First results from crowdfunded study shows radioactive seawater from Fukushima has NOT reached the US coast

Just two weeks ago, Ken Buesseler at WHOI launched a brilliant crowdfunded campaign “Our Radioactive Ocean” to measure radiation off the West Coast of the US. And not surprisingly, it was a huge success. In just two weeks, they have funded, sampled and tested sites in California and Washington.  And the results from the first four sites are now posted on their website.

Young scientists from California sampling seawater for the people [screenshot from ourradioactiveoceans.org]

Young scientists from California sampling seawater for the people [screenshot from ourradioactiveoceans.org]

And the results are that radioactive seawater from Fukushima has not been detected at any of the 4 sites that were sampled.  Seawater was measured for both Cesium-137 and Cesium-134. By comparing the relative concentrations of both isotopes they could figure out the source of the radioisotopes. They found very low-levels of Cesium-137, but Cesium-134 was below detectable levels, indicating the Cesium is originally from atomic bomb-testing in the 1960s rather than Fukushima.

What does this mean for the west coast right now? In the immortal words of Ken Buesseler himself…

“The reason why we see such low levels of radiation in these samples is because the plume is not here yet. But it’s coming. And we’ll actually be able to see its arrival,” Buesseler says. “That baseline data is critical.

The plume is predicted to reach the US West Coast in April 2014 and it will be “detectable but not harmful.” Samples taken off the coast of Vancouver Island in June 2013  show the plume has reached it, but the observed concentrations are at most 1 Bq/m3. In other words, 7400 times less than the EPA’s maximum concentrations for drinking water so the levels are not harmful for humans or sea life.

But it’s still important to know when the plume reaches the West Coast so scientists can understand how contaminants spread throughout the ocean. Luckily, awesome folks like Bing Gong from Point Reyes, CA had the foresight to procure enough funds to test the water for the next three years. High fives all around!

I also want to encourage people to donate and become a part of this project. It’s a great way to not only help science out, but there is the opportunity for you to do some science as well. This is especially true for locations that aren’t being sampled yet such as Alaska (Juneau, Seward and Dutch Harbor I’m talking to you!).  If you haven’t already, check ourradioactiveoceans.org for more information on radioactivity in the ocean and how you can help.

SOURCES:

Quotes from WHOI press release published January 28th http://www.whoi.edu/news-release/our-radioactive-ocean-website-update-release

https://www.pices.int/publications/presentations/PICES-2013/2013-MEQ/MEQ-1700-Smith.pdf

Kim Martini (79 Posts)

Kim is a Physical Oceanographer at the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean at the University of Washington. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2010. Her goal in life is to throw expensive s**t in the ocean. When not at sea, she uses observations from moored, satellite and land-based instruments to understand the pathways that wind and tidal energy take from large (internal tides) to small scales (turbulence).





81 comments on “First results from crowdfunded study shows radioactive seawater from Fukushima has NOT reached the US coast
  1. ‘ indicating the Cesium is originally from atomic bomb-testing in the 1960s rather than Fukushima.’

    Well done on you’re teams tests^ first time in a long time, we read a truth about the rads in the sea, ;)

    Note: that the bomb placed in one of the fault lines of Japan, was 50/60s bomb material. :|

  2. Ocean currents flow into the west coast from all different depths and directions! There is no question the radiation is soon to come to the USA’s West Coast. Also radiated fish, seals, whales and sea lions migrate faster then the ocean currents flow! Seals are already sick and full of lesions! If you are eating Pacific Ocean fish I would consider getting some high quality zeolite which is an ingestable mineral that removes radiation and heavy metals from the body! In fact detoxing with zeolite is your best bet if you feel that you have been radiated!

  3. Japan to freeze the ground at Fukushima to prevent contaminated water leakage
    January 22, 2014 Voice of Russia
    At the moment, the radiation level at the Fukushima plant and in the Fukushima plant`s neighborhood breaks all the records. In fact it’s so high that can kill a person over a period of a few hours.

    It has been already found out that more than one half of all the fishes that have been caught in the sea near Fukushima contained radioactive metals in the fishes` bodies. Moreover, radioactive substances have been discovered in the organisms of fishes and whales 1,000 kilometers away from Fukushima.

    Tokyo Electric is saying that the Fukushima accident will create NO obstacles for holding the Olympic Games which are planned to take place in Tokyo in 2020. However, experts are saying that it will take NOT lesser than 40 years to fully eliminate the consequences of the Fukushima accident and to dismantle the Fukushima plant’s reactors.

  4. Just noticed that there’s a separate group of researchers looking at the same thing: google “Kelp Watch 2014″

  5. Thanks for this article and this study!

    We (my family and I) live in Northern California at what is pretty much the most western extreme of the continental US. We consider ourselves “citizen scientists”.

    We have been doing background radiation tests here in Northern California over the last year after seeing the scare stories that are being published about radiation reaching the west coast from Japan.

    We see 30-38 CPM every day based on 10 minute average measurements. Obviously not very high!.
    I have 2 Geiger counters and a test source (30,000 CPM uraninite) so I can verify the performance of our counters at high and low levels. I am a 40 year veteran instrumentation/ test and measurement person btw.

    We also have been taking UV measurements and during summer months we are seeing extreme UV levels. Typical figures at solar noon are:
    Total irradiance: 1,350 W/m2
    UVA/UVB combined 130-200 W/m2
    UVA only 70-80 W/m2
    Which means that we are seeing almost 50% of total UV in the UVB spectra, not the 1%-5% that is supposedly to be expected.
    We also measure .22 W/m2 in the UVC spectrum.

    The reason I bring this up is that people are saying that lesions and skin damage in seals, whales, porpoise and dolphin are from Fukushima radiation, when the fact is this has been a reported phenomenon for a long time before Fukushima had any major problem, well before 2011.

    http://www.jayhanson.us/page47.htm
    http://environmentalaska.us/ultraviolet-radiation-uv.html

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_16580063
    Excerpt:
    “The beasts were showing lesions associated with sun damage, and many of their skin samples revealed patterns of dead cells associated with exposure to the powerful ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.”

    Where I live we are seeing what appears to be UV damage to tree cambium resulting in bark that looks burned off on the sunward side.

    Obviously, Fukushima is a huge problem for the environment, but definitely not the only one.

    We think that we may be more in danger of being “fried by UV” than being “fried by Fukushima”

    Again not trying to downplay the importance of the nuclear disaster, it’s just that people seem to only want ONE problem to be at fault for every problem “under the sun” when it is clear that there are more problems than Fukushima troubling our planet.

