Radiation Experts: Radiation Standards Are Up to 1,000 Higher Than Is Safe for the Human Body

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Laddie's picture

Watch the 1959 film ON THE BEACH stars Gregory Peck, Anthony Perkins, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire.

Oh yeah.

Drag Racer's picture

NHK World just showed the hugh 'mega float' in tow heading to the plant for filling with radioactive water

some details on the float...



Drag Racer's picture

radiation levels in the ocean around the plant are getting seriously high

Monday's sample also contained 1.1 million times the legal limit of cesium 137, which has a half life of 30 years.


Jim in MN's picture

See Figure 7 on page 14 for cesium-burnup relationship.



Jim in MN's picture

Holy Hidden Estimate, Batman!


I will take another look at this later, it's a sort of joint international estimate of Fukushima Daiichi emissions from the French, Finnish, US and the almost well named 'European Technical Safety Organisation Network (ETSON),' which should have had Joint at the start for a classic acronym.

They estimate a cesium release at 10% of Chernobyl over ten days, that is, 1% per day or Chernobyl equivalent in 100 days.  First of all, its noteworthy from a CYA standpoint that this estimate is out there, admitting that we're looking at a Chernobyl type event, but entirely unnoticed by the press as far as I can tell.

Analytically, this estimate only counts the rods loaded in the unit 1, 2 and 3 cores.  It omits the spent fuel at units 1-3 and doesn't mention unit 4 at all.  Plus it estimates the cesium and other radioisotopes "using proportions usually encountered in irradiated fuel" which makes me wonder what that burnup assumption is. 

Just based on the fuel rods counted, though, this 'semi-official, public but hidden in plain sight' estimate includes just 1,335 of the 3,843 fuel rods in the heavily damaged buildings.  So, a simple correction is to multiply their emission estimate by three.  It's not 10% of Chernobyl in ten days, it's 30%.  A Chernobyl every 30 days.  Not so far from the suspicions of the blogosphere after all.

As for burnup, it's a strong influence on fission byproduct inventory.  Going from the Chernobyl burnup of 11,000 MW-days per ton to twice that implies cesium also roughly doubles.  Fukushima Daiichi seems to have been loading rods to pools in the 24,000-29,000 range.  So a very simple change in this burnup assumption would bring the 'official' estimate in line with mine...more or less.

And that's NOT good.


Jim in MN's picture

LOL, not entirely unnoticed by the press.  Good old Platts Energy dutifully reported it...probably pointed out to them by the NRC.  Who themselves retain plausible deniability as they were merely 'consulted' by zee Franch.

No wonder the industry folk think it's no biggie.  Fuckin' A.  What a cluster.  They really don't know....?!?


Fukushima releases one-tenth of those from Chernobyl: France's IRSN

Paris (Platts)--17Mar2011/203 pm EDT/1803 GMT


Releases up to now from Japan's Fukushima I nuclear power plant are about a tenth of what was released from the Chernobyl-4 reactor in Ukraine in 1986, experts at France's Institute of Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety, IRSN, said Thursday.

But Thierry Charles, IRSN's head expert on the Japanese crisis, said at a midday CET briefing there was a "ray of hope" for the beleaguered reactor site, compared with the "very pessimistic" outlook at the same time on Wednesday, because firefighters had managed to spray water onto spent fuel pools whose heat was rising, and Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it expected to restore regular electric power later Thursday to emergency cooling systems for the three reactors whose cores were partly damaged.

Tepco "has regained a certain control over the situation" at Fukushima I, Charles said. "Not everything is under control," he said, noting that it might be difficult to reconnect equipment and that the restored power source might not be completely reliable.

"But it's the first reassuring information we've had since Saturday," he said, referring to the day after when the six-unit Fukushima I site north of Tokyo was hit by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that knocked out all power sources.

Charles said that if the spent fuel pools at reactors 3 and 4 should be emptied of water, the dose rates on the site would be so high that it would be extremely difficult to work there. But that doesn't seem to be the case, contrary to some reports on Wednesday, he said.

At the site's reactor 3, where a containment breach had been suspected, Tepco has measured pressure in the reactor vessel, a sign that the steam inside is not escaping as had been feared, he said.

But what's important is continuous cooling by any means available of both the reactor cores and the spent fuel pools, he said.

Patrick Gourmelon, IRSN's medical expert, said that there was no need for any member of the public to take stable iodine tablets to avert thyroid cancer, adding that the tablets can create other health problems.

IRSN's calculations are based on the volatile radioelements most important for health impact, essentially iodine, cesium and tellurium.

Chernobyl released about 6 Exabecquerels or 6 x 10 to the 18th becquerels of those elements, according to IRSN. Releases from Fukushima as of Thursday were a little under 7.5 x 10 to the 17th becquerels of those elements.

