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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

Grey Whale being dissected on Wickaninnish Beach April 23, 2015

The purpose of this diary is to report analyses carried out by the InFORM project on muscle and blubber samples from a grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus), that beached near Tofino, BC on April 20, 2015.  The diary is the most recent in a series that aims to communicate results of scientific research into the impact of the Fukushima disaster on the environment. With the cooperation of the Ucluelet Aquarium the InFORM project was able to obtain samples of the whales muscle and blubber which were analyzed for the presence of gamma emitting radioisotopes in Health Canada's laboratories in Ottawa, ON Canada.  The gamma radiation spectra were dominated by naturally occurring radioisotopes, primarily Potassium-40 (40K half life 1.25 billion years), and after 24 hours of counting no Fukushima derived Cesium-134 (134Cs half life ~ 2 years), a fingerprint of the disaster in the environment could be detected.  The unfortunate demise of the grey whale is very unlikely to have been the result of acute or chronic radiation exposure owing to Fukushima derived radionuclides in seawater and the whales food.

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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

The purpose of this diary is to introduce a brief, informal movie made while using a Geiger Counter in the laboratory today.  This diary is part of an ongoing effort to communicate what the scientific community is learning about the impact of the Fukushima disaster on environmental and public health.  A Geiger Counter was used to examine ionizing radiation counts per minute in the laboratory owing to background radioactivity, the concentrated natural and man made isotopes in 20 liters of seawater collected by InFORM citizen scientist volunteers, the uranium oxide glaze on a Fiestaware dinner platter and Uraninite ore mined from New Hampshire.  This simple demonstration supports more sensitive measurements indicating our citizen scientists are exposed to no more ionizing radiation than is typical of background when collecting seawater samples.

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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

The Raincoast Education Society has partnered with the University of Victoria and California State University to carry out radionuclide sampling of sea water and kelp, respectively, in Clayoquot Sound. http://raincoasteducation.org/radiation-monitoring

The purpose of this diary is to report the most recent results of Kelp Watch 2015, a program dedicated to monitoring for the presence of Fukushima contamination off our Pacific Coast.  This post is the latest in a series dedicated to the public dissemination of information about the impacts of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster on the health of the North Pacific Ocean ecosystem and health of North American residents. New results from the third sampling period (January through March 2015) of Kelp Watch 2015 were released on April 6, 2015 and can be found here. As with previously reported results here, here and here no radioactive isotopes from Fukushima were detected in kelp growing at sampling sites spread along our Pacific coast.  The absence of 134Cs in kelp suggests that ocean transport of Fukushima contamination had yet to reach North American coastal water. As the contaminated water reaches the shoreline in the coming months Kelp Watch 2015 will help to track the arrival of the plume in time and space.

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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama
A schematic view of the formation and subduction of mode waters in the North Pacific
The purpose of this diary is to report on a recently published (Jan 2015) open-access, peer reviewed study which examined the activities of 137Cs (half life 30.2 yr), 134Cs (half life ~2.1 yr) and 90Sr (half life ~28.8 yr) in the northwest Pacific off the coasts of Japan and China. The diary is part of a ongoing effort to communicate the results of scientific research into the impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster on environmental and public health.  Men and colleagues report on how activities of these fission produced isotopes changed between three research expeditions in June 2011, December 2011 and June 2012. Activities in seawater decreased dramatically through time for all three isotopes consistent with very high release rates measured from the Fukushima site in March-April 2011 followed by ongoing but many orders of magnitude (10,000 - 100,000 fold) lower releases from the site thereafter. By 2012 the impact of the Fukushima releases could be still be detected in most samples for Cs isotopes however 90Sr distributions were much more uniform with the highest measured activity only slightly above the pre-Fukushima background.  These results are consistent with:
  1. the relatively small source term for 90Sr from compared with the Cs isotopes from Fukushima as determined by measurements of air, soil and water after the disaster
  2. the much lower Fukushima derived activities for these isotopes in the eastern Pacific off of North America being measured given decay and mixing of the contamination as it is transported by ocean currents
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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

The purpose of this diary is to provide an update with the most recent results of the Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radioactivity Monitoring (InFORM) project.  The diary is part of an ongoing effort to communicate scientific research into the impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster on environmental and public health. New results from our most northern citizen scientist collected samples demonstrate that as of November of 2014 the contaminated seawater from Fukushima had yet to reach British Columbia's coastal waters.  New results of the project will be published as analyses are completed on onshore and offshore seawater samples as well as marine biota.