    Roger

    • “Obviously, Fukushima is a huge problem for the environment … Again not trying to downplay the importance of the nuclear disaster …”

      You should be. Everyone who can be bought is trying to up-play it.

      At http://www.biogeosciences.net/10/5601/2013/bg-10-5601-2013.pdf they figure out how much marine contamination must have occurred to give the seawater surface contamination readings they’ve been getting:

      “… The estimated total amounts of directly released 131I, 134Cs, and 137Cs were 11.1 ± 2.2 PBq, 3.5 ± 0.7 PBq, and 3.6 ± 0.7 PBq, respectively.”

      Since 11-3-2011 the 11,100,000,000,000,000 Bq of iodine-131 will have diminished below 1 Bq, but the cesium radioisotopes are much as they were, still summing to 7.1 ± 1.4 PBq.

      Is that a lot? I think it’s helpful, in understanding this, to define a new unit of radioactivity, the “fukushima”, as any radioactivity that is equal, in ionizing energy per unit time, to that of 10 PBq of cesium-137.

      Then we calculate the ocean’s natural radioactive ingredients in terms of fukushimas. For potassium-40 I get 1.4 million, and for uranium, 300,000. These two dominate; all others add up to, as I recall, less than 100,000 fukushimas.

      • A useful comparison concept on natural and artificial radioactivity in the environment.

        Note that the Cs-134 – half life 2.065 years – will now be at about 38% of its original quantity, ie. 1.3 ± 0.26 PBq total. Cs-137 will be down by only a small amount, say to 3.4 PBq. Summing to 4.7PBq.

        Also I calculated that, starting with 11.1 PBq of iodine-131, there would be zero atoms left by the second anniversary. So definitely below 1 Bq. :-)

        • “Note that the Cs-134 – half life 2.065 years – will now be at about 38% of its original quantity”

          Doesn’t that assume containment of corium, and that there have been no further leaks of cesium?

          It hasn’t been officially stated, so I won’t post a source link, but is it not widely accepted that the corium HAVE left containment, which means any model of radio isotopes in the environment that are based on the initial release, are grossly underestimated and false?

          All the ocean plume models I have seen are only taking in to account the initial releases, and are not accounting for the 300 tonnes of radioactive water that has been continuously leaking since 2011. That is the number Tepco released, so one can safely assume it’s a gross under-reporting of actual numbers.

          SOURCE: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/20/fukushima-leak-nuclear-pacific

          • Indeed, it is obvious that even without continued fission (which is likely) there has ceratinly been continuous releases which even TEPCO has stated that they have been grossly understating the releases.

  6. well they did find trace amounts of cesium in seaweed off the coast of Southern California. And they did find elevated levels of two types of cesium in seals that exhibited the “sun burned” syndrome vs low or no levels in seals that were not exhiniting those symptoms…and trees burn on the sunny side, thats a known fact and nothing new…in fact some trees exposed in a new logging areas will sun-burn towards the base of the trunk, Trees in landscapes will do the same thing when young or lets say you remove a shrub that was growing around its base…some fruit trees will sun burn also…its actually really common for trees to sun burn…

        • Hmm, the seal report doesn’t say they found elevated levels of Cesium, just that they tested for it. And the preliminary assessment for the Unusual Mortality Event says, “At this point, scientists do not believe that radiation is a primary factor in this UME or that radiation is causing the symptoms and deaths in pinnipeds.”

          http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/seals/ice/diseased/ume_radstatement0212.pdf

          Buessler’s crowdfunded project — which this blog post is actually about — is testing seawater, not kelp.

          There is a separate Kelp Project — details at http://urd.csulb.edu/press-release/story.cfm?hackid=1531 — but it doesn’t look like they’ve published anything in the three weeks since it was announced. Though Manley did find radioactive iodine from Fukushima in kelp in 2011: http://www.csulb.edu/sites/leadership/spring-2012/cal-state-long-beach-faculty-measure-radioactive-fallout-in/

        • Hi Steve, thanks, but it doesn’t say anything about elevated levels of cesium.

          “We present results on gamma analysis (cesium 134 and 137) of muscle tissue from control and diseased seals,”

          It doesn’t say what the results are, and it doesn’t say whether there is any difference between the groups of seals. Basically they are setting out the reasons they undertook the research, but not telling us the results. Maybe somewhere there is something that gives the results of this paper?

          The Woods Hole investigation has only found radiocesium from weapons tests so far.

          • Thanks steve for the link,

            This is the abstract for a poster presentation at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in January. Joffan is right, this abstract doesn’t present the results but just tells the reader what they have done.

            As far as I know the poster presentation that was given showed that Cesium-137 was detected in both healthy and sick seals at barely detectable levels (and wasn’t higher in sick seals) and at the same concentrations those tested from the 1990′s. No Cesium-134 was detected in any of the samples. In the end the conclusion was the concentration of Cs137 was too low to cause the UME.

    • Steve,
      I have been living in the forest all my life. I worked in Yosemite Nat. Park doing environmental studies when I was 20 years old.

      What we see happening to our native forest on our property and the surrounding wilderness is not simple sunburn.

      It is killing the trees.

      • Whats killing the trees..sunburn or rad. you prob mean sunburn. and where do you live geographicaly, northern california or still in the sierra’s somewhere…or another state. Point is there is alot of things killing trees in CA. like S.O.D. in northern CA, which is killing some types of Oak trees in broad areas of the wilderness from Marin to Mendocino. Also beetles have been a scourge in the Sierras on and off for years, in Yosemite N.P. also, (Pine sp) and other forrested areas of the Sierras. In both scenerios you can see from miles away (driving or open vistas hiking) the death of these trees, I mean acres of it. Do you have links to sunburn studies…I too have lived for many years in the coastal ranges of CA and actively hike and look at many healthy trees all the time…but then again there are different trees sp on the coast than the inland ranges have….By the way I have a degree in Botany, my eyes are trained.

        • Hi Steve,

          http://www.jayhanson.us/page47.htm

          “The widespread deaths of forest-dwelling species also strongly suggest an extreme ecosystem imbalance. Increasing levels of ultraviolet-B (UV-B) radiation are leaking through the thinning stratospheric ozone shield and harming not only trees. Researchers at Oregon State University have found that the frogs living in the forest pools and stream sides of the Cascade Mountains are failing to regenerate because increased UV-B radiation scrambles the cells of frog eggs, which lay uncovered in shallow water. The decline of amphibians of all types has been noted since the 1970s”

          This was written in the 1990′s. We have been taking UV measurements and we see high levels of UVB. Ours trees are showing the effects of UV damage..

