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sydneyst
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 Posted: Mon Mar 28th, 2011 05:40 pm

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Brazil Demonstration for Renewable Energy
Brazilians stand in solidarity with Japan, call for a renewable future


from Climate350.org


 
Blog post from Paula Collet, 350.org Brazil Director:
 
São Paulo, March 24th of 2011 – Several civil society organizations gathered together last night in seven Brazilian cities for a silent, peaceful vigil with candles and flowers in solidarity with Japan, and for a clean energy (and non-nuclear!) future.
 
In Sao Paulo, over 100 people gathered in the traditionally Japanese neighborhood of the country's largest city.  The vigil was organized by Matilha Cultural, EcoGreens and 350.org, groups that came together and started planning after feeling motivated by seeing the suffering of Japan's people due to the recent earthquake and the ongoing nuclear disaster there. “This is a question that Brazil's society will have to answer now also, as our government pushes forward in investing billions of reals [Brazilian currency] of public money for the construction of a new nuclear energy plant called Angra 3 and others”, said Rebeca Lerer, antinuclear activist and Matilha Cultural’s director.
 
The popular manifestation had also the support of several Brazilians organizations such as Greenpeace, SOS Mata Atlântica, IDEC, Vitae Civilis.  “We started the mobilization with 3 cities and the movement spread really fast until we had vigils going on simultaneously in seven capitals with the support of several organizations” said André Amaral, anti- nuclear activist and EcoGreens director. “The message is simple: we can’t stand still! This is the moment to put pressure on the Brazilian government to follow Germany, China and other countries who are taking this moment to learn and stop the construction of nuclear plants”.
 
Brazil is facing an important choice also. The Brazilian Nuclear Program that was created during the military dictatorship is expensive and unsafe.  In 2007, Lula’s government decided to reinitiate the approval process of the Angra 3 plant, which happened without transparency, public consultation, approval in the National Congress, and was in disagreement with the Federal Constitution.  
 
We don't need to take the path towards nuclear energy - we are a country with incredible renewable energy potential, enough to generate twice the electricity used nowadays with wind energy alone. Investing in expensive and unsafe nuclear energy is a waste of time for us at a moment when we need energy security and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.  We urgently want the approval of the Renewable Energy Program Law, which has been stalled in the National Congress since 2009, that will create the right economic conditions for a renewable energy future that will be safe and provide jobs here in Brazil.
 

 
For more photos and coverage of the events, please click here.

Last edited on Mon Mar 28th, 2011 05:40 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Sat Mar 19th, 2011 05:04 pm

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Japan Radiation Risk Evaluated by Fred Hutchinson Epidemiologist

Past events have helped researchers pinpoint when radiation exposure gets dangerous.


http://news.discovery.com/human/nuclear-radiation-health-110318.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1

by Emily Sohn
Fri Mar 18, 2011 04:02 AM ET



THE GIST

  • Exposure to radiation can cause a range of health effects, from acute gastrointestinal illness to cancer.
  • Nuclear events from the past are helping experts predict and prevent medical fall-out from the current crisis in Japan.
  • Radiation dose levels at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have been moderate so far, but it could get worse.
 





Nuclear accidents are measured in their severity with the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. ...For now, the biggest health concerns in Japan face cleanup workers and residents who live in a 12 to 50-mile radius from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Those groups may face elevated risks of thyroid problems, leukemia and other cancers in the years and decades to come.

Looking to help the victims of the disaster in Japan? Make your contribution to GlobalGiving's relief fund here.

...If the situation worsens, though, health threats will become much more serious, far more widespread and potentially fatal. Depending on wind and weather patterns, effects could reverberate as far as the western United States. And once radiation settles into the Earth, it can persist for thousands or millions of years.

"If [the situation] does change to the extent that they had a full-blown meltdown of the entire core and an explosion, then that would be another Chernobyl," said Scott Davis, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle. "Then, it's a different ballgame."

Scientists measure radiation dose levels with units called millisieverts, or mSv. Because radiation streams toward us all the time from outer space and from the Earth's crust -- along with small discharges from medical facilities, nuclear power plants, and other man-made sources -- most people are exposed to background levels ranging between 1 and 10 mSv over the course of a year, depending on the area and the altitude.

