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This diary is the latest in a series that aim to understand what the likely impact of Fukushima sourced radionuclides will be on ecosystem and human health on the North American west coast.  Herein, I report on a newly published, open-access study by Smith et al. (2014) in the Journal of Environmental Protection who studied the levels of Fukushima radionuclides in air, rainwater and food resulting from atmospheric fallout in the San Francisco Bay area.  Monitoring of the fallout isotopes 90-Sr (in rainwater) 131-I, 132-I, 132-Te, 134-Cs, 136-Cs and 137-Cs began shortly after the disaster on March 11, 2011 and continued through the end of 2012. The results of the study are compared to similar measurements made in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.  Peak fallout activities of radionuclides from Chernobyl in 1986 in the Bay area were 10 times greater than the levels measured from Fukushima in 2011.

As in previous diaries it is important to understand that scientists use a variety of units to measure radioactivity. A commonly used unit is the Becquerel (Bq for short) which represents an amount of radioactive material where one atom decays per second and has units of inverse time (per second). Another unit commonly used is disintegrations per minute (dpm) where the number of atoms undergoing radioactive decay in one minute are counted (so 1 Bq = 60 dpm).

All of the measurements reported in the study were made at the Low Background Facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.  Beginning on March 14, 2011 (international pi day for those who are interested in such things an air sampler was operated at the facility to track the arrival of gamma emitting radionuclides transported in the atmosphere from Fukushima to the San Francisco Bay area.  Measurements at LBNL are ongoing but the paper reports measurements made until the end of 2012.  Radionuclides in aerosols >0.3 microns were collected on HEPA filters and counted using sensitive gamma radiation spectrometers.  Activities of Fukushima radionuclides in air 137-Cs, 131-I, 132-Te tied to the presence of short-lived 134-Cs (t1/2 = 2.06 years) are presented in Bq/m3 in the figure below:

Long term airborne concentrations fission products from March 11, 2011 to the end of 2012 as measured on HEPA filters in Berkeley, CA. Horizontal error bars, when visible, represent filter exposure periods. Missing error bars are smaller than the marker. Plotted uncertainties seen here are statistical only, and a conservative systematic uncertainty of 10% should also be assumed.
Activities peaked shortly after the monitoring program began roughly 14 days after the disaster with peak activities of 131-I of ~15 milliBq/m^3 of air. It is important to note that the filters used to determine 131-I from Fukushima and the Chernobyl incident do not retain gaseous 131-I which can account for 50-70% of the activity.  In comparison the activities of the same isotopes arriving to the Bay Area due to Chernobyl fallout after April 1986 are shown plus 103-Ru in the following figure:
Airborne concentrations fission products starting April 26, 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster as measured on a HEPA filter at the LBF in Berkeley, CA. Horizontal error bars, when visible, represent filter exposure periods. Missing error bars are smaller than the visible data marker. Plotted uncertainties seen here are statistical only, and a conservative systematic uncertainty of 10% should also be assumed.
The activities of airborne fission products delivered to San Francisco after April 26, 1986 from Chernobyl are a factor of 10 greater than the same radionuclides transported through the atmosphere from Fukushima in 2011.

The investigators also measured for Fukushima fallout radionuclides in rainwater in Oroville, CA and found peak activities of 131-I of 16 Bq/L on March 24, 2011.  Results for rainwater are presented below in units of Bq/L:

Observation of Fukushima fallout in rainwater collected in Oroville, CA over the entire monitoring duration to the end of 2012. 7-Be is shown as a comparison to a naturally produced airborne isotope. Horizontal error bars, when visible, represent filter exposure periods. Missing error bars are smaller than the visible data marker. Plotted uncertainties seen here are statistical only, and a conservative systematic uncertainty of 10% should also be assumed.
90-Sr was not detected (<~9 milliBq/L) in rainwater during the study. This likely reflects both the lower fission yield (5.78%) and volatility of 90-Sr compared to 137-Cs (6.19% yield).