          The lack of ozone is still happening. It just isn’t in the nightly news these days.

          Wonder why?

          • I did do a search for papers, found a couple more nothing conclusive…yet interesting. You know the more I think about it, its probably a combination of factors that are effecting the ecology of the forrest…its a dynamic system. So droughts on and off through out the years on the west coast, insect infestation, old and new diseases/pathologies, sp. richness decline(symbioyic relationships), pollution, and UV increase/bombardment, climate change(which we undersatnd the least of all) I would venture to say that yes the “health” of the forrest are in decline, some dying…yet all forrest are affected differently due to make-up of sp… I guess its obvious I have changed my stance and I think you are right, I believe UV damage is contributing factor to overall ecological decline… Only time will tell, like the last ice-age some forrest will make it and some wont…yet obviusly pollution is an accelorator…

  7. yes sorry about the seaweed, my bad…and the alaska marine scientist, the results were published somewhere on the net…I thought they would be in that symposium papers too. They had no conclusion… more data is needed I pressume and an understanding of the mechanism of death. They didn’t find any evidence of virus or bacterial infection common to those types of seals either…

    • Yeah, it’s easy to get it mixed up because there is a lot of misleading info out there. I am hoping the authors officially publish their findings soon. Would clear up a lot of confusion.

  8. WOW I really got things mixed up with the kelp watch and seawater sample projects, really sorry. Reading everyones reply made me think of myself as an alarmest but only for a moment. Im just trying to understand the issue of Fukushima radiation and monitering and what are the implications for the pacific ocean and the life in it and around it.

  9. A little bit late to the party here, but I found the ourradioactiveocean site a few weeks ago and am glad to hear of their progress. Was actually able to see some readings that they’ve taken over the years in and around the area of Japan that I live in. I also found a very cool visual graphic of radiation dosage and how relative it is to us. By all means please do visit the site. It’s nice to see humans working together and playing nice for a change…

  10. Headline writers don’t always pick up the subtlety in an article:

    “First results from crowdfunded study shows radioactive seawater from Fukushima has NOT reached the US coast”

    then….

    ““The reason why we see such low levels of radiation in these samples is because the plume is not here yet. But it’s coming. And we’ll actually be able to see its arrival,” Buesseler says. “That baseline data is critical.”

    So, adding that word, “yet”, to the headline would be more accurate.

    How one understands the data is critical for study design.

    Framing this carefully is especially essential for this story where sources’ credibility on all sides is being questioned.

    ….and one’s perspective as well – certainly we should be concerned if there are going to be health effects on West Coast humans – or not.

    I am also concerned from a broader perspective over geographic area, time, and species, than just, West Coast humans….

    Is DeepSeaNews following TECPO’s reported suppression of Strontium 90 data? Asahi Shimbun is a reputable newspaper, yes?

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201401090060

    “Tokyo Electric Power Co. has withheld 140 measurements of radioactive strontium levels taken in groundwater and the port of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant between June and November last year.”

    I noted the green columns for Strontium 90 in their data reports had an angled line through them last October.

    Your thoughts, Kim and Dr. M?

    • The title is true. Current observations show radiation from Fukushima has not reached the US West Coast. If you are going to hammer us about the subtleties of titles, I hope you are being consistent and taking to task articles with headlines such as
      “HOLY FUKUSHIMA – RADIATION FROM JAPAN IS ALREADY KILLING NORTH AMERICANS”
      or “28 Signs That The West Coast Is Being Absolutely Fried With Nuclear Radiation From Fukushima”

      I would also like to frame your carefully chosen quote with the following line from that article
      “TEPCO has been releasing the combined levels of all radioactive substances, including strontium, that emit beta rays, at the crippled nuclear plant. But strontium levels exceeded the all-beta readings in some instances, leading the utility to decide they were “wrong” and to withhold them from public releases, TEPCO officials said Jan. 8.”

      So yes, they aren’t releasing data because it might not be right.

      Agreed, TEPCO has not been forthcoming. And Japan is having problems with additional releases. But we know what is affecting the GREATER PACIFIC RIGHT NOW only comes from that initial release. The models have predicted the amounts will not be not harmful outside of coastal Japan and the observations from the sources at the bottom of the post agree with this.

      • *******Headline on ENE News*******
        Report: Fukushima nuclear waste will merge with radiation from U.S. reactors when washing up on West Coast — “Startling amounts” released from operating plants — Diablo Canyon officials admit to recently discharging more tritium than Fukushima (VIDEO)

        Link to article:
        http://enenews.com/report-fukushima-nuclear-waste-will-merge-with-radiation-from-u-s-plants-when-washing-up-on-west-coast-startling-amounts-released-from-operating-reactors-diablo-canyon-officials-admit-to-r

        Then, if you take the time to read it, the article says:
        PG&E spokesman Blair Jones, Feb. 3, 2014: Total liquid discharges from Diablo Canyon in 2012 were 0.0165 percent of what the NRC allows. “Tritium is produced when a reactor is operating [...] Fukushima is not operating so naturally the tritium levels are lower.”

        It is no wonder people are scared with BS like this floating around on the cesspool we fondly call the internet. This article borders on criminal activity, being so intentionally deceptive IMO.

      • Ok, another example of BS reporting from ENE News…

        http://enenews.com/florida-highest-single-day-iodine-131-concentration-station-after-fukushima

        The article title implies that they had high I131 levels FROM Fukushima.

        Lets see, iodine 131 has a radioactive decay half-life of about eight days…

        Most of us agree that I131 from Fukushima would not even pose a threat to the west coast US, let alone as far east as Florida!

        After all, eight days after release it is basically harmless. It usually takes more than 3-4 days for weather to reach the west coast US from the Sea of Japan so even at four days I131 has lost most of it’s radioactive potential.

        What I just can not fathom is this:
        Why does no one ever bring up the Sodium Reactor Experiment disaster in southern California in 1959? This happened at the Rocketdyne Santa Susanna field research site in Simi Valley.

        This partial meltdown and subsequent releases exposed literally millions of people to very potent, fresh I131.

        Yet was kept secret from the public for around 50 years!!!!

