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  •  There's a little more on plutonium in soil (1+ / 0-)
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    mahakali overdrive

    Kyodo added about the plutonium in the soil to the article on water in the trench.

    But they are downplaying it - no hazard to human health


    •  Five kinds, and they are downplaying the risk (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, BlueSue, Lura, Picot verde

      The thing is with Plutonium that if the tiniest piece is inhaled, you can get cancer. It's certainly commonly called the most toxic substance known to humankind.

      And it can get into the groundwater.

      What has TEPCo thus far stated could potentially be harmful to human health?

      •  It didn't specify, (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlueSue, rja, mahakali overdrive

        but I'd bet Pu-239, 240, and 241.

        I wonder if we will hear what method they used to detect it. Hopefully not from its characteristic gamma-rays, measured out in the open, as that would imply pretty large quantities (maybe 10 milligrams, depending on the detector and the background?) for any reasonable count times.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 09:50:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting factoid on plutonium (5+ / 0-)

        I found this in a paper about contamination at Rocky Flats from making nuclear bombs:


        Before 1945, plutonium was virtually nonexistent in the human environment. Then in the 1950s and 1960s, plutonium was released into the environment during atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Plutonium can now be found in very small amounts in the soil throughout the Northern Hemisphere because of fallout from the atmospheric testing. Plutonium has also been found in soil near nuclear weapons production plants such as Rocky Flats due to accidents and spills.


        •  I mentioned an anecdote about this (6+ / 0-)

          a week or so ago. When taking core samples around a badly designed dump in Idaho used to "store" drums of Pu-contamnated debris from Rocky Flats, precautions had to be taken not to contaminate the samples with Pu deposited on the surface (said at the time to be from that spread by the weapons testing). Seems you could get a few parts per billion error if you didn't keep the drill clean, and they were looking to detect numbers like that down in the aquifer.

          I remember reading that the quantity of Pu spread during the tests amounted to about 10,000 kg. I have also read 20,000. Only about half of it fissions during the explosion, they can't quite keep the thing together long enough to get that last fission generation done during the explosion.

          One of my many jobs at Argonne had me looking into some of the better-handled Rocky Flats drums. Argonne had the job of trying to correlate the items in a sample of drums with the "manifests". The manifests didn't list some of the things, though, such as a Playboy magazine from the late 60s and a McDonald's hamburger wrapper (I saw that latter one, but not the former). I had to do quantitative Pu measurements using gamma-rays and somewhat guessed-at correction factors. The Pu quantities were sometimes understated by factors of a thousand. Good thing they were listed in milligrams, lol, otherwise we would have had quite a few criticality accidents with a factor like that.

          Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

          by billmosby on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 11:13:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Did you see my comment about Hanford (5+ / 0-)

            der Spiegel has an article on it and says it's the most contaminated location in the Western Hemisphere.

            Liquid waste is buried in million gallon drums but some of them are leaking and the radioactivity is migrating.


            Did you have to open up the drums to make a determination? That seems risky. I assume you were suited up.

            •  They had a giant glovebox (4+ / 0-)

              built especially for the work. The drums were mated to holes in the bottom of it and then opened from the inside. They had a whole video setup so the operators could make a realtime audio/video log of the operations.

              So it was a shirtsleeve environment for the work most of us did. I do remember seeing a lot of scorched plexiglass from the Pu fires they had at Rocky Flats, that generated quite a bit of waste.

              I've been familiar with the situation at Hanford for quite a while. Partly because operations in Idaho had a chance to go the same way except the management of the Chem Plant (which reprocessed submarine fuel) insisted on calciners and dry storage. They dried out the waste solutions before storing them. They still have to do something with the calcine, but it keeps a lot better than liquid does.

              For all I know Argonne could still be examining those Rocky Flats drums, as drums are still being shipped from INL to WIPP now. I live in the Salt Lake City area now and when I'm on I-15 north of here I still am apt to see a truck with 3 of the overpacks on it traveling south. They turn east at some point up there, not sure where.

              I'll take a look at your link, thanks.

              Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

              by billmosby on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 12:31:33 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, and the glovebox had a crack in it... (4+ / 0-)

              on the inner glass. Outside that were plexiglass and then an outer layer of glass, so they just kept on using it. The crack got there in kind of a funny way. They had planned on being able to manipulate fairly heavy objects from the drums by using Schilling arms capable of handling, I don't know, hundreds of pounds or something. And they carefully put in enough clearance that there was "no way" they could strike and break the glass. Then some numbnuts operator picked up something not all that large and rammed the glass with it. I guess they forgot that the arms would actually be used to manipulate stuff of finite dimensions.

              So the arms just sat in there as a sort of monument to the notion of being more careful. Worth their cost if they worked in that capacity, lol!

              Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

              by billmosby on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 12:41:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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