3:51 PM PT: Levels in food, air and water will determine the impacts on ecosystem and human health. Atmospheric transport from Fukushima, at 10-fold less than Chernobyl fallout, should have equal or less impact on the Bay Area than Chernobyl did in 1986.  The cumulative effective dose from Fukushima radionuclides in foodstuffs purchased in October 2013 in the Bay Area was near to zero as no short-lived 134-Cs from Fukushima could be detected. Radwatch is a great site that reports information specific to the Bay Area and have been measuring for Fukushima radionuclides in salmon harvested from Alaska. If you live in the Bay Area you should follow that site.

Originally posted to MarineChemist on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 03:09 PM PST.

Also republished by SciTech and Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs.

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Comment Preferences

  •  thank you for posting this (22+ / 0-)

    to tell you the truth this is greek to me.

    Could you put a summary statement at the bottom perhaps explaining what this means for SF and Ca, etc.?


    "The corporate state’s repression, now on the brink of totalitarianism, would with the help of Christie, his corporate backers ... become a full-blown corporate fascism.'

    by SeaTurtle on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 03:40:34 PM PST

  •  Thank you so much for breaking this down (7+ / 0-)

    for us, explaining the units and the time frames.

    Naive question. Why did they wait more than a week to start monitoring?

    "The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” — William Arthur Ward

    by LilithGardener on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 03:46:08 PM PST

  •  isn't Cesium primarily an Alpha emitter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so measuring the gamma signature kind of lower value?

    Much of what's health physics looks Alpha as low
    risk when it's seeming to be the real risk factor in
    these large accidents.

    When you are in the rad lab, the Gamma is a problem
    but in these big accidents all those alpha emitters
    getting breathed in is what kills people.

  •  Oregon & Washington have been receiving isotopes (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jim P, fb, blueoasis, thomask, BusyinCA, patbahn

    that are wind born and the West Coast is about to get a huge plume of radioactive seawater spread over an area larger than the lower 48 states.



    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 04:05:35 PM PST

    •  Hi Lefty Coaster (8+ / 0-)

      The plume arriving is huge in terms of spatial extent but not in terms of activity and that is what matters the environment and the organisms which live in it.  Estimated maximum activities from models suggest a range of 2-20 Bq/cubic meter of seawater for 137-Cs (Rossi et al. 2013 and Behrens et al. 2013). Measurements by scientists in Canada suggest that the likely maximum activities will be near the lower end of the estimate.  These activities are much lower than levels in the North Pacific in the 60's and 70's and the risk to the marine ecosystem and human health is likely to be small. See my diary about this here. Reports on recent measurements in the North Pacific can be found at and in the popular press

    •  I live on the CA coast (4+ / 0-)

      ...and I am not worried about this.  Natural background radioactivity from the decay products of naturally-occuring uranium and thorium in the local beach sands is much higher than anything coming from Fukushima.  You are more likely to get sick from worry than from radiation from Fukushima.

      Obama is still my guy.

      by AKguy on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 04:37:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Comparison (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mike Kahlow, tarkangi, AKguy, BusyinCA

        Seawater is naturally radioactive, mostly potassium-40 to a level of about 11,000 Bq/m3. Rubidium-87, another natural constituent of seawater adds another 1000 Bq/m3 and there are other naturally-occurring isotopes including uranium (30 Bq/m3).

         The levels of Cs-134 and Cs-137, the major components of Fukushima fallout in seawater will be less than 20 Bq/m3 when it arrives off the Pacific West coast, and possibly much less than that as MarineChemist mentions. The Cs-134/137 level in seawater sampled a few km off the coast of the Fukushima plant in mid-January this year is about 20Bq/m3.

        •  Somehow, knowing it is below 'safe' levels (0+ / 0-)

          doesn't make me sleep better.

          There is no 'safe' exposure, any radiation can cause problems depending on it's type and method of dosage and delivery.

          And besides that, Fukishima is still spewing! And for how long can the levels remain "safe"?

          I am tired of being lied to by the governments of US and Japan and by the corporate state controlled by TEPCO and GE.