  11. Whoops, to clarify my own writing, when I said, “we should be concerned if there are going to be health effects on West Coast humans – or not” , I meant, is there reason to think we should be concerned about West Coast humans, not just, should we be concerned about West Coast humans…..! ;)

  12. Why is it that very few want to bring to light any of the progress, (however minute) that the workers and the people actually on the ground are making in Fukushima? Doesn’t anyone want to see this mess cleaned up? Most citizens of Japan are a very docile people, they do not think highly of their government and complain just like we Americans, but they are a very trusting people. Some would say that they are just sheep believing all the lies that the government tells. From my own insight and as a long term resident of Ibaraki, I tend to think that they (we) are pulling for our home team. Rally around the home team people.

    Seems that many on the outside looking in, want this “team of international super-experts” who will immediately fix the problem 30 times faster, despite their language and cultural barriers. Working together with the barbaric, backwards, and conniving Japanese scientists, they promise transparency! And vow to fix this problem by next week.

    In all honesty, Do you really think that adding a few more cooks to the kitchen is really going to help fix the problem? Think about it, seriously. Do you really think that the Japanese government is not doing its ultimate utmost in order to fix, clean up, and rectify a severely damaged nuclear power plant that sits directly in the middle of its east coast, as quickly and as efficiently as possible? A location a few hours drive away from one of the most heavily populated cites on this earth?

    What would I know though right? From what I hear, ALL Japanese are just a bunch of dolphin slaughtering fish mongers, who have no recollection of their war hawk past, withholding secrets from an environmental catastrophe, in order to secretly and slowly irradiate all of its citizens slowly over the course of 30 years, decimating the population, so that a bunch of kooks, can in effect stop all advances in technology so that they could continue to drive classic V-8s to work, drink coffee harvested with the *blooooooood of Colombian children’s fingertips, and look at the pictures in expensive magazines discarding them quickly after, believing recycling as just a myth. *notice the Dracula tone in my voice…buahahahaha.

    Sorry about that, especially this last paragraph, no idea where that came from. I think I’ve had too much coffee.

    I’m pretty sure my comments have no scientific basis whatsoever, purely insight and conjecture. I’m pretty sure you won’t post this comment, but I’m pretty sure I like all the hard work you guys are doing. In closing, my name is Kirk. I live in Japan, and I ate fish last night.

    I work here http://www.ed.city.kasama.ibaraki.jp/jh-minami/ we take radiation readings every week and post the results here for parents and anybody else interested. (it’s the last tab on the right, it will come up as “radiation measurements” if you google translate the page) This particular school is about a 40 minute drive from Oarai, which is a beach community on the East Coast of Japan, In Ibaraki Prefecture (the prefecture directly south of Fukushima Prefecture). There are several public schools there in Oarai, and I am pretty sure they do the same thing every week with their own equipment. We use a hand held device here, and I’ve gone out to test with the VP on several occasions. There is no air of panic and fear in Japan. Kaiten sushi restaurants are open and in full swing. Fish and seafood stock in supermarkets have returned to pre-earthquake levels. Why? Because we ALL love the bloooooood of dolphins.

    • Hi Kirk,
      We live in northern California and have been taking radiation readings that are relatively low considering we live directly east of a decommissioned nuke plant on the coast here.

      We get a lot of people telling us we have to be wrong or we work for the gov. or even that we work for Tepco!

      Our continent was not clean before the accident in Japan. If you look a the radiation readings across the US and Canada there are higher radiation readings every day in the larger cities. If you look at sites away from large cities the numbers go down.

      On the west coast of this continent the rads are lower than many sites in the Midwest and the East Coast. We have pointed this out many times but no one seems to notice or care.

      People in Texas say Californians are stupid because we are not upset about readings here when it is higher where they live.

      Reminds me of the old newspapers that my father kept from the end of WWII. All the out of control propaganda and hate against the Japanese.

      Frankly, I am very embarrassed and angry by the way the people of my country about reacting to this.

      Very uniformed and brainwashed.

    • [email protected]

      Kirk,
      I looked at the radiation measurements at your school. They are quite low! Here, we are using the CPM measurement, so I converted the higher numbers you give which are around 0.150 uSv/hr.

      That comes out to 15 CPM! Here we see around 34-40 CPM every day, so you are seeing less than half the radiation we get on the west coast…

      OK, I can see it now:
      ***** Breaking News*****
      WEST COAST GETTING HIGHER RADIATION THAN JAPAN… FUKUSHIMA RADIATION SUSPECTED

      Hahahaha

      Sorry, the ignoramuses posting their false radiation stories have turned on my sarcasm generator!

      Getting my second cup…

    • Uh, 3 years later, and the “progress” is that they are admitting that all their test results have been lies? And dumping massive strontium into the ground water, which means into the ocean.

      They reacted properly at Chernoybl. They are doing a shitty job at Fukushima. its a freaking company, a shareholder held company still interested in maximizing profits. How stupid it that!

      • “They reacted properly at Chernoybl”

        It happened on April 26 1986, Moscow reported it 2 days later, April 28 1986.

        This is not at all a good or timely response, a lot happens in 2 days with respect to nuclear accidents.

        And, Chernobyl and Fukushima are apples and oranges.

        Chernobyl was a “Ferme Stack” reactor. An above ground arrangement of graphite blocks which blew out into the atmosphere directly.

        Fukushima is a BWR (boiling water reactor) that acts in a completely different manner when compromised.

        Look at the Sodium Reactor Experiment partial meltdown at the Rocketdyne Santa Susanna Field site in Simi Valley in 1959.

        They exposed millions of LA residents to heavy amounts of iodine 131 and strontium 90, causing widespread thyroid damage amongst the population.

        They kept it secret for 50 years! And, unlike in Great Britain who hosted the Windscale nuclear plant disaster in the early 1960s, they decided not only to keep the public in the dark but they went ahead and distributed milk from a nearby dairy to stores and schools in the north Los Angeles area.

        In the Windscale disaster, they alerted the citizens immediately and destroyed the milk from nearby dairies.

        So, remind me again why the response in Japan was so bad?

        • Uh, because they lied, they moved slow, they did not dedicate an army of people to solve the problems, they tried to do it “on a budget”, they couldn’t buy car batteries, they delayed pumping the saltwater because they didnt want to damage their assets. They are clowns, very dangerous clowns.

          • Uh, have you publicly corrected your erroneous measurements that you posted elsewhere? If you didn’t correct them over at ENE News, could I assume you were being deceitful?