--Ann MacLachlan, ann_maclachlan@platts.com

Similar stories appear in Nucleonics Week. See more information at http://bit.ly/NucleonicsWeek

geekgrrl's picture

I agree with Matte_Black. GW is attracting the trolls for a reason. Hitting too close to home. Threatening the status quo. Exposing the lie.

Jim in MN's picture

Looks like the ocean off of Fukushima is NOT taken up by the Kuroshio Current.  It is a mixed zone where two other currents peter out, with 'no dominant mean flow'.

So, that part of the ocean may indeed be fucked.  It isn't a conveyor belt.


Discussion on page 268.

Matte_Black's picture

We're going to see a large number of very unpleasant facts like this emerge over time, imo.

I'm learning that the really shitty thing about nuclear reactors going to hell is that you aren't really left with real choices for managing the situation once it gets this bad.

The cost of this thing is going to be ungodly.

Scritchy's picture

Sarcasm mode / on

Just because the melt-down could get into ground water which is at sea level and the ocean is only furlongs away, that doesn't mean that there is anything to worry about.

Sarcasm mode / off


Matte_Black's picture

lol... clearly we'll just have to raise the 'safety levels' again.

At some point we will learn what fission has to teach us about hubris.

This isn't my optimal learning mode, but I guess I'll have to just man up.

btdt's picture

TEPCO announced the result of the pit water that's been pouring into the ocean and the numbers are mind-boggling. And they, and their handlers in the government tell everyone that the ocean is safe. Waaahhhh.


Matte_Black's picture

Detection of iodine-131:

  • Water inside the pit: 5.4 million becquerels/cubic centimeter

  • Water at the crack, outside the pit: 5.2 million becquerels/cubic centimeter

  • Seawater near the crack: 300,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter (7.5 million times the national safety limit)

  •  omfg
Lady Heather...UNCLE's picture

Mini nukes used in 911...yes, I do not put that past the perps

Jim in MN's picture

Huh.  I wonder how Best Korea will express itself.

S. Korea expresses concern at TEPCO's release of radioactive water

SEOUL, April 5, Kyodo

South Korea has expressed concern to Japan over the release of radioactive water by Tokyo Electric Power Co. into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday, citing South Korean foreign ministry officials.

The nuclear plant has been leaking radiation since the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled it last month and TEPCO released contaminated water into the sea on Monday.

''It's the proximity between the two countries that makes Japan's release of water a pressing issue for us,'' an unnamed ministry official was quoted as saying.

Seoul had yet to determine the extent of possible environmental damage it would suffer if the releases continued in Japan.

The official said South Korea's embassy in Tokyo delivered the concern to Japan on Monday, asking what measures Japan was taking to stem the effect of radiation in neighboring waters, according to Yonhap.

Another official also said Seoul was in the process of establishing a specific guideline by which it would determine how harmful TEPCO's release of radioactive water is.

''For now, we have no clear standards to determine how much is how bad for us,'' the official was quoted as saying.

South Korea is working with scientific and legal experts to come up with a clear guideline, the official added.


f16hoser's picture

Does this have anything to do with the CBO wanting Death Panels implemented?

espirit's picture

Well... kill O'care, then kill the useless eaters. Better than a manmade de-pop virus traced back to the lab... an unfortunate nuclear accident.

Makes methink.

Scritchy's picture

True that. Where did AIDS come from? Most of the world is convinced it started in a gov't lab in the USA. The official U.S. story is that it went from African apes to Africans to an American airline steward to the rest of the world. What a joke.


Jim in MN's picture

Hmmm.  Another thread presents itself.

Been noodling away at why Chernobyl released such a small amount of cesium-137.  Yes, it was enough to render thousands of square kilometers uninhabitable, and kill a lot of people, and permanently mess up the poor children of Ukraine (new studies just being done), but it was only around 20-25 kg.  Fukushima looks set to emit a lot more.  But why? 

Cesium inventory in a reactor core is related to the 'burnup' of the fuel, how irradiated it becomes by leaving it in there longer.  I thought maybe Chernobyl had less cesium because the reactor had only been operational for a few years when the disaster occurred.  The OECD estimate is the burnup at Chernobyl was about 11,000 MWd/t (megawatt days per ton). 

Well upon further review, one can find research conference proceedings at which the industry is discussing how to push burnup farther and farther.  In Japan ten years ago, they were trying to get permission to push from 48,000 to 80,000.  See page 279:


I had thought maybe the Fukushima Daiichi fuel would be at twice the burnup of Chernobyl, but the spent fuel average there is passing 29,000.

