We warned mere days after the Japanese earthquake that the West Coast of North America could be hit with radiation.
The peer-reviewed scientific journal Science of the Total Environment reports:
Massive amounts of anthropogenic radionuclides were released from the nuclear reactors located in Fukushima (northeastern Japan) between 12 and 16 March 2011 following the earthquake and tsunami. Ground level air radioactivity was monitored around the globe immediately after the Fukushima accident. This global effort provided a unique opportunity to trace the surface air mass movement at different sites in the Northern Hemisphere.
The analysis of the air mass forward movements during 12th -16th March showed that the air mass was displaced eastward from the Fukushima area and bifurcated into a northern and a southern branch outside of Japan (Fig. 3). This eastward bifurcation of air masses is in agreement with the simulation of the potential dispersion of the radioactive cloud after the nuclear accident of Fukushima (Weather OnlineWebsite of United Kingdom, UK, 2012).
This work clearly demonstrates how little dissipation occurred during this time due to the nature of the rapid global air circulation system, and the Fukushima radioactive plume contaminated the entire Northern Hemisphere during a relatively short period of time.
Note: The West Coast of North America is also at risk from ocean radiation.
The Department of Homeland Security and National Nuclear Security Administration recently sent low-flying helicopters over the San Francisco Bay Area to test for radiation. But they almost certainly will not make their findings public.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Engineers Charge Government Coverup: Reactor Meltdown “Absolute Certainty” If Dam Fails … 100s of Times More Likely than Tsunami that Hit Fukushima
Numerous American nuclear reactors are built within flood zones:
As one example, on the following map (showing U.S. nuclear power plants built within earthquake zones), the red lines indicate the Mississippi and Missouri rivers:
No wonder, nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said:
Sandbags and nuclear power shouldn’t be put in the same sentence.
And the Huntsville Times wrote in an editorial last year:
A tornado or a ravaging flood could just as easily be like the tsunami that unleashed the final blow [at Fukushima as an earthquake].
The Hill notes today:
An engineer with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) says the agency has withheld documents showing reactor sites downstream of dams are vulnerable to flooding, and an elevated risk to the public’s safety.
Richard Perkins, an NRC reliability and risk engineer, was the lead author on a July 2011 NRC report detailing flood preparedness. He said the NRC blocked information from the public regarding the potential for upstream dam failures to damage nuclear sites.
Perkins, in a letter submitted Friday with the NRC Office of Inspector General, said that the NRC “intentionally mischaracterized relevant and noteworthy safety information as sensitive, security information in an effort to conceal the information from the public.” The Huffington Post first obtained the letter.
He added the NRC “may be motivated to prevent the disclosure of this safety information to the public because it will embarrass the agency.” He claimed redacted documents in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request showed the NRC possessed “relevant, notable, and derogatory safety information for an extended period but failed to properly act on it.”
The report in question was completed four months after … Fukushima.
The report concluded that, “Failure of one or more dams upstream from a nuclear power plant may result in flood levels at a site that render essential safety systems inoperable.”
Eliot Brenner, an NRC spokesman, told The Hill on Monday that the flooding report has been rolled into the agency’s “very robust” body of work on lessons learned post-Fukushima. He declined to comment directly on the letter.
“We cannot discuss the reasons for the redactions,” Brenner said. “The NRC coordinated with the Department of Homeland Security, the Army Corps of Engineers and FERC on the necessary redactions.”
Huffington Post reported:
In a letter submitted Friday afternoon to internal investigators at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a whistleblower engineer within the agency accused regulators of deliberately covering up information relating to the vulnerability of U.S. nuclear power facilities that sit downstream from large dams and reservoirs.
These charges were echoed in separate conversations with another risk engineer inside the agency who suggested that the vulnerability at one plant in particular — the three-reactor Oconee Nuclear Station near Seneca, S.C. — put it at risk of a flood and subsequent systems failure, should an upstream dam completely fail, that would be similar to the tsunami that hobbled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan last year.
The engineer is among several nuclear experts who remain particularly concerned about the Oconee plant in South Carolina, which sits on Lake Keowee, 11 miles downstream from the Jocassee Reservoir. Among the redacted findings in the July 2011 report — and what has been known at the NRC for years, the engineer said — is that the Oconee facility, which is operated by Duke Energy, would suffer almost certain core damage if the Jocassee dam were to fail. And the odds of it failing sometime over the next 20 years, the engineer said, are far greater than the odds of a freak tsunami taking out the defenses of a nuclear plant in Japan.
“The probability of Jocassee Dam catastrophically failing is hundreds of times greater than a 51 foot wall of water hitting Fukushima Daiichi,” the engineer said. “And, like the tsunami in Japan, the man?made ‘tsunami’ resulting from the failure of the Jocassee Dam will –- with absolute certainty –- result in the failure of three reactor plants along with their containment structures.