            There is a big difference between 270 CPM and 27 CPM… You were saying that you saw 270-380 CPM when you did not divide by the ten minutes in your total ten minute counts. You put CPM in your post, and I wonder if you posted that same thing over at ENE?
            (assuming you are the same poster using the moniker stock there on ENE News as here)

            ENE thrives on inflated or falsely represented readings…

            I have caught many lies being touted as “news” at the ENE News website!

            You can’t possibly use ENE as an information source can you?

          • Hi Stock.

            Forums on technically and emotionally difficult topics like radioactive contamination need more than good moderation. “On the wing” constructively corrective editing is called for (to help contributors make a valid points). Heck: I need that kind of help.

            I’m imagining that, both the original contribution and the edited/helped version (with any needed comments) would normally be posted.

            Deliberate trolling might be disarmingly neutered with such assistance.

  13. This just in (Feb 7) on TEPCO Sr-90 data: Tokyo Electric Power Co. corrected its radioactivity readings for groundwater from a well at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to a record-high 5 million becquerels of strontium per liter.

    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402070096

    And no, I try not to give the scaremongering pages not based in science any more attention and clicks than they get already – there are plenty of people debunking them. (Some of ‘em sound so nuts I think they could be a ‘false flag’ operation!)

    Of all the sites I’ve been following, I have the most hope for Deep Sea News to speak calm science on behalf of marine ecology.

    Kim says, “we know what is affecting the GREATER PACIFIC RIGHT NOW only comes from that initial release.”

    If Dr. Buessler believes radioactive material from the initial release will reach the West Coast in a little over a month, then it will have passed through the GREATER PACIFIC RIGHT NOW, right?

    Or perhaps you are saying it is too dilute to affect it? OK, that case can be made.

    All I am asking is for attention to the risk potential of the ongoing releases, which could go on for decades. If we de-scope that issue we will not be monitoring the right data nor taking the right remedial actions

    I have hope for the ice wall (lozenge-shaped, around Reactors 1, 2, and 3, to divert groundwater around the contamination). It is being built by robots in saturated soil, tho. And some fear disrupting the hydrologic regime of groundwater flow and saturated soil could cause site sinkage.

    Prayers for the workers, engineers and planners there. I’m sure they are doing the best they can.

  14. These are some numbers I can work with. There is a very concentrated amount of Strontium in the contaminated groundwater, but when we compare it to how much was initially released it it is indeed a small amount. Here’s how the numbers stack up:

    - Concentration of Sr in contaminated groundwater 5 million Bq/L

    - Estimated mass of contaminated groundwater, 300 tons or 272000 kg. Converts to a volume of 272000 L.

    - Total inventory of Strontium in the contaminated groundwater 136.0 GBq

    If all the groundwater was released into the Pacific at the same time (which is VERY unlikely), it would still be about 600 times less than the lowest estimate of Strontium that was released initially in 2011 (90-900 TBq).

    Dilution is the key here. If that initial release is dilutes out over a 100 km by 100 km area to only 100 m deep, Strontium concentrations get back to pre-Fukushima levels of 1 Bq/m^3 (0.001 Bq/L). When diluted further over just a fraction of the Pacific, it will be even less.

    There is additional input from terrestrial sources, but again they are very small when compared to the contaminated groundwater.

    These numbers indicate that yes, the contaminated groundwater is still problematic locally for Japan but not for anywhere else.

  15. I do not have the skills to convert these mass concentrations, but does your assumption include that the contaminated groundwater discharge is estimated at 300 tons PER DAY? (I’ve done quite a bit of groundwater work and volumes are extremely difficult to measure.)…your phrasing seems to indicate it is 300 tons total.

    “..The tank leaks come as Tepco struggles to halt the flow, some 300 tons a day, of highly radioactive groundwater into the Pacific…”

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/20/national/tepco-yet-to-track-groundwater-paths/#.UvUZv_ldWSo

    This article, which pre-dates the media blackout, has great graphics, too.

    About 400 tons per day of water – cooling plus ground plus rain when it rains – is being pumped into the tanks.

    They still can’t get the ALPS to work to treat the water so they have a storage crunch.

    This is an “operations” analysis issue – day after day after day….

  16. That figure, giving water measurements in tons is very misleading. Having been in the water and industrial/environmental fields most of my life, I was surprised to see tons used for the contaminated water storage measurement at Fukushima.

    We usually use gallons or as large providers use, MGD (millions of gallons per day)

    The water being pumped through the perforated reactor structures at Fukushima, 400 tons per day would equal in gallons:
    400 Metric tons= 105,668 gallons per day
    400 US tons= 95,860 gallons per day

    That’s roughly 100,000 gallons per day to store!!
    And most of it is extremely radioactive.

    If I understand the situation, the groundwater from the mountains east of the plant adds immensely to that and is not included in the “400 tons per day” figure.

    I felt as if someone was trying to pull a fast one using tons as a liquid measure to keep the numbers from appearing too alarming. But maybe it is common in that part of the world to use tons as liquid measure for larger amounts of water?

    So, they have around 1,000 tanks that hold around 78,000 gallons each.

    That means each tank can not even hold one days worth of waste! That means they have only 780 days of storage capacity. That’s only a little over 2 years.

    It’s all in the perspective…

    • Agreed, the use of tons of seawater is somewhat odd. But I am thinking they use it because it’s easier for the general public to understand than liters.

      • Kim, not to get on your shite list, but never in my 30 year engineering experience have I ever seen tons used in water measurement except dispacement by ships.

        And yes, half my family is Japanese, and no, none of them have any idea what a ton of water is, although everyone knows what a liter is. Stating the leakage in liters would be a scary high number.

    • Yes, cubic feet per second (cfs in the US) or cubic meters per second (cms in the UK) are more typically used. A search on -groundwater flow metrics- reveals some interesting articles on hydraulic or piezometric head.

      Like much in the story of Fukushima, the “tons per day” figures was picked up, cited and recited. As smart as these good folks are, I don’t blame them for shying away from piezometric head!

      With Dr. Lake Barret’s approach of “outside in”, it doesn’t seem the groundwater flow volume estimate, or that of its contamination, is on anyone’s agenda anytime soon.

      This is a well-written article from a credible source, focusing on the site itself and robotics. But it captures well how many things are going on requirement management. Water, groundwater, the inoperative ALPS, and the tank “storage crunch” are my major concerns.

  17. Thank you, all, for your dedication to truth in your research and quality authentic and well-documented reporting. As a former resident of Tokyo with close friends and business colleagues in Fukushima, and a spouse that travels there annually on business, I GREATLY appreciate your due diligence.

