergoes radioactive decay. So radiation must have a source, and it’s this source that is ‘leaking’ or being released from where it’s supposed to be contained. Imagine your kitchen after your children made you biscuits from scratch. The flour all over your kitchen is the ‘contamination’ and if it were radioactive, it would be radioactive contamination. Fortunately flour is only a nuisance. Or better yet, if you had a balloon full of cesium 131 powder, there would be radiation emitted from the balloon (well, the cesium in the balloon). But you could put the balloon under a lead blanket and all would be alright. But if you pop the balloon, the cesium powder will fly out all over the place. And it’s all still emitting radiation, but now rather than being contained in a balloon, it’s all over the room, all over you, and unless you held your breath, all IN you! This isn’t good. So kids… take care of your cesium balloons!

But I am still looking for a breakdown of the amounts of each radioactive isotope released, as this is of great importance. Imagine if I told you that someone had spilled twenty gallons of liquid in your kitchen? If it were twenty gallons of water, you’d just be worried about water damage, but what if it were twenty gallons of liquid chlorine, or twenty gallons of hydrochloric acid? So ‘what kind’ of radioactivity released is important. True that any release radioactivity is not good, but some types of radioactivity are worse than others. I’m going to try to put this twenty million curies of radioactivity into some sort of perspective, but first here is something I stumbled on while researching this post. (Please be advised that I have not found any supporting references for this yet, and it’s from an anti-nuclear website.)

In 1945, 550,000 curies of radioactive iodine were released at Hanford, exposing 150 million Americans to more than 4 billion picocuries per capita of this lethal radionuclide, an amount comparable to releases from Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster in history – which resulted in a 200 fold increase in thyroid cancer in that area.
(http://www.antiatom.org/GSKY/en/WC/e00wc/ei-casey.htm)

The above is an interesting find, and I’ll try to see if I can glean any other evidence out of it. But for now, here are some ways to put the radioactivity released into some sort of perspective:

  • A typical home smoke alarm has about 1 microcurie of usually Americium-241. So Fukushima is equivalent to about  twenty billion smoke detectors.
  • Using the ‘banana equivalent dose’ that some organizations do, assuming a typical banana contains 0.5 nanocuries of Potassium-41, and that a banana weighs 150 grams: 6.6 trillion tons of bananas. (Ok, this got so mind boggling my math might be off. But it sure looks impressive.)
  • Here’s a good source of information for comparisons of radioactivity: http://cns.miis.edu/opapers/op11/op11.pdf
  • And here is another excellent resource for some of our Department of Energy’s cache of radioactive sources. http://www.davistownmuseum.org/cbm/Rad8b.html

Again, I am waiting for an itemized estimate of the released isotopes before this can be truly categorized.

Let’s all be informed, and don’t just rely on me, ferret all this out for yourself too!

As you were.

BBC News – German nuclear review throws up new problems

Simple mathematics.

P = (N + F + W + S) + I

Where:
P = power consumption.
N = nuclear generated power.
F = fossil fuel generated power.
W = wind generated power.
S = solar generated power.
I = “imported” power. And this power’s source is an unknown, but probably cheapest possible.

If P is to remain constant, and nuclear power is to be minimized or reduced to 0 the following is true:

F, W, and S must increase proportionally to maintain P constant.
– AND/OR –
I must increase.

BBC News – German nuclear review throws up new problems.

There’s always a rub. In this day and age when our world’s energy consumption is rising at an alarming rate, and with the NIMBY attitude held by… well held by everyone, where is the solution? What is the end game in this dangerous game of chess with the environment, and the world’s citizens who do not have voices?

Regardless of your political, or idealistic thoughts on nuclear power, it is important to look at all aspects of the energy picture.

Just after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in March, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a review of energy policy and ordered Germany’s oldest reactors to be shut down immediately, and perhaps permanently.

Only a few months earlier, she had decided to keep the reactors running past their original shutdown dates.