          Gimme some truth. (John Lennon, rip)

          •  Safe levels of radiation (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tarkangi, ebohlman, terrypinder, AKguy

            The legal attitude to radiation exposure is based on the Linear No Threshold (LNT) principle. It has no real scientific validity but it is used because we can't determine a true safe level as the effects at very low exposure levels are so minimal they can't be clearly enumerated in tests and it is thought to be better safe than sorry. Real damage from radiation, actual deaths and perceptible radiation sickness occur at intensity levels millions or billions of times higher than eating seafood regularly would cause.

             The result of the LNT principle is another acronym, ALARA meaning As Low As Reasonably Achievable, in other words we spend billions of dollars around the world to reduce exposure to man-made radioactivity from mining, medicine, power generation, radon gas in homes etc. At the same time we fudge the facts that natural radioactivity is in many cases much more prevalent than any man-made sources because we can't realistically do anything about them other than, say, evacuate coastal areas because of the high natural levels of radioactivity in seawater or abandon high-altitude cities like Denver and Mexico City because of cosmic rays. This isn't going to happen though.

             You've been getting the truth from folks like MEXT and Woods Hole and assorted other science-based sources, scientists who sample and measure and produce numbers and charts of levels and types of radioactivity in seawater and mud, soil and fish and the like. You've been getting scare stories and Hollywood disaster movie scripts from bullshit non-science-based sources. Your choice which to believe.

            •  I take comfort in the fact (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              that I carry around about eight hundred forty thousand decays per minute from the carbon fourteen and potassium forty that are naturally swimming around inside my membranes.

              This knowledge helps me to not freak out when I do something that increases my radiation load by forty thousand decays per minute for ten or twelve hours.  

              o caminho d'ouro, uma pinga de mel: Parati

              by tarkangi on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:29:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  but the Science data is all keyed at Threshold (0+ / 0-)


              Lots of acute studies, very few decadal, long term emissions studies.  Most of these long term studies were on dogs or mice, not on humans, and not on internal doses.

              It's hard to do long term dose studies, you end up with
              Radioactive dog shit,  so they hit animals with
              Gamma Beams or Alpha through encapsulated sources.

              They don't take macaques and feed them radioactive
              monkey chow mixed with cesium for 2 years.

              They also use a big dose, see if it kills, and scale down
              and declare "This should be safe".

              maybe it's the best you can do, but, given the hot spots of disease you find around these facilities, it's a real questionable assumption.

              •  Animals (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                terrypinder, AKguy, tarkangi

                Very few animal species live for decades so doing decadal animal testing for radiation effects where you chop up individuals occasionally to put body tissues through a mincer and scanner is kind of tricky. Human volunteers are not accepted. Of course sometimes the results are not what was expected -- a herd of cows was exposed to a close-in nuclear explosion during an atmospheric test in the US with the experimenters expecting prolific cancers and other radiation damage in the animals. Most of the herd died of old age years later apart from the ones slaughtered early in the experiment for tissue sampling.

                 There have been long-term monitoring projects of humans when the humans were contaminated by accident or design, but without the chopping-up thing.

                 The results of short-term exposure to medium to high dosages of radioactive material seems to say "no harm done" as in the cases of people who ingested or inhaled significant amounts of plutonium during the Manhattan Project. Longer-term exposure to direct and immediate fallout resulting from being a couple of kilometres from a nuclear explosion and then living in the vicinity for a couple of decades as in Hiroshima and Nagasaki says the incidence of cancer goes up by about 4% or thereabouts, from 30% to about 35%.

                 As for the hot-spots of disease around nuclear facilities, the sad fact is that those plants are often downwind of coal-burning power stations belching toxic gases and poisonous chemicals 24/7 -- the radiation load alone from the flue gases can trip alarms at some reactor sites when the wind is in the wrong direction. Basically it would be better to permanently evacuate the area around coal-burning power stations and forbid agriculture on the land but no-one cares about the deaths and disease they cause, not when there's nuclear power to rail against.

  •  More attention is needed on this ongoing (3+ / 0-)

    disaster.  It's not over.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 04:19:53 PM PST

  •  The inquiring mind wants to understand the (3+ / 0-)

    basis of the difference in environmental radiation detected at this particular geographic point between the Chernobyl vs. the Fukushima disaster.