    Thank you for adding me to your email for future announcements of further discoveries.

    Warm regards, Kristin

  18. I tested 1/2 gallon of sea water from Hawaii (taken near Diamond Head) and did (10) 10 minute counts in air, the 10 10 minute counts over the evaporated salt and residue.

    240 to 270 CPM in air

    350 to 380 CPM over the salts

    • Hi Stock,
      You mention doing 10 minute counts, but posted in CPM so I have to ask if those counts are averaged over the 10 minutes?

      When you do a timed average count, giving CPM you use this math:
      Total count / number of minutes = CPM

      If that is what you did do you saw:
      2,400-2,700 total counts (air)
      3,500-3,800 total counts (salt)

      That’s fairly high, similar to Laredo Texas which is at 240 CPM today but less than Raleigh NC which is at 421 CPM today.

      For example,
      East of the Rockies:
      Raleigh NC 421 CPM
      Laredo Tx 240 CPM
      Knoxville Tn 210 CPM
      Charlotte NC 249 CPM
      Concord NH 217 CPM
      Montgomery AL 218 CPM
      Tallahassee FL 325 CPM

      West coast:
      Whitehorse CA 19 CPM
      Juneau AK 140 CPM
      Terrace CA 16 CPM
      Surrey CA 22 CPM
      Seattle WA 25 CPM
      Olympia WA 97 CPM
      Portland OR 172 CPM
      Tualatin OR 13 CPM
      Corvallis OR 165 CPM
      Redmond OR 14 CPM
      Grants pass OR 19 CPM
      Eureka CA 153 CPM
      Windsor CA 13 CPM
      San Francisco CA 208 CPM
      San Pedro CA 17 CPM
      Santa Monica 18 CPM
      Honolulu HI 85 CPM

      Overall very much higher in the east, and overall higher in cities, both east and west.
      There is most certainly a pattern emerging here.

      • Good commentary Roger, sorry for being short in prior posts. The CPM also varies a lot based on the measuring instrument used to detect.

        I was using a Radiation Alert Inspector integral pancake type GM tube. Those using a Gamma scint will get a lot more CPM, so its kind of tricky unless you know source of info

  19. Roger, a little over 2 years is very concerning…I hope they get this party moving!

    Fukushima!! Fukushima!! Fukushima!!
    Sorry guys, I’m still trying to get my rally cry going.

    Thank you for the breakdown though, seriously. I haven’t seen or heard the “gallon” on a daily basis for about 8 years now. It really does put it in perspective. Seriously thank you though. That’s a lot of water that is going to go into the ocean, eventually. I wish I could find you a link but I read somewhere that they are continually finding new ways to decontaminate water…kind of suck at this source citing business. http://ajw.asahi.com is a great newspaper/website that I continually check up on though. I guess the question is, how fast can they do it versus how much water is coming through?

    Thank you for your thoughts too Karen. It’s my country too, born and raised in Southern California. My parent’s house is in Long Beach, just a few hours drive north of San Onofrey. I know it has been decommissioned recently too, but after my family and left Japan for a few weeks after the earthquake, I couldn’t help buy into that paranoia. I went a bit rabid and spent about 2000 USD, buying emergency supplies for them, as well as my own family for when we eventually returned to Eastern Japan, I even got a hold of some iOSAT potassium iodide tablets through the net (never took them though). I believe SONGS is a decommissioned plant as of a few years ago, but I am pretty sure there is still radioactive material on site, just being stored. If anybody can correct me please do. Nonetheless, we all still have to be prepared, especially Californians.

    Being in Japan during and directly after that quake, really made an impact on me. No power and no electricity for an extended and unknown amount of time, has a very humbling effect on people. We live in such a very industrialized society, if you take a step back its kind of unbelievable the advancements mankind has made in just over 100 years. We have however, unfortunately been destructively and irresponsibly consuming and burning anything and everything along the way though. The population has exploded. Average life span has increased dramatically. Along with that the rate of cancer and other serious disease has also skyrocketed. That is indeed the huge concern that everyone is worried about these days isn’t it? How to reduce my cancer risk? What foods to eat, what foods to avoid…etc, and then you have radiation….nuclear radiation. Such a hot inflammatory subject isn’t it? Nuclear power. As a human and a resident of Earth, I wonder how far we will get on the back of coal and natural gas power? How much carbon can we keep pumping into the environment, before it really starts fighting back? And really how safe is Nuclear Power? How fast can cleaner energy sources become viable?

    I really hope and pray for the people trying to fix the situation up there in Fukushima. I have faith that human life will trump profits and greed. One would only be a complete fool to think that they are not trying everything humanly possible and as quickly as possible, I hope they learn as much as they can and advance. My family and I Can only have faith, that the government isn’t irradiating us all to an early death, by letting us consume vast amounts of seafood, and letting our children swim and play in our local beaches.

    In closing, I ate fish again last night.
    It was really good.

    • Thanks for paying attention, yes those are the 10 minute total clicks using a Radiation Alert Inspector integral pancake type GM tube, not the most sensitive, but pretty good, held about 1/4″ to 1/2″ above the salt sample.

      • Hi Stock:

        “240 to 270 CPM in air”
        That is not CPM that is total counts.
        This averages to 24 to 27 CPM

        “350 to 380 CPM over the salts”
        That is not CPM that is total counts.
        This averages to 35 to 38 CPM

        This is around the same amount of decay particle/gamma/x ray counts we see on the northwest coast US. Not completely clean by any stretch but no hazard… yet.
        Btw, I am using a detector with integral pancake sensor as well.

        Re the fluid measurements:
        We professionals use many units of measure. It usually depends on the magnitudes involved.

        Domestic wells are usually measured in GPM (gallons per minute) of recovery after pump-down.

        Irrigation canals for agriculture are measured in hundreds of GPM or in CFS (cubic feet/second)

        AF (acre feet) is a term used for a static stored amount not usually for flows.

        In any case liters is a common unit as well.

        Conversion is bonehead simple, the basis of SCADA. In that field always start with raw data which represents the digital count value present on, for example, a 16 bit analog converter input ranging from 0 – 65,535, then assign the conversion math to arrive at the desired engineering units.

        Many of our software displays have strip charts that display the same data in GPM, CFS, MGD etc.
        Then we have accumulators that display the totals in gallons, AF or whatever the user desires.

