Fukushima radiation expected at U.S. West Coast beaches soon

West Coast Radiation Hitting Soon

A couple walk along the coast at Olympic National Park near Forks, Washington, on Tuesday, the third anniversary of the magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami that sparked the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster. Scientists predict low levels of radiation from Fukushima will reach waters off the Pacific Northwest next month

NEW YORK – Scientists have crowdsourced a network of volunteers taking water samples at beaches along the U.S. West Coast in hopes of capturing a detailed look at low levels of radiation drifting across the ocean since the 2011 tsunami that devastated the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

With the risk to public health extremely low, the effort is more about perfecting computer models that will better predict chemical and radiation spills in the future than bracing for a threat, researchers say.

Federal agencies are not sampling at the beach. The state of Oregon is sampling, but looking for higher radiation levels closer to federal health standards, said state health physicist Daryl Leon. Washington stopped looking after early testing turned up nothing, said Washington Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer.

The March 2011 tsunami flooded the Fukushima No. 1 plant, causing radiation-contaminated water to spill into the Pacific. Airborne radiation was detected in milk and rainwater in the U.S. soon afterward. But things move much more slowly in the ocean.

“We know there’s contaminated water coming out of there, even today,” Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said in a video appealing for volunteers and contributions.

In fact, it is the biggest pulse of radioactive liquid dropped into the ocean, ever, he said.

“What we don’t really know is how fast and how much is being transported across the Pacific,” he added. “Yes, the models tell us it will be safe. Yes, the levels we expect off the coast of the U.S. and Canada are expected to be low. But we need measurements, especially now as the plume begins to arrive along the West Coast.”

In an email from Japan, Buesseler said he hopes the sampling will go on every two or three months for the next two to three years.

Two different models have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals predicting the spread of radioactive isotopes of cesium and iodine from Fukushima.

One, known as Rossi et al, shows the leading edge of the plume hitting the West Coast from southeast Alaska to Southern California by April. The other, known as Behrens et al, shows the plume hitting southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Washington by March 2016.

The isotopes have been detected at very low levels at a Canadian sampling point far out to sea earlier than the models predicted, but not yet reported at the beach, said Kathryn Higley, head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiation Health Physics at Oregon State University. The Rossi model predicts levels a little higher than the fallout from nuclear weapons testing in the 1960s. The Behrens model predicts lower levels like those seen in the ocean in the 1990s, after the radiation had decayed and dissipated.

The models predict levels of Cesium 137 between 30 and 2 becquerels per cubic meter of seawater by the time the plume reaches the West Coast, Higley said.

The federal drinking water health standard is 7,400 becquerels per cubic meter, Leon said.

Becquerels are a measure of radioactivity.

The crowdsourcing raised $29,945 from 225 people, enough to establish about 30 sampling sites in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and California, according to Woods Hole. The website so far has not reported any radiation.

Sara Gamble, who lives in Washington state and who is the mother of a young child, raised $500 because she thinks it is important to know what is really going on.

Woods Hole sent her a bucket, a funnel, a clipboard, a UPS shipping label, instructions and a large red plastic container for her sample. She went to Ocean Shores, Washington, a couple of weeks ago, collected her sample and shipped it off. No results have come back yet. To do another sample, she will have to raise another $500.

“I got lots of strange looks at the beach and the UPS store, because it’s labeled ‘Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity,’ and it’s a big red bin,” she said. “But it’s funny; nobody would ask me anything out on the beach. I was like, ‘Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to ask?’ “

Taking the sample has allayed her initial fears, but she still thinks it is important to know “because it affects our ecosystems, kids love to play in the water at the beach, and I want to know what’s there.”

A potent threat of major earthquake off California’s northern coast

Crescent City Earthquake Warning

A man rides his bicycle in 2004 in Crescent City, where a 1964 earthquake spawned a deadly tsunami.
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-triple-junction-quakes-20140312,0,2124861.story#ixzz2vuMIBNgr

Risk of a monster quake and tsunami off California’s North Coast is greater than researchers once thought.

If a 9.0 earthquake were to strike along California’s sparsely populated North Coast, it would have a catastrophic ripple effect.

A giant tsunami created by the quake would wash away coastal towns, destroy U.S. 101 and cause $70 billion in damage over a large swath of the Pacific coast. More than 100 bridges would be lost, power lines toppled and coastal towns isolated. Residents would have as few as 15 minutes notice to flee to higher ground, and as many as 10,000 would perish.

Scientists last year published this grim scenario for a massive rupture along the Cascadia fault system, which runs 700 miles off shore from Northern California to Vancouver Island.