    In other words, will MarineChemist jump in at the controls of a global mass dispersion model to explain the differences in impact as monitored in California between the two disasters.

  •  Your link re the salmon testing. (4+ / 0-)
    The samples consisted of: one fillet from 2011, several filets from 2012, and three fillets from 2013; all caught in the Kenai River.
    In science, is one, several, and three, all from the same location and all of one species generally considered a sufficient sample to make reasonable conclusions; moreover, conclusions to offer the public as having meaning?

    As to other calculations, I see 'average' is often presented to indicate something about reality, in all cases. But to borrow from Economics, if I'm penniless in a room and a millionaire walks into the room, our average wealth is half-a-million dollars. Yet in the real world, I can't buy dip and the other guy can buy one million dollars worth of stuff.

    So what mechanisms do scientists routinely employ to adjust the objective, indeed inevitable, distortion of reality inherent in presenting cases of 'the average'?

    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 04:33:53 PM PST

    •  Hi Jim P (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, elfling, tarkangi, terrypinder

      Good point.  Data are limited for foodstuffs from North America and many more analyses are needed at this point.  Measurements in hand do not suggest that committed effective doses from Fukushima radionuclides are significant compared to other isotopes in the environment.

      I know Canada is working on a program to monitor salmon and other commercially important seafood.  The radwatch site is one organization. Private businesses have been paying to have measurements made on Pacific salmon as well.  More data more confidence.  In this case if you average zero (134-Cs content) you get zero.

      If all the measurements in hand suggested that 134-Cs and 137-Cs were at 100's of Bq/kg this would represent a significant risk to consumers.  Hopefully the Canadian and US Governments will begin more systematic monitoring.

    •  So data seem to indicate an upward trend. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      More analysis is need before definitive results can be predicted.

      In the mean time, eat your seafood and continue breathing as if nothing happened.

      Although all scientists admit that radiation will trend to increase from Fukishima, and exposure, over time will also be increased over time in much of the northern hemisphere.

      Note: We are moving to southern hemisphere Australia next week, and recommend that you do also as soon as resources permit, to avoid exposure from this spewing faucet of radiation known as Fukishima.

      HA HA, not really, as we are too old and too poor to actually move to Australia. We will be the biological receptors of radioactive Cesium, strontium, iodine and whatever else is left over to airbore and seabore transport.

      But nuclear power is totally safe, right? I also have some anti-skin cancer tanning beds for sale. And some cancer-preventing cigarettes.

      •  Upward trend? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tarkangi, wonmug

        Is your monitor upside down?

        The levels from Fukushima dropped 2-3 orders of magnitude (factor of 100-1000) over the time period show in the graph.

        •  Eh, graphs. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          So you've got these plumes, air plume, water plume. And they are hitting the coast. The Continental US coast is about 2000 miles, add Canada and Alaska and Baja -- it's hard to be precise. The old 'coastline of England' problem: how big is the ruler you use to measure.

          Anyway, you've got a rough, say 4,000, 5,000 miles the plumes hit.

          Well not all currents, atmospheric or oceanic, are going to carry the same stuff at the same time to the same place and in the same amounts. There are all manner of vagaries, including densities of the radioactives, weather, the relative roiling or quiescence of the ocean and air over time...

          So the question is: how many places along 4-5K miles do you sample? Well, how wide are currents when they approach land?

          So for the continental US, I'd expect... well a professional might be able to say, but my WAG would be, testing every quarter mile. If you wanted certainty. Now some people are content to say, "two streams were checked and it showed that" and "if you average them" and things like that.

          Maybe those estimates are good. Maybe not.

          In the background, though, for someone, especially, whose life has been impacted is always the rumbling Tobacco, Asbestos, PCBs, HGH, Vioxx, Car Emissions, Agent Orange, etc etc... all sworn up and down by hundreds of experts in thousands of studies, to be safe. Except, well, they turned out to not only be wrong, but, frankly, hmmm, not functioning strictly as scientists, but with other purposes in mind.

