Sunday, March 27, 2011

Watching it in slo-mo...

- modified from

"Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita told reporters Sunday that leaked water in Unit 2 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant measured at 1,000 millisieverts per hour." -

U.S. nuke workers are allowed exposure of 50 mSv/year, or, 1/20th of what is being emitted each hour from water leaked from Reactor 2.

Therefore, U.S. nuke workers would be limited to total of 3 minutes of work per year in an environment this contaminated.

Because of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant crisis, Japan's (far poorer) standard for nuke workers has been raised from 100 mSv/year to 250 mSv/year, so Japan's nuke workers should be allowed to work for no more than a total of 15 minutes per year in an environment this contaminated.

15 minutes to get in, work, get out will not allow much work to get done, and they will need to "burn through" a LOT of underpaid, poorly-trained, and ill-equipped temp workers to accomplish anything.

When will someone admit that a full-on catastrophe of Chernobyl-esque magnitude is unfolding?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Evacuations, plumes, and pills, oh my...

- screen capture, live-streamed NHK-TV, 12:04PDT, 16MAR2011; reactor numbers added, and contrast enhanced

A high-level American official, the Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, recommends expanding the Fukushima nuclear disaster's evacuation area to a 50-mile radius, or ~3900 square miles (area of circle divided by 2, to include only land area):
"Mr. Jaczko’s testimony came as the American Embassy in Tokyo, on advice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Americans to evacuate a radius of 'approximately 50 miles from the Fukushima plant' and that 'the commission believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed and bleeding radiation.' As a result, he said, 'We believe that radiation levels are extremely high...'"
- New York Times
When this disaster first began, there was a map of projected nuclear fallout, based on measurements of the Chernobyl plume, at some site that I've forgotten. Interestingly, this map was yanked almost immediately, so it's no longer available, but here's a screen shot:

- screen capture, 18:24PDT, 14MAR2011

I do not vouch for the accuracy of this plume map, and indeed it may be completely bogus as claimed by the government. But, the smoke does have to go somewhere, and if it doesn't reach our homes as smoke particulates, it will bioconcentrate and may end up on our dinner plates instead. The smoke (and smoke to come) may dissipate, but it will not vanish; the radioisotopes being released will do their damage for thousands of years to come. Hopefully for the Japanese, the winds will not shift, because obviously, they are at the greatest risk of all. These winds will rain death; the only question is whose deaths that will be.

- screen capture, live-streamed NHK-TV, 12:06PDT, 16MAR2011

And, a heads-up to those seeking potassium iodide tablets: these may be useful at some point, but not so much for adults. They're more a placebo for most of us. But, check your multi-vitamin container, because you may already be consuming the recommended dose for any applicable catastrophe (150 micrograms, or mcg). It is highly recommended that no one take more than that amount, and no disaster guidelines would recommend taking more. It is certainly not worth wasting your money by buying potassium iodide at inflated prices from disaster-opportunists.


Regarding potassium iodide tablets: There is still not sufficient radioactive iodine reaching California from Japan for anyone to be consuming these tablets.

HOWEVER, I need to correct a big error in what I wrote above, which was based on incorrect information...

The dose of iodine in multi-vitamins is typically 150 mcg, BUT the dose needed for protection in the event of exposure to significant levels of radioactive I-131 is much higher:

The adult dose for such a contamination event would be 130 mg (and 1 mg = 1000 mcg). The dose for children is half or less of what's given to adults.

For complete information, please see the CDC's guidelines:

UPDATE - A map of the travel of a theoretical radioactive plume emitted from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station in Japan, from New York Times, based on data from Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, assuming the weather of this week:

- composite image of 24-hour intervals from the interactive feature provided by the New York Times, with the addition of elapsed time in hours

The model assumes a radioactive source in the middle range, of 0.1-1.0 baseline (without units), to illustrate the logarithmic reduction of intensity over time and distance. For the hypothetical emission of 1 unit, about 1/100 of that intensity would reach California in about six days, according to this model. The model stops at six days, so no further extrapolation can be made. This model does lend credence to the other plume illustration, shown above.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Don't we wish...

- (unmodified) photo taken at Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant, California, ca. 1978

Well, this is one way for humanity to learn...

- Reactor buildings #3 and #4 at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station; image captured from live-streamed newscast, 21:10 PDT 15MAR2011, NHK World (contrast and brightness enhanced)

This photo of two of the six crippled nuclear power reactors was shared by a Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) executive, shortly after the announcement that the remaining 50 workers at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant on the east coast of Japan had been evacuated, due to "spiking" radiation levels. [LATER: Workers are being "allowed" back into the site now.]

Among the six reactors, TEPCO remains unable to maintain coolant levels in most of the reactor vessels, and in some the spent fuel storage vessels (located in the "attics" of the reactor containment buildings).

There have been fires and explosions and some of the reactor vessels are assumed by TEPCO to be breached. Cesium-137 and Iodine-131 have been detected in the surrounding atmosphere, supporting the breach assumption.

The roofs of several of the buildings have been blown off, leaving the spent fuel storage vessels exposed to the environment. Spent fuel rods, and fuel rods contained within the reactors, have been left uncovered by coolant and exposed to air for varying periods on the order of hours to days. Temperatures of the fuel, spent and otherwise, is climbing, and at least several of the reactors are assumed by TEPCO to be have already begun experiencing "partial melt-downs."

The Prime Minister of Japan has stated that radiation is leaking from four of the six reactors. An area of roughly 250 square miles (area within 20 km radius, halved) with about 140,000 inhabitants according to NHK-TV has been evacuated, and an additional 300 square miles (the band between 20 and 30 km from the plant, halved) has been issued a shelter-in-place order.

Most nuclear agencies regard the evolving situation as the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, a Level 6 incident (with Three Mile Island being a 5 and Chernobyl being a 7) and expect it to worsen. Major aftershocks continue to be experienced throughout Japan, both on- and offshore (the second variety making another tsunami possible).

Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen said on CNN today that TEPCO has been trying to deal with decay heat of the spent fuel rods, but that without a supply of cooling water, the spent fuel pool could go into a criticality, a chain reaction, making the situation far worse. "It can boil dry in a day." Then "the fuel catches fire, the steel--the zirc-alloy--begins to burn and the [radioactive fuel within] volatilizes and becomes an aerosol, becomes airborne."

One source said that there are 600,000 pounds of spent fuel rods at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station, and another report stated that some or all of the buildings are too radioactive for people to enter.

The workers at this site deserve medals, but I have little confidence that they will accomplish their goal of stabilizing the situation. This may well turn into an all-new nuclear "experiment," the likes of which we've never before seen, or even imagined. The stuff of nightmares.

Monday, March 07, 2011

What’s WRONG with this picture?

What’s WRONG with this picture?

Well, since he misrepresented his platform during his campaign, I guess it’s IN character for Republican Walker to launch a site of his own for the folks who are looking for the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s site (

All the more reason to go to to donate whatever you can to the effort to recall eight Wisconsin Republican Senators...