But only now comes the hard bit. Power companies have warned of higher prices because of the shutdown; Germany has imported electricity to meet peaks in demand; analysts have warned that coal-fired power stations will be boosted – and nuclear ones in the nearby Czech Republic and France.

And right in the heart of the country, protest groups are raising their voices as they realise that rejigging a country’s energy industry means redirecting the transmission lines through their picturesque backyard.

This is the problem. First a knee-jerk reaction because of the terrible accident at Japan’s Fukushima reactor sites. I think a reaction is important, and required, but to categorically make decision of this magnitude without the proper forethought is rather rash, and will make it difficult to enact intelligent policies for the actual reduction of nuclear power. Let alone the increase of wind power. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all about increasing “green” energy (whatever that is).

Secondly, it’s one thing to reduce one’s own generation of nuclear power, but if the consumed power is to stay constant, then you will have to rely on imported power. And interestingly that’s something that you, as a sovereign country, have no control over. If you buy power from the Czech Republic, then you have no say in how that power is generated.

Lastly, we all want a solution, we all want the comfort of the conveniences we have now. But, NIMBY comes back to bite you. (Not In My BackYard) As long as I don’t have the transmission lines running through my yard, as long as I can’t see the frightening cooling towers of the nuclear plant, as long as I can’t see the fossil fuel plants with the convoys of trucks carrying coal daily.

There is only one thing we all can do to help this planet. And that is every single one of us must reduce. Forget this silly “carbon footprint” bullshit. If you want to lose weight, don’t count points… eat less and get more exercise. It’s that simple. We must all reduce our power consumption. It will be inconvenient, but we must do it. And unlike many who criticize others because they aren’t doing “enough”, I just ask everyone to do something. Anything. Please. I will do the same. I’ve already started, I am not using my A/C, and it’s hotter than forty hells, but I’m persevering! I’m also going to string up a clothes line. I’ll keep you posted, and I’ll be honest too.

As you were.

Nuclear Energy Institute – Information on the Japan Earthquake and Reactors in That Region

Hello folks. I have been wondering what the state of the Fukushima reactors is, and since the ADD afflicted American media has completely forgotten that there is even an island State named Japan I thought I’d try to find an update. I have noticed though that the concern for our safety due to release of radioactive contamination from the Fukushima reactors has lapsed a bit since American Idol is/has wound up. I am trying to find a source of information relating to the estimated total amount of contamination released from the reactors, and how that compares to both natural, and commercial radioactive contamination in the environment. I will also try to relate the estimated cancer rates, and death to other poisons and accidents such as cigarette smoking, and car wrecks. I’ll post this as soon as I can find a source.

Having served in the US Navy on a nuclear submarine I do have my opinion of nuclear power, and my opinion is that nuclear power can be operated in a safe manner. (Notice I didn’t say that it is being operated in a safe manner, just that it can be.) And since as a nation we are, and you must admit it, energy gluttons, I don’t see that we have much of a choice! There are only so many ways to generate energy at the level that we want require. NIMBY, and Dis/Mis-information are the greatest enemies of all new energy sources; as evidenced by the fight to put a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts.

Below are two links to, and some choice comments from, two distinct sources; the IAEA, and the Department of Nuclear Energy at UC Berkeley. Enjoy, and make up your own minds.

As you were.


Nuclear Energy Institute – Information on the Japan Earthquake and Reactors in That Region.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said today that fuel damage likely occurred in reactors 2 and 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility in the first few days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Both reactors are now reported to be stable and at relatively low temperatures. The extent of the fuel damage is unknown. If the water gauges inside the two reactors are accurate, there was sufficient water in the reactors to prevent damage to all the fuel, the company said.

Most of the fuel damage that occurred in reactor 2 is believed to have taken place within 100 hours of the earthquake. TEPCO believes fuel was damaged in reactor 3 within 60 hours. The company previously confirmed that fuel was damaged in reactor 1.

TEPCO plans to install two heat exchangers today to lower the temperature of the used reactor fuel at reactor 2.

