Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Yes the radiation cloud from Japan's crippled nuclear plant IS headed toward Alaska. But NO it should not present a health hazard to its residents. (He says hopefully.)

There is a lot of information about this to be found over at  Jeff Master's Wunder Blog, and the proprietor, Mr. Masters, has a PHD and is a well respected expert on Meterology, so I am pretty sure he knows what he is talking about.

Here is a diagram of the anticipated trajectory of the radioactive cloud.

And for Alaskans here is the pertinent information.

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, assuming that the radiation levels currently being advertised at ground level in Japan are correct.

I am choosing to be comforted by Doctor Master's assurances, but I would personally feel much safer without the "assuming that the radiation levels currently being advertised at ground level in Japan are correct" qualifier. I am not saying I don't trust the Japanese exactly, it is just that they have demonstrated a desire to downplay the potential danger since the beginning of this catastrophe, and that makes a me a little uneasy.

I will feel tons better once scientists on the ground in Alaska test the air and determine whether it presents a legitimate danger or not. And let me just go on record as saying that nuclear energy has just become my LEAST favorite alternative to fossil fuels.  Just in case anybody is taking a survey.


  1. Anonymous4:58 PM

    key words:

    "assuming that the radiation levels currently being advertised at ground level in Japan are correct."

    TEMPCO and the Japanese have a history of lying about nuke accidents 29 times. Why would they tell the truth now?

    independent tests taken by scientists from other countries at the GATES of the plant indicate radiation levels 10,000X above recommended exposures.

    EVEN the japanese officials have agreed that the Fukushima 50 are walking dead men. They will die within the next 2-20 days.

    The 50 is reduced to 48 as 2 died in today's fire. To put this in perspective, there were 1,450 workers there on Sunday.

    Scientists and nuclear experts agree that a minimum of 700 workers would be required to get the meltdown under control.

  2. Anonymous5:25 PM

    We want all of you Alaskans to be safe!

    I must admit, though, that I was hoping MS Palin would be "picking fish" when the tsunami hit your shores.

  3. Anonymous5:33 PM

    If it gets bad enough that you have to evacuate the area you and your daughter and your pets and your friend Dennis Zaki are welcome to come to Indiana and hang out with me and my family. Do you know how to drive a John Deere tractor? You can come and help us plant corn and beans next month when the weather gets fit for farming. ;-)
    Jen in IN

  4. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Can we send Mitch McConnell and all of the politicians with ties to Nuclear Energy plants over to Japan to reassure all of us of the safety of using Nuclear Energy? They could go into the plant and clean up the area in the next couple of days. Kind of reminds me of that Erin Brokovich movie several years ago. When she offered a drink of water to the real estate agents wanting to sell the contaminated, toxic property to unsuspecting clients those people didn't want anything to do with that water. Scary.

  5. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Anonymous 4:58:

    Please, do you have a link? This is horrific.

  6. Anonymous5:46 PM

    Right after the earthquake and the tsunami, I wrote a comment on another blog about the safety problems inherit in nuclear plants.

    We once lived near one being built, and the stories told by workers made your blood run cold about shortcuts and cracks and such.

    We once lived in a state where plants were built over fault lines (WA) and the then governor raved about how safe they are.

    Now CA is concerned but no word from WA.

    After I voiced my concerns, I received a small, indirect criticism that I was perhaps over-reacting and was told how safe nuclear power is.

    Uh-huh. Germany is shutting down its older plants to conduct tests even as I write this. France is hearing a lot of protests. The nuclear power industry has never been known for its honesty in telling the public the risks or in dealing with politicians - politicians who, as Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out tonight often make decisions about safety or plant building based on political considerations and cost-savings (and campaign donations).

    Well, time proves who is right or wrong. I sure didn't want to be right about the dangers.

    The biggest BS story is that nuclear power is non-polluting.

    BS to the hilt - because the nuclear waste materials will not become safe in our lifetimes, our children's lifetimes or even our great-grandchildren's lifetimes. We have no safe way to dispose of the waste.

    If you've seen photos of dumps from the fifties and sixties, you see completely barren land that no plant or animal life can exist - and gradually, as you get away from the epicenter of the dump, the vegetation returns - but stunted and disfigured. You have to go quite a way to find healthy ecosystems around a dump.