One chest X-ray delivers 0.1 mSv just to a single part of the body, said medical physicist James Hevezi, chair of the American College of Radiation Medical Physics Commission. And medical radiation workers are monitored to prevent total exposures of more than 50 mSv per year above and beyond background levels. At low levels like these, medical concerns are minimal.

At higher doses, risks rise. That's because radiation knocks electrons off of atoms as it passes through our bodies. When that happens enough, cells die, DNA breaks, and tissues become damaged.

Radiation affects everyone's body in different ways. And damaging effects can be enhanced by trauma, injuries or other illnesses. But in general, starting at exposure levels of about 1,000 mSv (or 1 sievert) per hour, radiation sickness can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and skin blisters.

Exposures of between 3,500 and 5,000 mSv for a period of minutes to hours lead to death within 30 days for about half of people, according to the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Even higher levels cause immediate death.

At exposures above normal background levels but below the acutely ill or fatal limits, effects are less dramatic but more insidious. People don't necessarily know they've been affected until symptoms start to appear months, years or even decades later.

"When you see a truck coming at you, you know you're going to get hurt real bad," Hevezi said. "The problem with radiation is that we don't sense it. We don't feel it going on."

After an extreme exposure event, thyroid problems are usually the first issues to show up in the first months to years, because the gland is particularly sensitive to radiation. Childhood leukemia also appears early. Down the line, people develop solid tumors, and cancers of the breast, colon, lungs and elsewhere.

"Radiation is often referred to as a universal carcinogen because of its ability to produce cancers in a number of tissues and organs," said Jerrold Bushberg, director of the health physics programs at the University of California, Davis. For every 1,000 mSv of exposure, he added, the risk of dying from cancer goes up by about 5 percent above the 24 percent natural mortality rate from the disease.

History offers plenty of examples of how radiation can affect health. Researchers have detected few to no problems from relatively small exposures -- such as the 10-mSv doses for people closest to atomic bomb testing sites, or the 20-mSv peak that occurred during a 1979 accident at the Three-Mile Island power-plant in Pennsylvania.

During the 1945 atomic bomb explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on the other hand, peak radiation levels ranged from 10,000 mSv to more than 100,000 mSv, said Bushberg. Many people died instantly, and radiation sickness killed many more within months.

For most of the people who survived the blast, though, average doses ranged from 10 to 100 mSv, Bushberg said. And studies of that population have helped researchers learn much of what they know about the links between radiation and cancer.

Compared to the atomic bomb blasts, workers and firefighters at the 1986 Chernobyl disaster experienced lower, but still high exposures, according to the USNRC, ranging from 800 to 16,000 mSv. Yet average radiation doses for Ukrainian evacuees from the area were 17 mSv.

For Belarussian evacuees, the average was 31 mSv. And so far, the only documented health effects from that event are thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in children and teenagers who drank milk that was contaminated with radioactive iodine.

It's hard to know what's going to happen in Japan. At the malfunctioning Fukushima Daiichi plant, radiation dose levels have reached 400 mSv per hour in one of the reactors, according to reports, though it's not clear if people have been exposed to the highest levels.

In Tokyo, radiation levels rose briefly to just three or four times above the normal background level, then fell back to normal again.

"I don't want to speculate the worst because who knows what is going to happen," Bushberg said. "At the moment, the amount of radiation released has been modest. I don't have any specific concern for people in general."

Last edited on Sat Mar 19th, 2011 05:16 pm by sydneyst

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 Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2011 05:02 pm

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Worst Case Nuke Scenarios Sketched Out By Independent Scientists

"Chernobl on Steroids"--Arnie Gunderson, Nuclear Engineer

http://wilderutopia.com/environmental-health/japanese-nuclear-disaster-worsens/

JAPAN’S NUCLEAR AUTHORITIES say they believe that three reactors at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant are now melting.

The country’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said that although staff at the nuclear facility – where two containment buildings have been destroyed by hydrogen explosions – were unable to check for certain, it was “highly likely” that the nuclear cores at reactors, 1 2 and 3 at Fukushima I nuclear station had begun to melt.
Reuters had earlier reported that the cooling mixture of seawater and boron in the number 2 reactor had totally evaporated, with the reactor’s nuclear rods therefore totally exposed for a significant period of time.