Not only does this mean there is more cesium, strontium etc. but the release temperature is lowered, the decay heat is higher, thus the fuel can heat up and hit the release point faster and faster as burnup increases.  In fact the technical papers on this are discussing the distortions in the fuel rod cladding caused by expansion pressure from the fission product gases piling up inside the 'skin' of the rods.  And heightened corrosion and other phenomena...here's an abstract as an example from 2007:

"A pool-side oxide thickness measurement campaign for a number of high burnup fuels in some Japanese commercial BWRs has been conducted, in order to study a higher oxide thickness phenomenon observed on a high burnup 9x9 fuel Type B, which was fabricated by NFI and was irradiated in a BWR of TEPCO. The results showed that the combination of cladding chemical composition, irradiation period and coolant environment affected the corrosion behavior of fuel cladding. Cladding with low iron and low silicon content, which has been shown to have inferior corrosion properties, is no longer used for the fuel assemblies loaded in operating Japanese BWRs today and in the future, so this kind of cladding corrosion phenomenon will not occur. This paper describes the results of the oxide thickness measurement, which was performed as a joint study by TEPCO and NFI."

Much like a hot dog in a microwave.  When will it split open and emit the tasty odor?  They don't know. 

Anyway, another thing people don't want to talk about, I guess. 

For me it reduces the uncertainty in my estimate because it tends to increase the emission potential at Daiichi, which mitigates against other things like some of the cesium being carried off by water, or high temps 'draining' the gases from some of the rods.

But the more you think about it....WTF?  Like deferred maintenance at deregulated airlines, the pressure to reduce costs just relentlessly drips away, eroding safety over time...

essence's picture

Yes, good post and observation. Nuclear plants end up being subject to real life cost contraints. And certainly, they are likely to find themselves decades old, long in the tooth... and yet still having the potential to cause gastly amounts of harm.

Here's where I diverge from so many posters.
An admission... I confess, I am a consumer of energy. I use grid electricty. I enjoy a lengthy hot shower, heat in winter, and it sure is nice have a laundromat somewhere near (because I've done hand washed laundry & air drying ...and it's a pain in the ass).

So the question becomes.. by what means are power plants...powered?
Oil,Natural gas,coal,nuclear,tar sands... or politician hot air.

All except the latter will work... one just has to be willing to accept the trade offs for the benefits.  I have no illusions about getting something for nothing.

I'm all for public debates about this... just let's have no "NIMBY" arguments or any such flights from reality.  Currently the U.S. is intervining in the Middle East (in several countries) in order to protect OIL supply (let's call a spade a spade).

Oil,Coal, Nuclear or tar sands ... all involve trade offs.

Let's discuss them and air each ones dirty laundry.
And then decide.... pick our poison so to speak.
Everything involves trade offs.

God knows we can't look to government or corporations to be objective & truthful.





Matte_Black's picture

Prior to this accident I was always ambivalent about nuclear power. My feelings have changed given all I've learned since.

To put it simply, this technology is so dangerous that we cannot afford even one accident to happen because the threat is existentially grave. Chernobyl had the potential to turn all of Europe into a graveyard, but it didn't because they got lucky, after coming very close to a second much larger explosion.

Who knows where this accident will take us, but look at all we've had accept already. And that is the thing: there is no arguing with thesse things when they melt down... you have to do whatever has to be done to keep the worst from happening - ocean be damned - ecoshpere be damned - life itself be damned.

The cost is too fucking high, and your last sentence tells the rest of the story. You can't trust profit driven business or government - not really.

I too like hot showers and washing machines, and I confess that I don't know what the answer is to our energy needs, but these things have to go.

Of course they won't go at all, I don't believe. When people are cold and hungry nobody gives a shit where power comes from, and that seems to be the choice.

I find this depressing.

Jim in MN's picture

It seems like all options trend to a point of equivalent irritation, where they all suck about the same, and that's when society just kind of picks a direction and sets off.  Much like corporate strategy. 

What makes me mad is when there's no contingency planning.  Seems like the Zone of Confusion is becoming so profound there's nothing left to stand on.  Which of course allows Men of Will to do whatever they damn well please....but you and I both know that Men of Will are sociopaths lacking in decency and common sense, prone to evil and spectacular failure.  Because they lack faith, and trust. 

Perhaps the Mideast Revolution will provide some new democratic vibrancy, armed with oil, to kick the elite psychos in the nads.  Or the soon-to-be-founded New National Party will form a massive moderate bloc and send the Dems and Reps home to their mommies.  But I tend to think outside the box....

Matte_Black's picture

It seems like the Zone of Confusion is a direct result of their complete failure to have any sort of contigency planning in place. And we see this across the board. How many more times will we see Men of Well taken completely by surprise when perfectly predictable events happen and catastrophe ensues? I predict many. Your assessment of their character is well put.