    Plus, I really, really hate the way the Christian politicians have been so eager to create a nuclear waste dump in a Native American sacred mountain in the SW. I guess we know what their values truly are by their disrespect for other cultures and lives.

    That's the problem, for a quick fix, to a reason to continue the status quo, some people are willing to forfeit the present and future health of others and of the land.

    We can pretty good technology for alternative energy now, and we could, with investments for R&D have great technology to get us away from nuclear, from coal and oil - but I guess it doesn't line the pockets of the current wealth class fast enough.

    People have to stop being complacent, willing to have people tell them what they want to hear. They need to ask questions and follow-up questions and do research from independent sources (not industry or government). The truth, though, perhaps is in the pudding - the awful, awful mess that a disaster like this stirs up.

    P.S. No snow ice cream for anyone!

  7. FEDUP!!!6:02 PM

    What *I* don't understand is this: Why hasn't the US stationed a couple of radiation-sniffing NASA planes over there? Like that, we could be a bit better informed. (As if *our* government will give us the lowdown of this... :/)

    Anybody know where you can get some Potassium Iodide pills, JIC?

  8. Anonymous6:26 PM

    And still, nary a voice says, "Conservation is vital to the security of the US." Not one. And the Governors refuse to start high speed rail projects, one answer to our energy dependence. They refuse to believe in global warming, despite facts. They refuse to bring in clean, green projects. The mantra is still, "Drill, nuclear, drill, more oil, more gas." To them I shout, "NO MORE. We are tired of polluting our water and our land. We are tired of subsidizing the companies that are polluting our oceans and killing the fish. We want smaller, more efficient cars. We want high speed rail so we don't all have to drive our cars everywhere. We want safe bike lanes and walking trails. We want to leave this Earth better than we left it."

  9. Anonymous6:43 PM

    Anonymous at 4:58 I'd like to see some links for those statistics you just gave. The last update I saw from the Nuclear Energy Institute indicated the dose rate levels peaked at 1190 mRem/hr, and has returned to 60 mRem/hr. At its highest the radiation levels were at 1.19 Rem, which is extremely low. 0 to 100 Rem are considered sublethal, and anywhere from 200 to 400 Rem are still very manageable. Please consider that the three main aspects in radiation are time, distance, and shielding. The further away from a source the less dose exposure. For every time you double the distance between yourself and the source, the dose decreases by 4 times. Please consider the hundreds of miles between Japan and the West Coast/Alaska. There really is an extremely low risk for any adverse health effects as a result of this. And for those people buying potassium iodine pills, you can stop- the half life of I-131 is only around 8 days... by the time it gets here it's already gone. The Cs-137 and Sr-89 are much longer lived, but again, by the time any "gets here", the concentration will be so dispersed as to not pose any real threat. As for the workers, radiation workers are some of the safest and best protected in any industry. We actually have lower lifetime dose rates than people with "regular jobs" because of all the safety measures put in place. Your dose rate meter is your best friend, and I do not doubt that anyone would put themselves into a situation where they are subjecting themselves to so much radiation that they are certain to die. Workers can and do work in extremely elevated levels of radiation, they just work in smaller time increments (again, time, shielding, and distance). That way the dose is spread across a larger population. Radiation can be scary to those unfamiliar with it, as it was to me when I first started in radiation safety. You have to remember that radiation is ALL around us, in what we eat, drink, breathe, live in- everything. Okay, off my soapbox- I hope I've helped somewhat..? If it's any additional consolation I spoke with my boss who's been involved in radiation safety for over 35 years, and he was not concerned either.

  10. Anonymous7:32 PM

    Is anyone here saying that those last 50 are safe?

    Can someone explain how they are pumping water with no electricity and the failure of diesel and battery back-ups?

    Isn't it the case that the containment is cracked and the controls are fried?

    How could a Hail-Mary solution possibly happen at this point?

  11. I remember Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, even though I was just a kid. Scary, scary, scary. I was hoping I'd never heart about another accident again in my lifetime. Guess not. Never been a fan of nuclear power. Wish all countries would stop using it all together. But I know that's just a pipe dream

  12. Anonymous7:36 PM

    CNN: Workers at Japan's damaged nuclear power plant have suspended operations and evacuated, chief Cabinet secretary says.