        That is just for liquid flows and volumes.

        Gas and toxic substance analysis can be in many different units of measure, PPM, PPB etc. As in the formaldehyde spill in northern California that I worked on after the fact installing SCADA support equipment for the MicroTox analyzer that sampled water from the Russian River, then applied the sample water to bioluminescent bacteria cultures.
        The bacteria would dim by a precise amount depending on how much formaldehyde was present.

        The MicroTox was a complete robotic environmental test laboratory, one of only three in the world at the time. The other two were in Canada and on the Themes river in GB.

        So, it really matters not which engineering units we use as long as we take the time to convert to what we are familiar with so we can have a mental picture of the magnitude of the process being assessed.

        In radiation measurement, we always use averaged counts over time, such as counts per minute, nano Sieverts per hour…

        It is very important that we clearly define what we are reporting, and also offer conversions to other units if deemed appropriate.

  20. Hi Kirk,

    Very thoughtful post! Thanks, it is good to connect with thinking people. I have friends and customers in Japan, know a little about the culture and the people.
    It hurts deeply to lose that culture by way of greedy modern technological destruction OR disasters.
    But both of these and other issues threaten all of our health, health of our children and cultural assets as well in our world.

    I also was pretty scared after the disaster, and finally bought some good measurement gear to assess the threat level to my family and myself. After my initial fear rush waned, and common sense once again prevailed, and of course after we started measuring I felt a lot less fearful.

    Facts such as iodine 131 can not reach the US in a meaningful way from Japan kept me from taking iodine tablets. We don’t want extra iodine unless we need it because it goes directly to the thyroid. Iodine isn’t good in high doses.

    Then the fact that even 50 miles away from Fukushima, radiation levels are normal. If the fear mongers were correct that the US was being highly irradiated, most of Japan and western Asia would have been dead or dying long before the first reports of US injury would be reported, giving us the benefit of time, grim as that is.

    Then I started researching existing US nuclear levels and was shocked to see that most US cities all the way to the east coast are more radioactive than towns in Japan that are far enough from Fukushima to be unaffected.

    I assume that is because Japan has only used nuclear science for power and medicine, where the US has used it for WMDs. We have detonated 2,050 nuclear bombs here and abroad!!! This is outrageous!
    Everyone must see this video, PLEASE!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W_lLhBt8Vg

    We often hear bashing of the Japanese government and TEPCO for hiding information with the arrogant insinuation that here in America that kind of thing wouldn’t happen… Covering up, lying about the severity and all that… Yeah, right.

    In 1959, Rocketdyne exposed millions of Californians to massive radioactive contamination when their Simi Valley test reactor, known as the “Sodium Reactor Experiment” went critical with a partial core meltdown, and many subsequent releases after that.
    A local dairy had been heavily contaminated with iodine 131 and they went ahead and packed and delivered the contaminated milk to households and schools all over the northern LA area.

    See this article:
    http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=06-P13-00003&segmentID=1

    It is MOST important to remember that before Fukushima, the Simi Valley disaster was one of the 3 largest releases of iodine 131 in the history of nuclear power, research and all other nuclear pursuits. And yet it was kept secret for 50 years!!!!!

    The other 2 are Chernobyl and the Windscale disaster in the UK.

    I did not include Fukushima because the article was written before the Japan quake of 2011. It may be #4.

    The big difference here is that in the Windscale disaster, they destroyed the milk and told the people about the disaster. Here in America, they decided that we didn’t rate high enough to be told.

    This thought burns in my mind when I see backward, illiterate people bash Japan over transparency.
    And the fact that my wife was there at 7 years old, sustained injury from exposure to iodine 131 and eventually had to undergo radical thyroidectomy surgery. Her health is compromised, and will be for the rest of her life.

    So, do we move to coal power? NO!!! Not on my watch!

    Geothermal, wind and solar could, if properly implanted supply ALL power to Japan and the US for that matter. That would require us to de-throne the monopolistic coal, oil and nuclear industries and take our planet back. That’s the hard part, but I would imagine there are more and more people every day who are fed up with this forced dependence on dirty power,

    Where I live, geo thermal power supplies 60% of the demand of the coastal region from the Golden Gate in San Francisco to the Oregon border. That one geo thermal site can generate up to 1,517 MW of power!..

    I read people saying that these types of power would never meet the demands of our population, and they won’t unless we implement them.

    With reference to nuclear, coal and oil power we have a pretty bad mess both in Japan and the US. Not to mention disasters that are still being hidden which we will find out about later, no doubt.

  21. Kirk,
    Forgot to thank you for the link!
    Beside the data, some great recipes!

    Also forgot to mention hydroelectric power.
    Where we live, we are 100% supplied by hydro for our electricity. Our situation is unusual, but it is nice to know that our electricity is a little cleaner, less impactful that the others.

    So, replace coal, oil and nuclear power with geothermal, wind, solar and hydro.

    I think the populations could adapt and conserve energy, use less, and we could make it through this intact knowing that we are doing our best to care for our planet.

  22. Kim confirmed to me offline (I don’t like calling people out on errors) that her calculations on the post beginning “…These are some numbers I can work with” were based on 300 tons of groundwater *total*, not per day, as is the case. She is on travel but has promised to correct the post.

    So, if one assumes the rest of those calculations, and their conclusion that the volume of Sr-90 in the groundwater was 1/600th of that during the initial release, then, the amount equivalent to the initial release would have been surpassed on Day 600, or October 31, 2012. We are on Day 1069 now.

    And the August ’13 value of 5,100,000 Bq/m3 may be an anomoloy, but according to the article below:

    Tepco: No. 1 plant readings probably too low
    KYODO
    FEB 8, 2014

    The bulk of the radiation measurements taken at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant since March 2011 will be reviewed because they were taken improperly and are probably too low, Tokyo Electric Power Co. revealed….Ono described the data up for review as “massive” and said the utility plans to start the review from the beginning of the nuclear crisis in March 2011 up to October last year, when it started preparing manuals on proper measurement procedure.”

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/08/national/tepco-no-1-plant-readings-probably-too-low/#.UvkB6_ldWSo

    There is some really interesting detail on “counting misses” and dilutions for monitoring wonks.