Ailish Bouwman and Megan Ives collecting a water sample for the InFORM project at the Government Wharf in Sandspit, Haida Gwaii BC Canada.
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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

Surface deposition of 131-I as reported in Fig. 15 of Katata et al. (2015)

The purpose of this short diary is to discuss the surplus of misinformation on the environmental impact of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) disaster present in the public domain.  The diary is part of an ongoing effort to mobilize useful and accurate information about the disaster with respect to the likely impacts on the health of the North Pacific and residents of western North America. Energy News has a history of misrepresenting or misunderstanding the scientific literature in its presentation of information specific to Fukushima. A recent report on a study estimating the atmospheric source term for Fukushima is no exception.  It used to be that within a few hours of such misinformation posting we could be sure to see it show up on Kos but luckily we have been spared it recently.  Below the fold I outline how this misinformation is packaged as an example of the sort of poor reporting and knowledge mobilization that the Fukushima disaster begets.

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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

Map showing the location of the site of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in Japan. Stations are indicated at which seawatersamples were collected in 2011-2014 on Line P and in 2012 in the Beaufort Sea. Box B and point R represents the model domains for which Fukushima-derived 137-Cs time-series concentrations were estimated by Behrens and colleagues and Rossi and colleagues respectively.
Inset shows sampling station locations along Line P. Dashed curves are time-averaged streamlines representing the mean dynamic height field for 2002–2012, indicating the northward geostrophic transport of the Alaska Current across Line P.

This short diary summarizes an open access paper published today reporting results from a Canadian monitoring program tasked with documenting the arrival of ocean borne Fukushima contamination along the North American Pacific coast. This diary is part of an ongoing effort to communicate the best science available on the impacts of the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns on the environment. High quality measurements to look for Fukushima derived radiocesium were made in seawater in the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans from 2011 to early 2014.  The authors concluded that:

  1. Fukushima derived radiocesium was first detected 1500 km west of British Columbia Canada in June 2012
  2. Contamination was detected on the continental shelf (near coastal waters) in June 2013
  3. By February 2014 Fukushima radiocesium was present at levels similar to preexisting weapons testing derived 137-Cs
  4. The timing of the arrival and levels of radiocesium in the contaminated plume are in reasonable agreement with existing ocean circulation model predictions
  5. These same models predict that total radiocesium levels from weapons testing fallout and Fukushima will likely reach maximum values of ~3-5 Becquerel per cubic meter (Bq m-3 of seawater in 2015-2016 and then decline to fallout background level of ~1 Bq m-3 by 2021
  6. Fukushima will increase northeastern Pacific water to levels last seen in the 1980's but does not represent a threat to environmental or human health
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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama
Estimated total atmospheric source term for Fukushima compared to Chernobyl in PBq (PBq = 10^15 Bq).
This diary reports on a recently published peer reviewed study by Steinhauser and colleagues in the journal Science of the Total Environment (behind pay wall) comparing the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents. The diary is part of an ongoing effort to communicate the results of scientific studies into the impact of the Fukushima disaster on the environment. A majority of the radioactivity released from both Chernobyl and Fukushima can be attributed to volatile radionuclides (noble gases, iodine, cesium, tellurium). In contrast, the amounts of more refractory elements (including actinides like plutonium), released by Chernobyl was ~four orders of magnitude (10,000 fold) higher than releases from Fukushima. The most cited source term for Chernobyl is 5300 PBq (excluding noble gases) while a review of published studies of Fukushima carried out by the authors above allow an estimate for the total atmospheric source term of 520 (a range of 340–800) PBq. Monitoring of air, soil and water for radionuclides after the respective accidents indicate that the environmental impact of Chernobyl is likely to be much greater than the Fukushima accident.  The post is relatively information dense as I have provided data tables for those who are interested in the estimates and the peer-reviewed studies from which they come.  Apologies up front to those who find such information tedious.
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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama
Satellite measurements of ocean temperature (illustrated by color) from July 28th to August 4th and the direction of currents (white arrows) help show where radionuclides from Fukushima are transported.  Large scale currents transport water westward across the Pacific.  Upwelling along the west coast of North America in the summertime brings cold deep water to the surface and transports water offshore.  Circles indicate the locations where water samples were collected.  White circles indicate that no cesium-134 was detected.  Blue circles indicate locations were low levels of cesium-134 were detected.  No cesium-134 has yet been detected along the coast, but low levels have been detected offshore. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
The purpose of this diary is to report on new results coming out of the crowd-funded Our Radioactive Ocean program headed up by Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. This diary is part of an ongoing series dedicated to scientific inquiry into the impact of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima on the health of the North Pacific Ocean and residents of the west coast of North America. Measurements of the cesium radioisotopes 134-Cs (half life ~ 2 years) and 137-Cs (half life ~30 years) were made on samples collected on a transect between Monterey Bay CA and Dutch Harbor AK this summer.  Because of its relatively short half life, 134-Cs serves as an unequivocal tracer of Fukushima contamination in the environment.  Fukushima derived 134-Cs was detected at offshore stations with a maximum activity of ~ 2 Bq/m^3 and total 137-Cs activities of ~7 Bq/m^3 of seawater.  Measurements have yet to detect 134-Cs in nearshore waters sampled up and down the North American west coast.  These activities of Cs are orders of magnitude below levels thought to pose a measurable risk to human health or marine life, according to international health agencies.
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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