The plant operator TEPCO had earlier said it couldn’t rule out the possibility of a nuclear meltdown in the reactor – and had admitted that a partial meltdown could already be underway.

TEPCO had previously said it believed a partial meltdown had occurred at the number 1 reactor, where a hydrogen explosion occurred at a containment building on Saturday, but retracted reports that a similar meltdown had occurred following another hydrogen blast today at the number 3 reactor.


A woman who fled from the vicinity of the Fukushima nuclear power plant sits at an evacuation center set in a gymnasium in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan, March 14, 2011. (REUTERS/Yuriko

From Dr. Michio Kaku:

This isn’t the type of situation that otherwise has a step-by-step emergency plan. We are witnessing a gigantic science experiment, with the Japanese people as guinea pigs. With everything seemingly have a domino effect at this point, the utility is literally making this up as they go along. Problems continue to arise at nearly every turn and is clearly making it difficult to gain traction.

News & Developments: 
  • Three reactors (units 1,2,3) are now involved with partial meltdowns.
  • Units 1 and 3 have had their outer containment wall blown off by huge hydrogen gas explosions. (The hydrogen gas comes from a chemical interaction between water and the zirconium cladding surrounding the rods.
  • The gas explodes when it is vented and interacts with oxygen.)
  • All three units have had some core damage. Units 2 and 3 apparently were almost totally uncovered at some point, without any cooling water. Sea water is apparently leaking out of Unit 3, so that seawater is escaping as soon as it is flushed into the core. Even fire hoses are being used to keep sea water in the core. This also means that the reactors will become permanent pieces of junk afterwards, unfit for commercial use.
  • The water level gauge that measures how much water there is in the nuclear core is broken, and hence reliable figures are hard to get.
  • Radiation levels have soared. Several workers have shown full blown symptoms of radiation sickness (probably indicating that they absorbed perhaps tens of thousands of X-ray equivalents).
  • Unit 3 contains MOX fuel (mixed oxide fuel) which contains plutonium, which is one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. So a possible meltdown there might spread this deadly chemical as well.
  • The state of the nuclear waste units is unclear so there is always the possibility that the huge nuclear waste contained in these storage units might escape.
From The New York Times

The more time that passes with fuel rods uncovered by water and the pressure inside the containment vessel unvented, the greater the risk that the containment vessel will crack or explode, creating a potentially catastrophic release of radioactive material into the atmosphere — an accident that would be by far the worst to confront the nuclear power industry since the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant 25 years ago.

In reactor No. 2, which is now the most damaged of the three at the Daiichi plant, at least parts of the fuel rods have been exposed for several hours, which also suggests that some of the fuel has begun to melt. If more of the fuel melts before water can be injected in the vessel, the fuel pellets could burn through the bottom of the containment vessel and radioactive material could pour out that way — often referred to as a full meltdown.

“They’re basically in a full-scale panic” among Japanese power industry managers, said a senior nuclear industry executive late Monday night. The executive is not involved in managing the response to the reactors’ difficulties but has many contacts in Japan. “They’re in total disarray, they don’t know what to do.”
From Democracy Now interview of Harvey Wasserman, Kevin Kamps, and Arnie Gunderson:

DN: Harvey, this latest news of the Japanese nuclear reactor, water levels inside almost empty, according to the power plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power. Then, the news agency Jiji saying a meltdown of fuel rods inside the Fukushima Daiichi complex’s No. 2 reactor could not be ruled out. Can you explain the significance of this, the exposure of the fuel rods?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: Well, it’s hugely significant, and it’s a very, very dangerous situation. I should note that the first reactor at Fukushima is identical to the Vermont Yankee plant, and which is now up for relicensing and which the people of Vermont are trying to shut. And we should also note that this kind of accident, this kind of disaster, could have occurred at four reactors in California, had the 9.0-Richter-scale earthquake hit close to Diablo Canyon at San Luis Obispo or San Onofre between L.A. and San Diego. We could very well now be watching Los Angeles or San Diego being evacuated, had this kind of thing happened in California. And, of course, the issue is the same in Vermont. There are 23 reactors in the United States that are identical or close to identical to the first Fukushima reactor.