          So, don't expect people to trust what we hear. We just found out that TEPCO has been massively underreporting, by orders of magnitude, radiation releases from Fukushima, for instance. There's a lot of motivation going well outside the range of science connected with the nuclear industry. It hasn't earned trust, really.

          Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

          by Jim P on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:01:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hi Jim P (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            tarkangi, Ozy, Mike Kahlow, terrypinder

            That is not the way the ocean works with respect to dissolved radionuclides. Cs-134, Cs-137 are present as Cs+ (similar to K+ in terms of chemistry) and 90-Sr is present as Sr2+ (similar in chemistry to Ca2+). These elements are mixed both horizontally and to a lesser extent vertically in the ocean.  The behave conservatively which means that in transit from the coast of Japan they have been mixed and diluted such that horizontal gradients within the plume will be very small. The radionuclides will have roughly constant ratios with respect to salinity at any location in the plume.  Your WAG is incorrect.  It is much more valuable to have many measurements in time at a few locations along the coast to determine the concentrations in the plume as it arrives.  The network established at will work quite well in this respect.  The oceanographic community will supplement these coastal measurements with continued offshore measurements on ship transects measuring isotope activities at many profiles.

            Please read the Behrens et al. (2012) study or the Rossi et al. (2013) study as examples of models that properly accounts for ocean mixing.  The physics are right with respect to mixing.

            Measurements thus far suggest concentrations of isotopes in the plume will be far less than the concentrations of isotopes in the North Pacific surface waters post atmospheric weapons testing in the 60's.  Again, see my post here.

            Recent reports of the rate at which radioisotopes are being released from the Fukushima based on measurements of the radionuclides in coastal ocean and tracers of groundwater input site show current rates are ~100000 times lower than in March-April of 2011.  This will not increase concentrations in the plume that will impact the west coast.

            Measurements in the ocean are as they are and independent of TEPCO. As are the distributed measurements of atmospheric fallout worldwide and measurements currently being made along the west coast.

            •  I don't see how there could possibly be (0+ / 0-)

              sufficient data to back this up:

              The behave conservatively which means that in transit from the coast of Japan they have been mixed and diluted such that horizontal gradients within the plume will be very small.
              This is the first time that anything like this has happened. There is no history to generate any data. I've seen at least one study that the concentrations and coherence of the radioactive elements in the Pacific has been much higher than expected.

              You'll remember the SPEEDI reports released from Japan at the beginning of the accident. Some stations showed almost nothing at all. Yet, researchers found that if you went a few meters from the station you could find massive accumulations.

              That's because of the way currents, air (and I'm sure ocean) work. It might well be that a station at Berkley registers low, but if the station were 5 miles up or down the coast you'd find very high readings.

              I'm not convinced that the coverage is sufficient. Certainly seeing 1, several (?4, 8, 12?), and 3 salmon being cited as if it could possibly be a meaningful sample emphasis the general untrustworthiness of the 'science.'

              Of course, TEPCO is cited as an example of a very very long, and almost ubiquitous, record of the industry's, and 'official sciences' endemic inability to deal competently or honestly.

              Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

              by Jim P on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 10:16:27 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not the first time (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ozy, ebohlman, tarkangi

                The US spent a few years in the 1950s blowing the shit out of various mid-Pacific atolls with giant thermonuclear devices dumping tonnes of fission products into the ocean in the process. Scientists have had a lot of experience tracking fission isotopes in the Pacific in particular, levels more than ten times greater than the Fukushima releases will ever reach. Indeed most of the Cs-137 being detected on the west coast of America right now comes from those original nuclear tests, the expected pulse of fresh Cs-134 from Fukushima hasn't been detected yet.

                 If the fallout from those tests had no perceptible effect on the west coast over the succeeding decades I suggest you don't panic over what the Fukushima releases will do.

              •  Ocean mixing is a well studied issue (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MarineChemist, ebohlman, tarkangi

                because it is essential for climate change modeling, and also of significant interest for general oceanography. And, since it's something that can be easily measured around the globe, it's also well understood and characterized.

                There are dedicated groups at multiple universities and agencies that study nothing but ocean mixing, so it's known very well how particles distribute through ocean transport. There is nothing 'special' about radionuclides in this sense.

                see, e.g.