This diary reports on the most recent study of plutonium releases from Fukushima to the Pacific Ocean.  The post contributes to an ongoing effort to report peer-reviewed studies on the impact of the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichii nuclear power plant on the health of the Pacific ecosystem and residents of the west coast of North America. Plutonium is an alpha-emitting isotope that carries significant radiological health risks if internalized with risk of exposure increasing with the activity of Pu isotopes in the environment.  Previous work indicates that 239,240-Pu releases from Fukushima were about 100,000 and 5,000,000 times lower than releases from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and 20th century weapons testing respectively.  Initial measurements of Pu isotopes in seawater and marine sediments off the coast from Fukushima indicated no detectable change occurred in Pu inventories in the western Pacific after the disaster.  More recent and more expansive work supports earlier studies drawing the conclusion that up to two years after the accident the release of Pu isotopes by the Fukushima accident to the Pacific Ocean has been negligible.

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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

The purpose of this diary is to summarize recent models and measurements of the release of strontium-90 (90-Sr, half life 28.8 yr) to the ocean resulting from the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.  This diary is part of an ongoing series aimed at understanding the impact of the disaster on the North Pacific Ocean and residents of the west coast of North America. 90-Sr is a beta-emitting element that is a radiological health concern given its relatively long half life and similar chemistry to the nutrient calcium (Ca). Previous peer-reviewed work indicate that releases of 90-Sr were about 30-10,000 fold less than 137-Cs and similar to the release of 90-Sr from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and about 600-fold lower than the releases from atmospheric weapons tests that peaked in the mid-1960's. Given maximal release rates after the disaster, modeled activities of 90-Sr in the marine foodweb and in fish that accounts for bioconcentration and accumulation predict maximal dose rates from Fukushima to human consumers three orders of magnitude less than doses owing to the presence of 137-Cs in marine products and thus well below maximum dose limits thought to be detrimental to public health.

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Reposted from MarineChemist by Wee Mama

The purpose of this diary to bring to the attention of readers a recently published correction to a prominent model that predicts the activity of Fukushima derived Cesium-137 (137-Cs, half life ~30 years) in seawater of the North Pacific. The diary is part of an ongoing series aimed at discussing research addressing the impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the health of the North Pacific Ocean and inhabitants of North America's west coast. Predictions of a model by Rossi and colleagues published in Deep-Sea Research in 2013 of the evolution of the plume of seawater contaminated by the Fukushima triple meltdowns are an order of magnitude too high. Rather than a range of ~1-30 Bq/m^3 reported previously maximum activities off the west coast of North America are likely to be ~3 Bq/m^3 or about more than 25 times lower than maximum activities measured in the Pacific in the mid-20th century resulting from atmospheric weapons tests.  These activities are not likely to represent significant radiological health risks to the North Pacific ecosystem or residents of the North American west coast.

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