Now, this exposure of fuel is about as bad as it gets. It means that these fuel rods, superheated fuel rods, could melt if they are exposed to water, which they’re trying to pour water in there. It could create radioactive steam, conceivably blow off the containment and result in another Chernobyl and a horrific, horrendous release of radiation that could, and in fact would, come to the United States within a week or so, as the Chernobyl radiation came to California within 10 days. This is about as bad as it gets. And we are not 100 percent sure we’re getting fully accurate information. We only know that the worst case scenario is very much a possibility. There are 10 reactors at the Fukushima site—two separate sites, one with six reactors and one with four. And the fact that a U.S. aircraft carrier has detected significant radiation 60 miles away is very much a dangerous sign. It means that radiation releases are ongoing and probably will only get worse.

KEVIN KAMPS: Yes, Amy, as your Japanese guest said, the cores of at least three reactors now at Fukushima Daiichi are uncovered from water, and so, therefore, a meltdown is likely underway at three reactors. Something that has not gotten much mention yet are the pools of high-level radioactive waste at these very same reactors, which also need cooling. They need electricity to cool, to circulate the water with circulation pumps. And each of the—well, two of these three reactors have suffered explosions, as your guests may have seen online in videos. And the pools that hold the high-level radioactive waste are located above, just slightly above, and to the right of the reactors. So, our hope and our prayer at this point is that not only the reactor itself, the containment around the reactor, but also the pools, which contain massive amounts of radioactivity, have somehow remained intact. That’s what the officials are saying. As Harvey said, we don’t know whether to believe them or not.

In the pools, you have a lot of radioactive waste, which contains a lot of hazardous radioactivity. And now, because those explosions took place at two of those reactors, that is open to the sky at this point. There is no roof or walls over the pools. And the hope is—but we have indications that at Fukushima Daiichi unit 1, that the pool is experiencing difficulty in cooling the waste, because electricity has been lost. They lost the electricity grid with the earthquake. They lost the emergency diesel generators with the tsunami. The backup batteries only had a life of four to eight hours. That’s long passed.

ARNIE GUNDERSEN: Yeah. When the reactor shuts down, what that means is that the uranium atom doesn’t split anymore. But these pieces that are left behind are still radioactive, and they generate about five percent of the reactor’s heat. And you’ve got to dump that heat for as long as a year or two or three. So, what’s happened is that there has been no way to remove that heat, and that’s caused the nuclear fuel to hit 2,200 degrees. At that point, the nuclear fuel begins to suck up the oxygen atoms in water. Water is H2O. And that gives off hydrogen gas. So the hydrogen explosions that we’re seeing at two of these reactors are an indication that the water is being stripped of its oxygen and creating hydrogen. So, the cores are uncovered, and when the cores are uncovered, unfortunately, that’s what happens. Now, the problem in the long haul is that now that these cores have been uncovered and there’s no way to cool them, they will have to continuously vent these containments. And as the Times said, you’re not going to get back into these villages in the next week or two. It could easily be months, if not years, before these villages can be inhabited again.

AMY GOODMAN: The effects of radiation on humans, Arnie Gundersen?

ARNIE GUNDERSEN: It’s too early to tell, but as your previous speaker said, you know, they tested—they talk about 160 people that have been contaminated. That’s all they’ve tested. Basically, everything they’re testing is coming up contaminated in that inner couple of miles around the plant. You’ve got radiation being detected 60 miles to the north in a Navy helicopter, a hundred miles to the east on a Navy aircraft carrier. So, it’s not clear to me that that cloud is not looping around and affecting Japan. And, of course, I think the worst case, as Mr. Kamps suggested, is that the fuel pools on these reactors, that sit very high, and they’re designed just like the Vermont Yankee one, if the fuel pools are not cooled, they will melt down, in which case we’re going to have Chernobyl on steroids.