                The models calculating the transport of the radiation to the west coast include ocean mixing, and therefore can predict the dilution and distribution of the radionuclides along the west coast. Their accuracy can and will of course be checked by measurements at multiple locations.

  •  Thanks - republished. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MarineChemist, ebohlman

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 04:46:17 PM PST

  •  I'd like to thank you too (6+ / 0-)

    And not just for this diary, but for all your diaries. Nice to see real science posted here instead of the "we're all gonna die" hysteria.

    We are all in the same boat on a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty. -- G.K. Chesterton

    by Keith Pickering on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 04:49:48 PM PST

  •  The CT on DK never ceases to amaze me n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

    by Walt starr on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 05:36:57 PM PST

  •  You do realize there is precisely ZERO fallout (0+ / 0-)

    from Fukishima.

    Don't you?

    Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

    by Walt starr on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 05:39:37 PM PST

    •  Hi Walt starr (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tarkangi, Simplify, terrypinder

      I am confused by your statement. All the monitoring data argues strongly against it. Is this a semantic argument?

      The authors of the study I summarize start their manuscript with the following statement:

      A variety of environmental media were analyzed for fallout radionuclides resulting from the Fukushima nuclear accident by the Low Background Facility (LBF) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, CA.
      •  Fallout results from a nuclear explosion (0+ / 0-)

        that send radioactive particulates into the stratosphere. The particulates are of a particularly nasty variety that are NEVER produced by nuclear reactors.

        There was NO Nuclear explosion at Fukishima and the chemical explosions could not have possibly put anything into the stratosphere.

        You are misinterpreting data.

        Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

        by Walt starr on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 05:45:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Let me get this out of the way now (0+ / 0-)

        Fukishima was a tragedy that points to the vunerabilities of nuclear reactors to natural disasters and everybody should be concerned as ther is not a question of IF a Fukishima style disaster will occur in the US but the question is WHEN will one happen.

        Spreading bullshit about Fukishima contaminating the west coast of the US damages the REAL issues surrounding Fukishima and only serves to insure that they will never be addressed.

        The Diarist quotes pure bullshit.

        Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

        by Walt starr on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 05:50:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hi Walt starr (6+ / 0-)

          You are factually incorrect. How would you interpret the presence of 134-Cs (a fission product) with a roughly 2-year half-life in the air over San Francisco days after the Fukushima accident?

        •  Walt... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ender, duhban, tarkangi, terrypinder

          I'm not an expert on radiation or environmental chemistry, but I am a physical scientist (and can read a scientific paper or two).

          I think you might misread the diarist. I get the takehome point that, while you can measure the result of Fukushima on the US west coast, it is at lower levels than from Chernobyl and from nuclear testing in the 1950's and 1960's.

          What things are like at the site of the disaster is a completely different story and is not a point of this diary. I think that all of us would agree that what happened at Fukushima was a disaster.

          Screw John Galt. Who's John Doe?

          by Mike Kahlow on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:21:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tragedies generally involve deaths (0+ / 0-)

          AFAIK, there have been none associated with the radiological component of the Fukushima nuclear reactor facility, and the future death toll will be minimal if Chernobyl is any guide. Given that all forms of electrical power generation, including wind and solar, carry some risk of human fatality (whether direct or indirect), it is noteworthy that nuclear energy is by far the safest widespread form of electrical power generation if measured by deaths per kilowatt-hour delivered.

          People forget that there is not a feasible choice that carries no risk of human death. Fatalities in electrical power generation are a minimization question, not an elimination question, at least until nuclear fusion becomes a viable option. In the meantime, the fear of nuclear radiation - while justified to some extent - is overblown.

          TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (Celia Israel-D)

          by Le Champignon on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:35:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How many people are still evacuated? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SoCalSal, patbahn

            I don't think you need to have deaths to have a tragedy.

            Screw John Galt. Who's John Doe?

            by Mike Kahlow on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:55:10 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  It is most certainly a tragedy (0+ / 0-)

            The environment around Fukishima will suffer for years.