  23. This website’s data source is http://ourradioactiveocean.org/

    I would like to bring attention to the following quote from that website:

    “First there should be no health concerns associated with swimming in the ocean as a result of Fukushima contaminants by themselves or as a result of any additional, low-level radioactive dose received from existing human and natural sources of radiation in the ocean (existing levels of cesium-137 are hundreds of times less than the dose provided by naturally occurring potassium-40 in seawater). – See more at: http://ourradioactiveocean.org/results.html#sthash.eUTbLRBQ.dpuf&quot

    The sentence begins with “should”, which is supposition, not a statement of fact. I have concerns over this supposition due to the mention of potassium-40.

    This statement would suggest that because natural K-40 is far more concentrated in our oceans then Cm-137, that the CM-137 “Should (not be a health) concern”

    This statement is misleading. Our bodies have evolved, dealt with, and recognize Potassium-40. Our bodies have the means to regulate our internal concentrations of this element, and it does not pose any health risk. Be it an external source, like swimming in the ocean, or an internal source, like eating a banana.

    “A healthy human body will easily balance out any increased potassium intake. That means, eating a lot of bananas or other potassium sources will not increase the intracellular potassium concentration.”

    SOURCE:
    http://www.currentconcerns.ch/index.php?id=825

    Cesium-137 on the other hand, is deadly. This is an unnatural, man made element that our bodies do NOT recognize. It should NEVER be compared to K-40, and any publication doing so is immediately discredited.

    “When people dismiss the effects of Cesium-137 by comparing it to the radioactive Potassium-40 in a banana, they fail to account for the strength of the radioactivity. It is like saying a single stick of dynamite and the bomb dropped at Hiroshima amount to the same thing.

    Potassium-40 = 71 ten millionths Curies per gram
    Cesium-137 = 88 Curies per gram
    Strontium-90 = 140 Curies per gram
    So the effects of Cesium-137 are about 10 million times more radioactive than Potassium-40.”

    SOURCE:
    http://whatisradiation.com/nuclear-fallout/effects-of-cesium-137.html

    What we have from http://ourradioactiveocean.org/ is an assertion that Cesium-137, a radioactive element that is 10 million times more radioactive than Potassium-40, is safe because it is hundreds of times less concentrated. That is a purposeful and misleading statement, to confuse the average reader in to thinking that low levels of Cesium-137 are safe.

    Cesium-137 is not only millions of times more radioactive, but because it is man-made and unrecognized by our bodies, it bio-accumulates. Bio accumulation is the build up of concentration in living organisms. Cesium-137 mimics Potassium in the body, and so is absorbed in to muscle tissues like the heart and brain. It’s effects on the heart are well documented following Chernobyl.

    The point being that regardless of the “acceptable human dosages” that are made up by our governing bodies, there is no safe level of Cesium-137 for the human body. It bio-accumulates in the ocean, and every dose you get bio-accumulates in you. Acceptable dosages are based upon external sources, which by themselves are quite harmless. But the same dosages are also used for internal exposure, which does not take in to account the bio-accumulation, and are complete non-sense.

    Cesium-137 has never been safe, nor will it ever be safe, at any level of internal exposure. Regardless of whether or not the currently detected levels of Cm-137 are from the bomb testing of the past, or from Fukushima, it remains a deadly radioactive element, and should NEVER be compared to K-40.

    If you require more sources I will gladly follow-up.

    Please question everything you read, everywhere you read it. Accepting any information from any source with out following up yourself is folly. Only the people who search for the truth will find it.

    • Yep, that K40 is just a continuation of the “Banana Lie”, sheesh, they even pulled out the Banana lie for the plutonium posioning at WIPP

  24. “monitoring wonks”

    Huh? As a lifer environmental monitoring person, I am trying to figure out if I should be offended or not, lol

    This discipline isn’t taken lightly by we who are part of it!

  25. very, very intelligent people on this post. Learning new things everytime I re-visit.

    I ate fish again last night.
    Dangit!

  26. * At the slow loading linked URL for WHOI’s initial results:

    > http://ourradioactiveocean.org/results.html

    I see about 16 hunt-n-seek options for us to spin our wheels trying to find those first results.

    I’d appreciate a simple, fast loading list –please.

    * I see no contact information there, so I’m lodging my comment for them here (and thank you for this space/forum).

  27. Hello again (even if I’m just talking to myself here).

    * I’ve found more time to spend with DSN: one of the more rewarding Internet experiences –which I hope many others will so discover (among that blizzard of new web sites and pages every day).

    * I’d rather talk about that sunken treasure of an ecosystem (re: “the sinking of the HMS Sussex”), but I first need to get my bearings with respect to the subject at hand: the Fukushima plume.

    * I did manage to find contact information at Dr. Buesseler’s WHOI web site, where I lodged the following question –essentially: where does the cited drinking water limit of “7,400 Bq/m^3″ for cesium 134/137 come from?

    I repeat my question here, per Dr. McClain’s kind invitation –and on the chance that some reader has a handy answer. (Yes: I’ve been all over the EPA web site trying to ferret out that standard.)

    * My problem with it is:

    ~ The old EPA MCL for radium 228/226 was 3 pCi/Liter –and I see it’s been raised to 5, but that still only pencils out to 185 Bq/m^3 –40 times less radioactivity.

    ~ Are we all really okay with 7,400 Bq/m^3 of Cs-134/137 in our drinking water –or is this actually coming from the new “PAGs” guidance for mitigating disasters? (Those PAGs appear to be many pages of gobbledegook waffling with unclear specificity and authority.)

    ** It could be that I’ve made a stupid math mistake, or maybe I’m simply unaware of how user/drinker friendly radio cesium actually is.

    Craig

  28. Hi Craig, It took some digging, but I did find the estimate for EPA drinking water concentrations although I needed to do some conversions to get there. From http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/nwp/gwcontaminants.htm#Cesium :

    “EPA has established a maximum contaminant level of 4 millirem per year for beta particle and photon radioactivity from man-made radionuclide’s in drinking water. Cesium-137 would be covered under this MCL. The average concentration of cesium-137 which is assumed to yield 4 mrem/year is 200 picocuries per liter.”

    The conversion for 200 picocuries/liter is 7400 Bq/m^3.

    Is that amount of radiation safe? The annual dose rate of 40 millirem/year is equivalent to 4 microsieverts/year. For comparison, you get the same amount of radiation on 1 flight from LA to NY (http://xkcd.com/radiation/). With that in mind, I think it’s an acceptable limit.

    It’s also hard to compare concentrations of Radium to Cesium, as they emit different types of radiation (alpha and beta particles respectively) which harms living tissue differently. Its better to think in effective dose rates (rems or sieverts) which is a measure of the harm on living tissue.

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