  • The utility states that the situation is, at present, stable. This might be true, but its the stability of hanging on a cliff by your fingernails.
  • Last edited on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 05:30 pm by sydneyst

    sydneyst
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     Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2011 04:54 pm

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    March 15 Weather from Japan:
    Radiation Will Briefly Move Toward Tokyo Then Shift Toward Pacific
     
     

    Posted by: JeffMasters, 3:28 PM GMT on March 15, 2011


    A low pressure system is located over Japan near Tokyo today, and the counterclockwise flow of air around this low is bringing easterly winds over the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which lies to the north-northeast of Tokyo.
     
    These easterly winds are blowing radioactivity inland over Japan. As the low tracks northeastward along the coast of Japan today, winds at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will gradually shift to northeast and then northwest, which will move radiation towards Tokyo for several hours, which may be long enough for some radiation to reach the city.
     
    NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model shows that for a release of radioactivity at 50 meters altitude beginning at 21 GMT on Monday (when an explosion at the #2 reactor was recorded), with repeat releases simulated to occur every 2 hours thereafter, the plumes will stay to the north of Tokyo (Figure 1.) However, a more detailed dispersion model being run by the [url=http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=de&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2F]http://www.zamg.ac.at%2Faktuell%2Findex.php%3Fseite%3D1%26artikel%3DZAMG_2011-03-15GMT08%3A26&act=url]Austrian weather service[/url] shows that the plumes may affect much of the Tokyo area today. Both models predict that by 18 GMT today (2pm EDT), the threat to Tokyo will be over, with more westerly winds blowing the radioactive cloud out to sea.


    Figure 1. Forecast movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 50 meters altitude at 21 UTC Monday, March 14, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity is similated to be released every 2 hours thereafter, going out 24 hours. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

    As the low pressure system moves through Japan today, it will bring rain. Current radar loops from the Japan Meteorological Agency show a wide area of rain approaching Tokyo and the Fukushima nuclear plant. Rain is very efficient at removing radioactive particles from the air, and there is the threat of surface and ground water contamination where significant concentrations of radioactive material get rained out. By Wednesday, most of the rain will be gone, and predominately northwesterly winds will build in behind the departing low pressure system. This flow regime will stay in place for the remainder of the week, keeping radioactive emissions from the nuclear plant away from Tokyo, and headed out to sea at low altitudes near the surface.

    Ground level releases of radioactivity are typically not able to be transported long distances in significant quantities, since much of the material settles to the ground a few kilometers from the source. If there is a major explosion with hot gases that shoots radioactivity several kilometers high, that would increase the chances for long range transport, since now the ground is farther away, and the particles that start settling out will stay in the air longer before encountering the ground.
     
    Additionally, winds are stronger away from ground, due to reduced friction and presence of the jet stream aloft. These stronger winds will transport radioactivity greater distances.


    Figure 2. Seven-day forecast movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 8am EDT (12 UTC) today at 50 meters altitude from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Flow of air in the warm and cold conveyor belts of the low pressure system affecting Japan are expected to loft radioactivity to 4 - 5 km altitude, where it will be transported thousands of miles over the coming week. Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

    One case where a ground level release might get lofted to high altitudes is when the source region is located near an approaching low pressure system (extratropical cyclone), as is the case today. On the cold side of the approaching warm front, where the Fukushima nuclear plant is located today, lies a broad band of ascending air called the "cold conveyor belt."
     
    This conveyor belt can loft surface air to an altitude of several kilometers in a day, as seen in the trajectory plot in Figure 2. In addition, the "warm sector" of a low pressure system in front of the approaching cold front features a ribbon of ascending air about 100 - 200 km wide called a "warm conveyor belt", which is also capable of lofting surface air several kilometers high in a day. However, there is often considerable precipitation in both of these conveyor belts, which will tend to remove large quantities of radiation before it can be transported long distances. There will be some radiation from Japan lofted to high altitudes today by the low pressure system affecting the region, and if the radiation manages to escape being rained out, it could potentially be transported thousands of miles over the next week.
     
    A run of the HYSPLIT model following the path of a radioactive cloud emitted at 12 UTC (8am EDT) this morning shows the radioactivity being lofted 4 - 5 km in altitude and being transported over Alaska over the coming week. After a week of transport, this cloud will be considerably diluted, and I strongly doubt the radioactivity would be harmful to human health if rain or snow were to carry it to the ground over Alaska or Canada--if the radiation levels currently being advertised at ground level in Japan are correct.