GRAPHIC: How a 9.0 megaquake devastates California’s North Coast, Ore., and Wash.

The Cascadia subduction zone is less known than the San Andreas fault, which scientists have long predicted will produce The Big One. But in recent years, scientists have come to believe that the Cascadia is far more dangerous than originally believed and have been giving the system more attention.

The Cascadia begins at a geologically treacherous area where three tectonic plates are pushing against each other. The intersection has produced the two largest earthquakes in California in the last decade — Sunday’s 6.8 temblor off Eureka and a 7.2 quake off Crescent City in 2005. The area has produced six quakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater in the last 100 years, the California Geological Survey said.

Officials in Northern California as well as Oregon and Washington are beginning to address the dangers.

DOCUMENT: The damage a 9.0 quake could do to the coast

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tsunami researchers are testing a new generation of tsunami detectors off the Oregon coast, which could provide earlier warnings about the incoming wave’s size.

During the 2011 Japan tsunami, some of the first detailed alerts underestimated the size of the tsunami to be lower than the sea walls — and then communications were cut off.

“So some people had a false sense of security,” said Vasily Titov, director of NOAA’s Center for Tsunami Research. “You want to have this information as accurate as possible.”

Installing tsunami sensors on the deep ocean floor would provide better information on the tsunami’s size in as little as five minutes. It now takes about half an hour.

Titov said two underwater test sensors off the Oregon coast seemed to perform well in Sunday’s earthquake, though the quake did not produce a tsunami.

In Grays Harbor County in Washington state, crews will begin building an elementary school gym this summer to double as a “vertical evacuation center” — built so that 1,000 people can flee to the roof during a tsunami, protected by a high wall.

“We have no natural high ground,” said Ocosta School District Supt. Paula Akerlund. “So we have to evacuate vertically.”

Washington state and federal officials have also been discussing building about 50 “tsunami safe havens,” such as artificial hills that could hold as many as 800 people.

The 2011 Japan tsunami as well as other natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina have fueled efforts to better prepare for a major quake on the Cascadia fault.

“Katrina was a worst case scenario for hurricanes in the gulf. And a Cascadia would be the worst case scenario for tsunamis on the West Coast,” said Paul Whitmore, director of the National Tsunami Warning Center in Alaska.

For years, scientists believed the largest earthquake the area could produce was magnitude 7.5. But scientists now say the Cascadia was the site of a magnitude 9 earthquake more than 300 years ago.

Ripping over a fault that stretches in the Pacific Ocean from the coast of Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino, the quake on the evening of Jan. 26, 1700, was so powerful, entire sections of the Pacific coastline dropped by as much as 5 feet, allowing the ocean to rush in and leave behind dead trees by the shore.

Troubled waters: Nuclear radiation found in British Columbia may pose health concerns

Vancouver British Columbia Radiation

Chum salmon, such as these, spawned out next to Kilby Provincial Park on the Harrison River, are being tested for evidence of radiation from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan.

Discovery of Fukushima radioactivity raises concerns for local marine life, and the effect it may have on humans

A radioactive metal from the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan has been discovered in the Fraser Valley, causing researchers to raise the alarm about the long-term impact of radiation on B.C.’s west coast.

Examination of a soil sample from Kilby Provincial Park, near Agassiz, has for the first time in this province found Cesium 134, further evidence of Fukushima radioactivity being transported to Canada by air and water.

“That was a surprise,” said Juan Jose Alava, an adjunct professor in the school of resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University, in an interview on Tuesday. “It means there are still emissions … and trans-Pacific air pollution. It’s a concern to us. This is an international issue.”

Cesium 134 has a half-life of two years, meaning its radioactivity is reduced by half during that time. Its presence in the environment is an indication of continuing contamination from Fukushima.

A more persistent danger to people and marine life is radioactive Cesium 137, which has a half-life of 30 years, and bioaccumulates in the food chain.

Researchers developed a model based on the diet of fish-eating killer whales along with the levels of Cesium 137 detected and predicted (less than 0.5 becquerels per cubic metre, a measurement of radioactivity) by other researchers in the Pacific waters offshore of Vancouver Island.

The models suggests that in 30 years, Cesium 137 levels in the whales will exceed the Canadian guideline of 1,000 becquerels per kilogram for consumption of seafood by humans — 10 times the Japanese guideline.

“It’s a reference, the only benchmark we have to compare against,” Alava said.

He said recent federal government cutbacks have placed a greater burden of testing and monitoring for aquatic impacts on academics, non-governmental organizations and even private citizens.