            Libertarianism is just Fascism with a facelift. Scratch the surface of Libertarianism and you will find the notion that corporations should rule supreme, just as it was with Fascism..

            by Walt starr on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:52:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  This argument is shady (0+ / 0-)

            It's like a mafia don arguing that since no body has been found, the fact that he is on tape saying, "If so and so were to go away, it would be OK with me," is not relevant.

            The nuclear industry has gotten away with this "there are no bodies" BS for long enough.  There are bodies.  Plenty of them.  Why do you think pretty much everybody gets cancer now at some point when it used to be a rare disease?

            They tell me I'm pretty amusing from time to time working with 140 characters or less.

            by CharlieHipHop on Sun Mar 02, 2014 at 09:15:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Deaths from cancer on the rise (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Le Champignon

              "Why do you think pretty much everybody gets cancer now at some point when it used to be a rare disease?"

               People don't die by the thousand from diphtheria outbreaks or cholera epidemics or Spanish Flu. The graveyards are no longer filled with tombstones of children dead before they were five from scarlet fever or some other "act of God" as many communicable diseases used to be called. Nowadays we freak out when there's a tiny number of cases of non-fatal whooping cough reported in some locale.

               Folks live longer and die later thanks to modern medicine and the chances of contracting a diagnosed case of cancer increase with age. In many cases in the past folks with cancer died of "heart failure" or "general debilitation", something the doctor wrote down as cause of death because the patient had been "poorly" for a while and it wasn't worth performing an autopsy to actually find out how it happened.

               As for the belief that only man-made sources of radiation cause cancer, well... No, I won't bother trying to explain. I give up on that because it's like trying to bail out the Titanic with a leaky bucket.

        •  Walt, do shut up. (0+ / 0-)

          I find the vast majority of the reporting on Fukushima here and elsewhere hysterical and conspiracy-laden but even I know that Jay here is not even coming CLOSE to spreading bullshit and is in fact, absolutely correct.

          Dawkins is to atheism as Rand is to personal responsibility. uid 52583 lol

          by terrypinder on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 12:52:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for another informative diary! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tarkangi, Mike Kahlow, duhban, terrypinder

    My interpretation of the graphs is that the radionuclides from the Fukushima accident that made it to the West Coast have fallen to stasis levels and are no longer dropping.

    Am I correct?

    I was a little confused with the inclusion of Beryllium-7. The caption says it is included for comparison purposes. I believe that the Beryllium-7 nucleus is too tiny to be produced in any significant amount by man-made fission and is instead created in the atmosphere by radiation from the sun and other stars. I think it might be a proxy for solar radiation.

    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

    by Ender on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:34:04 PM PST

    •  Hi Ender (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tarkangi, duhban, Ender, terrypinder

      The group continues to monitor but only reported data to the end of 2012. The activities are very low indeed now.  Initially they would filter air for 24 hr with a daily sampling interval.  That interval was increased to 2 days, a week and later to a month to be able to detect current activities.  In 24 hrs about 245 m^3 of air is sampled.

      7-Be is produced naturally in the atmosphere.  It is shown for comparison as you indicate as a relatively time invariant radionuclide.

  •  Nothing to see here; move along (0+ / 0-)

    Atmospheric monitoring stations network:

    Trust (??) but verify.

    “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

    by ozsea1 on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 06:47:27 PM PST

    •  Please explain (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tarkangi, Mike Kahlow, wonmug

      both the (??) after the word 'trust', and how a network of Geiger counters are supposed to 'verify' minute levels of radioisotopes when they can't even discriminate what is producing radiation?

      •  Do you live on the West Coast? (0+ / 0-)

        We're most concerned, at this moment anyway, with atmospheric contaminants.

        Thanks for asking.

        “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

        by ozsea1 on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 07:31:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I still don't understand the relevance (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mike Kahlow, tarkangi

          of your initial comment. The data and paper linked to in this diary would seem to directly inform on your concern.

          And what is the relationship to your link to the Geiger counter network which has neither the sensitivity nor the discrimination to 'verify', as you put it, in your comment.

          I don't live on the West Coast, but I visit quite often. Does this have some relevance I'm also missing?

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