Gamma Dose Rates in 47 Prefectures

Gamma dose rates are measured daily in all 47 prefectures. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan reports values on the basis of data collected from each prefecture. On 18 May the value of gamma dose rate reported for Fukushima prefecture was 1.6 µSv/h. In all other prefectures, reported gamma dose rates were below 0.1 µSv/h, with a general decreasing trend.

Air Concentrations of Radionuclides On-site at Fukushima Daiichi Plant

On-site measurements at the west gate of the Fukushima Daiichi plant indicate the presence of I-131 and Cs-137 in the air in the close vicinity of the plant (within approximately 1 km). The values observed in the previous days show daily fluctuations with an overall decreasing tendency.

Concentrations of Radionuclides in Drinking Water

As of 10 May, the restriction on the consumption of drinking water relating to I-131 – which had been applied since 1 April as a precautionary measure for one remaining location (the village of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture), and only for infants – was lifted.

Data Showing Releases of Radioisotopes into the Environment from Nuclear Reactors in the US

I have been searching for data regarding radioisotopes in the environment prior to Fukushima and have come across very interesting data found on the U.S.NRC. website (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission).

This data shows that there are regular releases of multiple radioisotopes For example: Iodine-131, Cesium-137, Xenon, Strontium 90 etc. into the environment in the US. The documents are really long but you can search for key words such as Iodine and Cesium etc.

Here are the results from 2009 for Diablo Canyon Reactors 1&2

http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1012/ML101270126.pdf

Scroll down to page 24 and beyond to see what radioisotopes were being released into the environment and at what amounts.

Here are the results from 2009 for San Onofre Reactors 2&3

http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1012/ML101240921.pdf

Here are the results for Oyster Creek Reactor

http://wba.nrc.gov:8080/ves/view_contents.jsp

This reactor had 3 accidental releases on top of the regular releases for 2009.

Here is the website listing all of the nuclear plants in the US. You can look at the annual report for each reactor. Mid-way down the page you can read the Radioactive Effluent Summary Report by Calendar Year: 2008 which gives us a report of all the releases by radioisotopes for all of the reactors in a comparitive graph. The data is for 2008 and they have not released the data for 2009 and 2010 yet but looking at the data for previous years you can tell this is a ongoing thing.

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operating/ops-experience/tritium/plant-info.html

If you do a search of the ADAMS system and type “radioactive” as a search term and then scroll to the end of the documents to get to the most current documents (2009 to present) you will see many effluent release reports for numerous nuclear reactors in the US for 2009.

http://wba.nrc.gov:8080/ves/

I can’t believe that they have been releasing all this radiation for years and we haven’t known about it because they haven’t publicly given us the information. Or they have and we just didn’t know where to look for it. Now they are saying that all of the radioisotopes that we are finding lately are solely due to Fukushima releases and have nothing to due with the nuclear reactors in the US, previous nuclear accidents and explosions in the US and releases into the water systems from hospitals and medical facilites. I am not so sure now!

BBC News – Christmas Island shipwreck inquest opens

BBC News – Christmas Island shipwreck inquest opens.

An Australian inquest into the Christmas Island shipwreck has heard how the captain abandoned the boat a day before the tragedy.

The real significance of crime is in its being a breach of faith with the community of mankind.

Anyone who has read Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad will see the similarity in this story. Unfortunately there probably was no significant semblance of valor or integrity violated by a moment of reactionary decision making. Alas there is no real Tuan Jim anymore.

BBC News – ‘100 missing’ as DR Congo boat capsizes

BBC News – ‘100 missing’ as DR Congo boat capsizes.

When I was a boy we didn’t wake up with Vietnam and have Cyprus for lunch and the Congo for dinner. – Lyndon B. Johnson

“Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.” – Joseph Conrad (The Heart of Darkness)

On this day, that has had so many world shaking events unfold, I feel it is important to take just a second to stop and realize that there are still people throughout the world that are hurting. They are just trying to survive in this hard world, even commuting can be a dangerous event. So while we all live our lives, and cuss at the car that just cut us off, I really think we should be thankful for what we have. Oh, and take a moment in thought for the victims of this simple tragedy.

As you were.