We live in times so surreal that common folks are having difficulty understanding or even believing what is clearly taking place before their very eyes. Even when you point it out to them in the simplest terms and they 'want' to understand they can't believe that they have been so completely betrayed, that this is really happening, and that Jimmy Dean ain't ever coming back to the 5 & Dime.

I agree that we need a new politics. I don't think the Tea Party is going to be it though. A new party will have to be much smarter to avoid falling into all the partisan traps laying about our commons. We need a poltics of commonality rather than division, one that has its priorities in order.

One thing is sure about what is going on in the ME. Things are about the change in ways that will almost certainly be a shock to our incompetent leadership. It will be interesting to watch how those influences play out. All my hopes are outside the box these days.

Jim in MN's picture

Indeed.  Personally I am not here to comment on energy policy but just to help analyze this accident, and I wouldn't even do that if it was being done properly by the people who ought to be doing it.  

FWIW I am a supply portfolio kind of guy, not a silver bullet type.

Relevant factoid: Texas Utilities once used a formal 'citizens jury' that was given lots of info and allowed to deliberate...results used in actual resource planning.  It's a good model.  Makes folks think.

Matte_Black's picture

Yes, Jim, you bring up another interesting aspect that hadn't ocurred to me until you brought it up, but the pressure to maximize margin is ubiquitious so why not at Tepco too, right? It is a wtf moment.

That sounds like a huge increase in burnup. I don't know man, it seems like common sense that when you're playing around with power of such overwhelming potential you would want to maintain margins of safety as widely as possible.

Great post. I need to reread it though...

espirit's picture

+1  Thanks Jim, always glad to read your posts. Keep it up.

Scritchy's picture

When those Fuk us! hi Ma! reactor buildings blew sky high, it immediately became a metaphor for the global economy. All anyone can do now is forestall the inevitable meltdown.

High Plains Drifter's picture


rescue workers from 911 , dying .......

radiation poisoning, no?

I think whoever did 911 and blew those buildings up, had to resort to some small nukes or something to get the job done right. so the fire fighters and police and rescue workers are dying now at a fast rate......muy interesante, no?

the same thing will happen in japan. there is no known cure for it. once you got it, you got it. also , it can be passed to your wife and therefore your children as well.

Scritchy's picture

Not gonna be a problem in Japan. They're dumping the radioactive stuff into the ocean so nobody is in danger of breathing it. Those guys are geniuses. Also, it will soon be easier to see the fish at night.


Scritchy's picture

Hmmmm, you commented at 22:05 and then later at 22:03. Are you a time traveler? If so, when will it be safe to go outside again? 

10kby2k's picture

we'll see how close immelt gets to the reactor site

Matte_Black's picture

One wonders if Mr. Immelt foresees a booming job market in Oncology.

ebworthen's picture

The iodine will be good for his thyroid and prostate, and I think those private jets like 30,000 feet so he'll need it.

ebworthen's picture

Nothing like looking 20 lbs. heavier for some good P.R.

ebworthen's picture

They'll load him up with iodine tablets and a lead wetsuit so he can do a photo-op.

gall batter's picture

oncology recapitulates phylogeny.

Matte_Black's picture

lol... I had to google phylogeny.

*note to self: avoid fights with gall batter

: )

10kby2k's picture


immelt should take a swim in the nearby ocean to prove his mettle

Drag Racer's picture

GE CEO Immelt in Japan says he feels bad for their plight but will make power generating equipment available for the needs of Tokyo. (NHK World video feed)

I sure as hell hope he meant the generators would be donated. Immelt and GE are in no position to ask for 1 stinking dime.

WTFisThat's picture

The sollution to the radiation problem is to sue the governments, well, they poluted our environment so what are we waiting for?

rlouis's picture

Amazing troll action. Some are betting the statistical probabilities don't include them, that they can ignore the environmental costs and leave the consequences to everyone else. 

Some would probably like a job doing something other than spewing radioactive negativity.  Don't know if it's true or not, but I heard on the radio this morning that TEPCO is paying $5,000 per day for clean-up workers and they're recruiting around the world.  Could be a short career, but I hear the job is so hot they call themselves the 'glow boys'. 


Horizon3's picture

Considering that by the researchers own admissions, they "inserted" variables in the statistical algorithms when no hard data was available. (faux science speak for "we pulled em outa our ass")

I think I'll stick to the natural odds. Which are there's a 24% chance of me dying from cancer of any type, which is the same as yours.


Matte_Black's picture

Who is pulling shit out of their ass, troll?

Go back upthread and look at the fucking lie I caught you in, sock puppet.

Horizon3's picture

I ignored you because you don't know shit from shineola.

But anyway, when I-131 passes it's half life in is no longer harmful to anyone, it decays to I-53 which is not dangerous.

Simple enough for ya?


geekgrrl's picture

LOL. Go away, troll.

FYI, you don't understand the meaning of half-life.