“The Canadian government is the one that should be doing something, should be taking action to keep monitoring to see how these contaminants are behaving, what are the levels, and what is next.”

It was a citizen, Aki Sano, who provided SFU with the soil sample from Kilby park, near the mouth of the Harrison River, on Nov. 16, 2013. Samples of chinook, sockeye and chum spawning salmon nearby are also being analyzed for evidence of radiation.

While the soil sample tested positive for Cesium 134, the exact level is not yet known, although it is thought to be low. The plan now is to test soil samples from Burnaby Mountain, closer to Vancouver.

Earlier research by Kris Starosta, associate professor of chemistry, and his colleagues at SFU has shown evidence of Iodine 131, which has a half-life of eight days, in rainwater and seaweeds in B.C. Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducted the analysis of sea water off Vancouver Island.

An adult killer whale weighing up to 5,000 kilograms can eat five per cent of its body weight, or 250 kilograms of fish, per day.

Endangered resident killer whales already face a host of challenges: the need for high-protein chinook salmon, habitat degradation, underwater noise pollution, harassment from whale watchers, and climate change. While the additional impact of Cesium 137 is unknown, it may negatively affect the immune system or endocrine system, Alava said.

Original Article here http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Toxic+waters+Nuclear+radiation+found+pose+health+concerns/9606269/story.html

Fukushima? The Perfect Grime?

California Fukushima Radioactive Sunset

High radioactive detections in land, sea and air are met with media derision and mass denial

  • Readings from multiple private and government sources over past three years indicate Fukushima radiation in the US
  • YouTube Fukushima sleuths doing what government won’t trigger massive denial and mockery from LA Times, Al Jazeera America, Heal the Bay, others
  • Sources for media meltdown deniers, such as oceanographer Kim Martini, demonstrate exuberant ignorance about radiation and health
  • New report finds evidence of Fukushima radioactivity in Santa Cruz seawater
  • Soil in California’s Humboldt County, famed for marijuana production, tests high for Fukushima radiation as well

Multiple hazardous readings of suspected Fukushima radiation have been detected in air, rain, snow, and surf in California and across the nation. The high radioactivity findings came during tests of air across America, Pacific Ocean surf south of San Francisco and Santa Cruz, rain in Death Valley and nearby Las Vegas, and in the soil of California’s marijuana-growing heartland in Humboldt County.

The radioactivity has been detected by EnviroReporter.com, its associated radiation stations, the Environmental Protection Agency’s RadNet monitoring posts, and YouTube users across the globe. Some of the hottest tests were videotaped and seen by thousands including one going viral and reaching over 770,000 YouTube viewers. The hot Humboldt dirt was discovered by an outspoken amateur Fukushima radiation sleuth.

The alarming detections show that the threat from the ongoing Fukushima Japan triple meltdowns may be arriving in force. The worst single environmental disaster in history is the most logical source for the myriad positive tests for radioactivity based on EnviroReporter.com’s extensive investigation of the meltdowns that has resulted in over 5,436 samples and assessments across the country.

Many of those assessments have been done by Dale Ramicone who operates Radiation Station Glendale California which has a 24/7 live feed showing radiation readings along with a graph to put it in perspective.

“You know, this massive release, is so huge that it’s probably everywhere now,” Ramicone says. “I suspect that all you have to do is take samples, all up and down the coast, anywhere, and you will find contamination. It will be on the beach, in the salt spray, in the mussels and clams, the fish, everything that grows bones, shells, or exoskeletons. It may take some sensitive equipment to find it, but it’s there, I have no doubt.”

Destroyed Fukushima reactorRamicone is right. The Sea of Fuku Goo has arrived by land, sea and air just as We predicted not long after the poorly situated reactors were slammed by a 30-foot high tsunami after the Great Japan Earthquake March 11, 2011. Yet even with the destruction of much of the nuclear complex being three years ago today, the disaster has steadily worsened.

As anti-nuker Harvey Wasserman’s recent 50 Reasons to Fear the Worst from Fukushima details, events past and current illuminate the nuclear folly and foresee a grim future where Fukushima is concerned.

Indeed, nuclear reactor disasters of this sort get worse as time goes by, continually pumping poisonous radiation into the environment. No one even knows where the molten reactor cores are, located let alone what to do about them. All the while, 441 tons of highly radioactive water sluices into the Pacific every day.

News of Japan’s ongoing nuclear nightmare has become harder to come by since its lower house of Parliament passed a draconian Japanese censorship law passed in late November, 2013. Journalists who publish “inappropriately” or “wrongfully” obtained information on Fukushima face up to five years in prison. Inappropriate reporting, attempted leaks, solicitation and complicity are also illegal according to the new state secrecy act.