    Jeff Masters



    Updated: 3:31 PM GMT on March 15, 2011  
     

    Note from Sydney's Thumb: Considerable evidence is accumulating that Jeff's assumptions about radioactivity levels are greatly understated. See report from Arnie Gunderson, nuclear engineer, who has descriped the developing scenario as  "Chernobl on Steroids"

    http://wilderutopia.com/environmental-health/japanese-nuclear-disaster-worsens/

    Further, the evacuation of all but 60 of 800 workers at the Fukashima site may indicate that the Japanese nuclear authorities have essentially given up on significant containment.  If this so, this would imply worsening radiation levels and more concentrated plumes.  

     

    Last edited on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 05:33 pm by sydneyst

    sydneyst
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     Posted: Tue Mar 15th, 2011 03:42 pm

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    Radiation Releases Worsen from Japanese Nukes

    Winds to Carry Plumes to Pacific

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/stay-indoors-japan-pm-issues-warning-to-residents-after-blast-at-nuclear-plant-20110315-1buq7.html

    Clearly, the threats of radioactivity and terrible health effects to exposed populations are far greater than anyone has been telling us.  People near the plant (still there) are being exposed to 4 times the dose at which health effects (increase in cancer risk) are expected. The radius of  dangerous doses of radiation has been significantly expanded in the last 8 hrs. Listen to the above report. 

    According to Fox Weather (which receives weather reports from the NWS), the latest weather reports indicate a winter storm and prevailing winds will carry the radiation to the northeast in a path presumably toward North America via the Aleutians, The Gulf of Alaska and The Pacific Northwest.  Supposedly NOAA has geared up to monitor airborne radiation, and direction and speed of plumes as the winds carry the contaminants further aware from Honshu and the site of the core meltdowns.

    Through my entire career doing environmental impact analysis I never once was ready to swallow the worst-case scenarios of polluters which were almost always flawed and self-serving, designed to save money.  Now, it's so very obvious that these plants assumed absurdly unrealistic worst-case scenarios.  No serious consideration of tsunami effects? Gimme a goddam break.


    I just noticed that Jeff Masters, the ace meteorologist  at Wunderground has run a dispersal model looking at plumes.   I'll try to track some of this weather information on Sydney's Thumb.

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/show.html


    Radiation from Japan not likely to harm North America


    Posted by: JeffMasters, 12:53 PM GMT on March 14, 2011
    Radiation from Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been detected 100 miles to the northeast, over the Pacific Ocean, by the U.S. military. Westerly to southwesterly winds have predominated over Japan the past few days, carrying most of the radiation eastwards out to sea.

     The latest forecast for Sendai, Japan, located about 40 miles north of the Fukushima nuclear plant, calls for winds with a westerly component to dominate for the remainder of the week, with the exception of a 6-hour period on Tuesday. Thus, any radiation released by the nuclear plant will primarily affect Japan or blow out to sea. A good tool to predict the radiation cloud's path is NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model. The model uses the GFS model's winds to track the movement of a hypothetical release of a substance into the atmosphere. One can specify the altitude of the release as well as the location, and follow the trajectory for up to two weeks.

    However, given the highly chaotic nature of the atmosphere's winds, trajectories beyond about 3 days have huge uncertainties.One can get only a general idea of where a plume is headed beyond 3 days. I've been performing a number of runs of HYSPLIT over past few days, and so far great majority of these runs have taken plumes of radioactivity emitted from Japan's east coast eastwards over the Pacific, with the plumes staying over water for at least 5 days. Some of the plumes move over eastern Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 5 - 7 days. Such a long time spent over water will mean that the vast majority of the radioactive particles will settle out of the atmosphere or get caught up in precipitation and rained out. It is highly unlikely that any radiation capable of causing harm to people will be left in atmosphere after seven days and 2000+ miles of travel distance. Even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which had a far more serious release of radioactivity, was unable to spread significant contamination more than about 1000 miles.


    Figure 1. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Saturday, March 12, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

    Last edited on Tue Mar 15th, 2011 03:43 pm by sydneyst


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