    This isn't good, but we need to remain calm and see what occurs.

  13. Anonymous7:43 PM

    Did anybody ever find out why Palin wasn't on Lou Dobbs show last night?

  14. Gasman8:21 PM

    Remember, those two little immortal words of Tom Ridge: duct tape.

    Hey, I live in the place that birthed the nuclear bomb. I see radioactive waste being trucked out of town every week. That stuff scares me shitless.

    Seriously, to my Alaskan friends, please be safe and listen to weather reports. If you need a place to crash until the shit blows over - literally - I've got room for at least a few in my crib. As an inducement, I've got a freezer full of roasted New Mexican chilies.

  15. Anonymous8:38 PM

    People calm down. Yes this is a bad situation but stating opinions as facts is not helpful.

    Two men didn't die today, two men are missing.

    They have said repeatedly this is NOT another Chernobyl since Chernobyl had none of the safety containment walls to begin with and it blew a ton of radiation straight up in the air.

    @4:58 you sound like a conspiracy theorists blabbing on with bits and pieces of opinion with absolutely nothing to back it up.

  16. Nuclear has always been my least favorite.

    Call me a cynic but I just don't believe any of the excuses about how it can be made safe. All it takes is one little accident, one little unforeseeable incident...like a really big earthquake and tsunami, and all bets are off.

    If I were living in Japan and was told to stay inside and don't drink the water, I'd be outside in the car with my dog and as many possessions as I could stuff in there and be heading as far as possible away from that reactor.

    Because by the time they tell you to panic, it's too late.

    I wouldn't have stayed in New Orleans either. And the dog would be with me even if I had to walk.

  17. If Gryphen and Co. evacuate to Jen in Indiana, I'd be glad to take AK Muckracker here in So. Cal. The weather is great and locally we have some great muck for her to expose.

    If she stays home and cooks for me while I'm at work, she can have a room and unlimited internet access. I'd love to have a "housewife" take care of me for a bit. Oh, and I have cable!

    BTW sunny and 71 degree today. Same for tomorrow.

  18. Anonymous9:16 PM

    Yeah, but I'm equally unimpressed about full disclosure of "Alaska scientists on the ground."

    C'mon. We've had U.S. and Alaska scientists minimizing stuff for years. White Alice sites?
    They'll keep things wrapped up for our own safety and security. And national security and any other justification they care to use.

  19. Erica from Dallas10:19 PM

    You and your family are invited to stay with us for a while.We can even drive to Austin and "crash" at my brother's house!

  20. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Maybe the cloud will fall on Lake Lucille??? Aw too bad...boo hoo

  21. Gasman10:44 PM

    Did I mention that I have a whole damn freezer full of roasted New Mexican chilies verde?

  22. Anonymous12:39 AM

    The "Fukushima 50" have been sent back into the plant, according to CBS.

  23. This is different from Chernobyl. Maybe not so bad, but probably worse. We won't know for sure until Thursday to Saturday whether or not the meltdown is beyond human management. My hunch is that it is, and that we need to prepare for the resultant radiation. As this has never happened before, nobody knows what might be the best ways to prepare.

    I was involved in helping one person - Janes L. Acord - in his efforts with others - to keep the reactors on the exposed coast in NE Honshu from being built in the late 70s to early 80s. We lost then.

    We need to force people who want to build more of them anywhere to adhere to far, far more stringent standards than any existing corporation can make an honest promise to keep.

  24. It does seem like a kind of crap shoot. However, I'm going to go with the sciences, rather than fear. I'm in Anchorage and I don't have a thyroid gland anymore.

  25. Anonymous5:49 AM

    I'm with 10:34. seems a perfect place to drop and a perfect target to drop on. Palin- property.

  26. Anonymous9:40 AM

    I posted some brief good reliable info from BBC. Gryphen didn't allow the post.
    Check the BBC, folks.

  27. Anonymous4:29 PM


    Thom Hartmann with guest talk about the uncovered spent rods and uncooled unspent rods in the 4 to seven reactors.

    It ain't pretty.

    Bottom line is Japan has no way to cool any of this stuff down right now or in the near future.


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