No need to censor most U.S. reporters to keep the lid on Fukushima. American media has reacted to these latest radiation revelations by issuing a barrage of poorly written screeds designed to discredit the people doing the actual detection work abandoned by the government in late 2011. Even once-august media outlets like the Los Angeles Times and newer media concerns like Al Jazeera America have been long on hyperbole but short on facts. This third year anniversary of the worst nuclear reactor meltdowns ever has also given us the worst ever government and media coverage of an environmental disaster.

Information obtained  shows that the Fukushima radiation is already impacting California in ways that may crash the fishing industry, destroy coastal real estate values, poison the Golden State’s famed pot and irradiate the San Joaquin Valley breadbasket of the nation.

 

500 people spell out "FUKUSHIMA is HERE" on a San Francisco Beach October 19, 2013 - photo courtesy John Montgomery

500 people spell out “FUKUSHIMA is HERE” on a San Francisco Beach October 19, 2013 – photo courtesy John Montgomery

All manner of nuclear nightmare may be enveloping the state yet far too few even know about it. The ongoing misery wrought by these meltdowns could be classified as criminal if government and media ineptitude and deception were any measure. Yet there is no outrage, no public effort to even avoid known pathways that the Fuku goo is taking in our air, water and food. Instead of facing the fission, mass media and most people have taken a mocking, dismissive tone towards anyone worried about the unrestrained radiation releases upwind and up current of America.

Does that make Fukushima the “perfect crime?”

Stephan Timmermans’s 2006 book Postmortem: how medical examiners explain suspicious deaths posits that a crime can’t be perfect if it is indeed identified as a crime. So far, Fukushima fits this description because most of the victims, human and animal alike, don’t even know what has been happening since March 11, 2011. So it’s perfect in this regard.

Amazingly, a small group of people exists who do know what’s happening and have the ability to document evidence of it and share it on a grand scale. They are armed with nuclear radiation monitors and cell phone cameras.

The challenge is daunting for these nuclear Paul Reveres who aim to warn the country of imminent disaster. The third anniversary of Fukushima reveals that the forces allayed against them are almost insurmountable.

Almost.

Flying the Fissile Skies

Recent high air, rain and snow radiation findings were detected in California, Michigan, Illinois and across nine states in a commercial jet since late last year. It has been discovered that the storm that brought highly radioactive rain to Death Valley in November also slammed Las Vegas with radioactive precipitation.

Radiation readings revealed that flying the skies over America remains abundantly radioactive. On a December 23 flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, this reporter measured radiation at 922.1 Counts Per Minute (CPM) using an Inspector Alert. This reading was taken at the cruising altitude of 37,000 feet and was nearly 24 times the background measured in the terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

According to documentation , the California Highway Patrol considers any material or situation over three times background to be the triggering level for a hazardous materials incident. Of course, at high altitudes the radiation is elevated as the atmosphere thins. Nevertheless, this reporter wore a face mask to reduce radiation inhalation caused by continuously falling out and being re-suspended radiation from the triple meltdowns.

The radiation detected en route to Chicago was lower than the readings detected in late 2011 on a flight along the same flight path nine months after the meltdowns had begun. That December 23, 2011 reading at 38,000 feet registered 1,238 CPM.

Similarly, the radiation readings of southwest Michigan snow were lower this year. A December 26, 2012 kilo of snow radiated 24.1 percent above background compared to measurements of 15.3 percent and 19.6 percent above background in late December 2013 snowfalls.

Chicago snowfall measured 43.0 percent above background January 5, 2014 prior to departing back to LAX the next day before an Arctic cold front brought temperatures down to 26 degrees below zero Fahrenheit January 7.

 

Radiation readings were triple the norm at 30,000 feet near Four Corners January 6 2014

Radiation readings were triple the norm at 30,000 feet near Four Corners January 6 2014

Flying above Four Corners, the jet was at 30,000 feet. This allowed a direct comparison to the expected readings one would get at that elevation with an Inspector. According to Ionizing Radiation Basics by Inspector Radiation Alert manufacturers S.E. International of Summertown, Tennessee, “When you fly in an air plane at 30,000 feet your rate meter is getting 200 CPM for anywhere between 2 to 5 hours.”

Passing over Monument Valley at 30,000 feet, this reporter’s Inspector Alert absorbed 625 CPM, over triple what the guide says is normal. S.E. International’s basics were written prior to Fukushima nuclear fiasco.

Death Valley’s Fukushima Rains

The Inspector Alert nuclear radiation monitor used on this winter testing sojourn was donated to EnviroReporter.com by International Medcom, the Sebastopol California-based manufacturer. The company provided the instrument after seeing the shocking readings detected in Death Valley in November where rain radiation readings in the national park came in dozens of times background over several days.

Unlike the latest Michigan snow readings somewhat above background, Death Valley snow from the November 2013 storm Boreas registered at background or below. Inexplicably, the same Boreas rain lit up the Inspector Alert with a startling 26.7 times background November 22, 2013 at Badwater and 31.5 times normal at Furnace Creek, the national park’s headquarters.

These rains weren’t blazing hot because of naturally occurring radon progeny. That had been washed out long before the readings took place in the multi-day rain event. Rain tested the next day at Stovepipe Wells in the center of the park at a whopping 29.7 times background in a test performed by a well known watchdog entirely on camera to fully explain the testing technique and to verify the result for any skeptical viewers.

The first inkling that Fukushima radiation was raining down on Death Valley came two days before when the first Stovepipe Wells sampling came in at 7.0 times normal. During this exceptional three-day storm, nearby Las Vegas was hit with the same Boreas rain. High radiation activity during this period was evident at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency radiation station in Las Vegas.

Coast to Coast

An  analysis reveals that there have been massive beta radiation surges in cities from coast to coast since last autumn. The levels of air radiation have been many times what is considered relatively safe. Even dry regions of the country got a stiff dose not normally associated with those areas.

With no other obvious sources than the WIPP radiation leaks in southwest New Mexico, the Fukushima meltdowns again come to the fore as the prime suspect. There is no doubt that this unnatural and unexplained radiation is here and it is hot. In some cases, really hot.

Sea of Fuku Goo is flowing towards Southern California

Sea of Fuku Goo is flowing towards Southern California

The federal government’s stations run by qualified volunteers have been going offline regularly without reappearing in the last few months, oft times as the readings have gone through the roof. Just 43 of the EPA beta radiation stations are online in the 123 city network of beta and gamma monitoring posts as of March 10. That’s just 34 percent operational compared with 49 percent of the beta detectors functioning in July 2013. Compounding the mystery of the non-functioning beta monitors is that they are literally built into the same EPA RadNet monitoring apparatus as the gamma detectors are which begs the question – why would the beta detector not function in such a unit when the gamma one does? And how can these beta detectors stay offline for over a year or longer with no sign of ever being repaired?br />

Fairbanks, Alaska council passes resolution about radiation concern

Pacific Currents flowing Fukushima Radiation to Alaska

Pacific Currents flowing Fukushima Radiation to Alaska

FAIRBANKS — The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is getting attention from both Fairbanks local governments on the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami.

By a unanimous vote Monday, the Fairbanks City Council passed a resolution urging the state and federal government, as well as the United Nations, to do more radiation testing in Alaska waters.

The resolution was introduced by Fairbanks City Mayor John Eberhart and had the support of the council and several people who came to testify. Among them was John Davies, a member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly. Davies said he was concerned about radiation from Japan spreading to salmon he dip nets for at Chitina. He told the City Council that he plans to introduce a similar resolution before the borough assembly.

“I don’t personally have evidence that there’s a problem right now, but there’s enough concern out there that I would like to know the answers,” he said.

Earlier this year, Larry Hartig, the state commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, testified for lawmakers in Juneau about Fukushima radiation. Hartig said radiation levels were at a tiny fraction of the levels required to cause health problems. People ingest more radiation from eating a banana than from eating a tuna from the North Pacific Ocean, he said.

Concern about Fukuskima radiation also was raised at the Tanana Chiefs Conference convention Tuesday in Fairbanks.

P.J. Simon, a delegate from Allakaket, said possible radiation in migrating salmon posed a risk to subsistence activities. He urged both Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Mark Begich, who spoke at the convention via video conference, to support investigation of the issue.

Both Alaska senators said there isn’t evidence that harmful levels of radiation are making it to Alaska or its food supply. But they agreed that ongoing federal monitoring efforts should continue to make sure a radiation threat doesn’t emerge.

“We need to be vigilant on this,” Murkowski said.

More Fukushima Updates Courtesy of FUKULEAKS.ORG

Earlier

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Japan Plans to Restart Some Nuclear Plants in 2015 After Fukushima Shutdown
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Previously one of the world's largest producers of nuclear-generated electricity, Japan has relied heavily on fossil fuels following the meltdown at Fukushima Dai-ichi and subsequent shutdown of the country's nuclear fleet. In 2013, when almost all of ...

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Sun, Mar 01, 2015
Source: FUKUSHIMA_SUB

Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation

Scientists test west coast waters for Fukushima Radiation

Scientists test west coast waters for Fukushima Radiation.

SALEM, Ore. — Very low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster likely will reach ocean waters along the U.S. West Coast next month, scientists are reporting.

Current models predict that the radiation will be at extremely low levels that won’t harm humans or the environment, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who presented research on the issue last week.

But Buesseler and other scientists are calling for more monitoring. No federal agency currently samples Pacific Coast seawater for radiation, he said.

“I’m not trying to be alarmist,” Buesseler said. “We can make predictions, we can do models. But unless you have results, how will we know it’s safe?”

The news comes three years after the devastating Japan tsunami and resulting nuclear accident.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami with waves as high as 133 feet. More than 15,000 people died and about 6,000 were injured.

The earthquake and tsunami knocked out power to cooling pumps at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant complex, causing meltdowns at three reactors.

Last July, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, acknowledged for the first time that the reactor was leaking contaminated underground water into the ocean.

Since then, the news has gotten worse, and there is widespread suspicion that the problem is underreported.

There are three competing models of the Fukushima radiation plume, differing in amount and timing. But all predict that the plume will reach the West Coast this summer, and the most commonly cited one estimates an April arrival, Buesseler said.

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union’s Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium 134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

Cesium 134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima, Buesseler said.

“The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast,” Buesseler said.

By the time it gets here, the material will be so diluted as to be almost negligible, the models predict. Radiation also decays. Cesium 134, for example, has a half-life of two years, meaning it will have half its original intensity after that period.

In Oregon, state park rangers take quarterly samples of surf water and sand at three locations along the coast. The water is analyzed for Cesium 137 and iodine 131. Both of those already exist in the ocean at low levels from nuclear testing decades ago.

The monitoring began in April 2012, when tsunami debris began arriving along the Oregon coast. So far, all of the tests have shown less than “minimum detectable activity,” or the least amount that can be measured.

Results of the most recent samples, taken in mid-February, won’t be available until mid-March, Oregon Health Authority spokesman Jonathan Modie said.

Washington does not test ocean water for radiation.

“We have none happening now and we have none planned,” said Tim Church, communications director for the Washington State Department of Health. “Typically that would be something that would happen on the federal level.”

California regularly samples seawater around the state’s nuclear power plants to determine whether the plants are impacting the environment. Those results all are below minimum detectable activity.

Some citizens and scientists are taking sampling into their own hands.

Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Steven Manley has launched “Kelp Watch 2014,” which will partner with other organizations to monitor kelp all along the West Coast for Fukushima radiation.

And Buesseler recently offered the services of his lab at Woods Hole in Massachusetts.

His project — titled “How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?” — will use crowd-sourced money and volunteers to collect water samples along the Pacific Coast, then ship them across the country to be analyzed.

So far, results are in for two locations in Washington and three in California. They show that the plume has not yet reached the coast.

Meanwhile, West Coast states are winding down their tsunami debris response efforts.

Oregon’s coastline is seeing less debris from the tsunami this winter than in the past two years, Oregon State Parks spokesman Chris Havel said.

If that doesn’t change, officials likely will disband a task force that was mobilized to deal with the debris.

Last year, Washington suspended its marine debris reporting hotline.

Loew also reports for the (Salem, Ore.) Statesman Journal

Inside the slow and dangerous clean up of the Fukushima nuclear crisis

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we take you to a place that garnered headlines around the world three years ago, but has hardly been seen since, because it’s so dangerous.

 

NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien is our guide.

MILES O’BRIEN: Three years after the meltdowns, the road to Fukushima is still a gauntlet of roadblocks and strict security checks.

And inside the exclusion zone, it remains a post-apocalyptic landscape of abandoned towns, frozen in time. We were on our way to one of the most hazardous places on Earth, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, granted the NewsHour permission for a rare tour inside the plant, where three nuclear reactors melted down after the great Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 11, 2011.

In the seismically isolated and radioactively protected emergency response center, we met the man in the hottest seat of all here, superintendent Akira Ono. He runs an unprecedented decommissioning project that will not be done for decades. He prefers not to call it a cleanup.

“After all, if you are just cleaning up after an accident,” he told me, “there is a lack of quality, meaning speed is the only concern. I feel that isn’t enough. We need to look ahead, 30 to 40 years.”

To see it firsthand, we had to suit up. We must also wear a full face mask and respirator for good measure, resembling astronauts on the way to a fully fueled rocket. We donned special shoes and hardhats, then boarded a bus that would get us as close to the meltdowns as the laws of physics and common sense would allow us.

Fukushima Daiichi or, number one, was a complex of six boiling water reactors designed by General Electric. They were built on sloping terrain, sandwiched between a mountain ridge and the Pacific Ocean. The nuclear cores are between 600 and 800 feet from the harbor.

Three of those cores are now melted down, still steaming hot, their steel containment structures breached. Engineers believe some of the nuclear fuel has melted right through the steel containment vessels on to a concrete basement floor, where it is exposed to groundwater.

As the ground water passes through the pump, it gets mixed in with the contaminated water that is used to cool the melted-down cores. The result is an awful lot of water that needs to be captured, or else it ends up in the ocean.

Each and every day, about 100,000 gallons of fresh groundwater seeps into the basements of the plant, where it becomes contaminated with a witch’s brew of radionuclide. TEPCO is furiously trying to keep pace with the water. They finish a new quarter-million-gallon holding tank here about every other day.

But the hastily built tanks have been leaking, prompting a switch to a welded design, buttressed by gutters, dikes, trenches and water sealants. Regardless, no one disputes the plant is steadily leaking radiation-tainted water into the sea.

“When you go out to the open ocean, there is very little contamination found,” says superintendent Ono. “Basically, the contamination is limited to the port.”

At the port, they are bolstering the last line of defense. This water-shielding wall should be complete in September. Behind it is a system that injects a chemical into the ground that turns water into a viscous gel, stemming the flow to the sea. The company is also testing an idea to bury cooling pipes near the melted reactors to freeze the ground, making impermeable ice plugs in walls that would keep the clean and contaminated water apart.

But all of this is clearly not sustainable. In about three years, they will run out of space for new water holding tanks. Then what?

Masayuki Ono, no relation to the superintendent is general manager of TEPCO’s nuclear power division.

“We can’t solve this problem by simply increasing the number of tanks,” he told me. “We need to solve the fundamental issue of underground water coming in.”

And TEPCO is also investing a lot in this sophisticated radiation water-filtering technology. In trial runs, the advanced liquid processing system, ALPS, has cleaned up 12.5 million gallons of water. ALPS removes cesium, strontium and 60 other radioactive nuclides, but not tritium. There is no practical way to factor out this isotope of hydrogen.

“It is hard to remove tritium with scientific methods,” he says. “But given its biological properties, it is a radioactive substance with a very limited risk.”

Nuclear engineer Lake Barrett worked for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission at Three Mile Island in the wake of the meltdown there in 1979. He is now a special adviser to TEPCO’s president.

LAKE BARRETT, TEPCO special advisor: When you combine all the water on the site with the tritium, the tritium levels will be so low at Fukushima that they would meet the international drinking water standards.

MILES O’BRIEN: TEPCO has no authorization from the Japanese government, local residents or fishermen to discharge any water at all, including what is leaking, from the Fukushima Daiichi site.

But a release of millions of gallons of water tainted with tritium into the ocean seems inevitable.

LAKE BARRETT: You can release it into the ocean, in a normal controlled release, which is what I personally believe they ought to do. But they have to work through the fishermen and all the governors and all the social issues that have to be addressed with that.

MILES O’BRIEN: The long-term solution here is to remove and secure the nuclear fuel. At unit four, they have begun that process. This reactor was shut down for maintenance when the tsunami hit. And so the fuel had been moved into this storage pool.

Even though the reactor wasn’t running, during the worst of the crisis, hydrogen gas accumulated in the reactor buildings, causing a series of explosions. Debris rained down into the pool, landing on top of the stored fuel assemblies. Workers have now carefully plucked away the pieces and have begun removing the 1,533 fuel assemblies stored here.

“It is assumed that some debris fell through the gaps,” engineer Takashi Hara told me. “So far, we don’t think it is anything that will cause the fuel to get stuck. However, it could be the case in the future, so we’re proceeding very slowly.”

The fuel assemblies are transported in casts that will be stored in a more seismically secure common storage pool. If all goes as planned, this process will be complete by the end of this year.

But removing the melted fuel from units one, two and three is another matter entirely. The radiation levels are simply too high for humans to ever get close enough to clean up. Even so, TEPCO is vowing to have the fuel debris removed from one of the reactors by mid 2020. But how? The only way to do that is to invent robots that can do the job. And that is precisely what they’re trying to do.

LAKE BARRETT: They’re probably the most robotic society, you know, there is on earth. Now you have to take it to another level, you know, to work in the high radiation field and to do things that they have never done before.

MILES O’BRIEN: There are many things that will have to be done here that have never been done before in order to decommission this plant.

“We will need to incorporate more and more new things,” superintendent Ono told me. “You can’t brood on the past for answers. I want to take on the various challenges with a constructive attitude.”

Before we left, they carefully scanned all of us and checked the dosimeters that we carried along the way. During our four-and-a-half-hour tour, we absorbed as much radiation as we would have in a single chest X-ray. It was dark when we rode the bus out of the exclusion zone. It was a quiet ride, as we all processed the magnitude of the mess.

Three years after the meltdowns, the crisis has not ended here. In some ways, it is still unfolding.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Next Wednesday, Miles will have a report on the Fukushima meltdown’s effect on fish in the surrounding waters.

And we want to note, these stories were produced before Miles’ trip to the Philippines, where an accident led to the loss of his left arm. As we said earlier this week, we, his NewsHour colleagues, are in awe of his courage.

Hundreds protest dropped charges over Fukushima crisis

Tokyo (AFP) – Hundreds rallied in Tokyo Saturday to protest Japanese prosecutors’ decision to drop charges over the Fukushima nuclear crisis, with no one yet punished nearly three years after the “man-made” disaster.

No one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of radiation released when a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake crashed into the Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011, swamping cooling systems and sparking reactor meltdowns.

However, some Fukushima residents committed suicide owing to fears over radiation, while others died during evacuation. Official data released last week showed that 1,656 people have died in the prefecture from stress and other illnesses related to the disaster three years ago.

“There are many victims of the accident, but there is no (charged) assailant,” chief rally organiser Ruiko Muto, 61, told the protesters, displaying a photograph of Kawauchi village which was hit by the nuclear accident.

“We are determined to keep telling our experiences as victims to pursue the truth of the accident, and we want to avoid a repeat of the accident in the future,” she said.

Tens of thousands of people are still unable to return to their homes around the plant, with scientists warning some areas may have to be abandoned.

Fukushima: A rare look inside the nuclear plant th …Play video

Fukushima: A rare look inside the nuclear plant three …

“I used to grow organic rice… But I can’t do it anymore because of consumers’ worries over radioactive contamination,” Kazuo Nakamura, 45, a farmer from Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture, told the rally.

“I want (Fukushima operator) TEPCO officials and bureaucrats of the central government to eat the Fukushima-made rice,” he shouted to applause.

A parliamentary report has said Fukushima was a man-made disaster caused by Japan’s culture of “reflexive obedience” and not just by the tsunami that crippled the plant.

Some 15,000 people whose homes or farms were hit by radiation from the stricken plant filed a criminal complaint in 2012 against the Japanese government and officials of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO).

However, prosecutors in September decided not to charge any of them with negligence over the nuclear disaster.

Junko Honda, who evacuated to the northern island of …
Junko Honda, who evacuated to the northern island of Hokkaido with her family, speaks at a rally in  …

– Criminal complaint –

Campaigners immediately appealed against the decision by the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, which has the power to order the defendants to be tried.

The committee members comprise 11 citizens who are chosen at random by lot.

But the appeal was made in Tokyo instead of Fukushima, a move campaigners say is “aimed at preventing us from filing a complaint against their decision in Fukushima, where many residents share our anger and grief”.

“We want to share with many people in Tokyo our anger and sadness over the fact that no one has taken responsibility three years after the accident,” one of the organisers, 43-year-old Miwa Chiwaki, told AFP.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency …

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visit the the crippled Fukushima Dai-i …

“We pin our hopes on sound judgement by people in Tokyo,” Chiwaki said.

Campaigners allege that government officials and TEPCO executives failed to take necessary measures to shield the plant against the March 2011 tsunami.

They also hold them responsible for a delay in announcing data predicting how radiation would spread from the facility in the aftermath of the accident.

But prosecutors decided to exempt all of them, saying that TEPCO and government officials could not predict an earthquake and tsunami of that size, and there was nothing wrong with their post-quake response under unexpected emergency situations.

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer representing the campaigners, said “there were lots of measures that officials could have taken to prevent the disaster.”

“We won’t give up indictment of the officials,” he said.

Campaigners last year filed a separate complaint to prosecutors over TEPCO’s handling of increasing waters contaminated with radiation after used for cooling the stricken reactors, accusing them of committing pollution-related crimes.

Separately, TEPCO officials and senior government officials face several civil lawsuits that were filed by thousands of plaintiffs seeking compensation for mental and financial damage, demanding full restoration of the pre-accident environment in their hometowns.

The waves created by the tsunami swept more than 18,000 people to their deaths across the country and destroyed entire communities.