“Although it is not a given that Jocassee Dam will fail in the next 20 years,” the engineer added, “it is a given that if it does fail, the three reactor plants will melt down and release their radionuclides into the environment.”
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Huffington Post, Richard H. Perkins, a reliability and risk engineer with the agency’s division of risk analysis, alleged that NRC officials falsely invoked security concerns in redacting large portions of a report detailing the agency’s preliminary investigation into the potential for dangerous and damaging flooding at U.S. nuclear power plants due to upstream dam failure.
Perkins, along with at least one other employee inside NRC, also an engineer, suggested that the real motive for redacting certain information was to prevent the public from learning the full extent of these vulnerabilities, and to obscure just how much the NRC has known about the problem, and for how long.
“What I’ve seen,” Perkins said in a phone call, “is that the NRC is really struggling to come up with logic that allows this information to be withheld.”
Government Dumping of Nuclear Waste Still Poses a Threat … Decades Later
Governments have also covered up dumping of nuclear waste in the ocean. As the International Atomic Energy Agency notes, 13 countries used ocean dumping to “dispose” of radioactive waste between 1946 and 1993.
According to the United Nations, some companies have been dumping radioactive waste and other hazardous materials into the coastal waters of Somalia [well after the treaties were signed], taking advantage of the fact that the country has had no functioning government from the early 1990s onwards. This has caused health problems for locals in the coastal region and poses a significant danger to Somalia’s fishing industry and local marine life.
Wikipedia also provides a breakdown by region:
[North Atlantic] 78% of dumping at Atlantic Ocean is done by UK (35,088TBq), followed by Switzerland (4,419TBq), USA (2,924TBq) and Belgium (2,120TBq). Sunken USSR nuclear submarines are not included.
137 x 103 tones were dumped by 8 European countries. USA did not report tonnage nor volume of 34,282 containers.
[Pacific Ocean] USSR 874TBq [i.e. terabecquerels], USA 554 TBq, Japan 15.1TBq, New Zealand 1+TBq and unknown figure by South Korea. 751×103m3 were dumped by Japan and USSR. USA did not report tonnage nor volume of 56,261 containers.
[Sea of Japan] USSR dumped 749TBq in the Sea of Japan, Japan dumped 15.1TBq south of main island. South Korea dumped 45 tones (unknown radio activity value) in the Sea of Japan.
As the Norwegian environmental group Bellona Fondation reported last month, Russia has just admitted that it dumped 19 radioactive ships plus 14 nuclear reactors – some of them containing fissible material – into the ocean:
The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.
Per Strand of the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority told Aftenposten that the information on the radioactive waste had come from the Russian authorities gradually.
“No one can guarantee that this outline we have received is complete,” he said.
He added that Russia has set up a special commission to undertake the task of mapping the waste, the paper reported.
A Norwegian-Russian Expert Group will this week start an expedition in areas of the Kara Sea, which the report released by Russia says was used as a radioactive dump until the early 1990s
Bellona’s Igor Kurdrik, an expert on Russian naval nuclear waste, said that, “We know that the Russians have an interest in oil exploration in this area. They therefore want to know were the radioactive waste is so they can clean it up before they beging oil recovery operations.”
He cautiously praised the openness of the Russian report given to Norway and that Norway would be taking part in the waste charting expedition.
Bellona thinks that Russia has passed its report to Norway as a veiled cry for help, as the exent of the problem is far too great for Moscow to handle on its own.
Kudrik said that one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 meters of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.
Information that the reactors about the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February.
“This danger had previously been unknown, and is very important information. When they search and map these reactors, they must be the first priority,” said Kudrik.
Researchers will now evaluate whether it is possible to raise the submarine, and attempt to determine if it is leaking radioactivity into the sea.
(Here is a slideshow of one of Bellona’s earlier expeditions to research Russian nuclear ocean dumping in the same region.)
Wikipedia provides details of nuclear submarine accidents, including the K-27:
Eight nuclear submarines have sunk as a consequence of either accident or extensive damage: two from the United States Navy, four from the Soviet Navy, and two from the Russian Navy.
K-27: The only Project 645 submarine, equipped with a liquid metal cooled reactor, was irreparably damaged by a reactor accident (control rod failure) on May 24, 1968. 9 were killed in the reactor accident. After shutting down the reactor and sealing the compartment, the Soviet Navy scuttled her in shallow water of the Kara Sea on September 6, 1982, contrary to the recommendation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Nuclear scientists might defend previous ocean dumping by saying “we thought it was safe”. And this may be true.
But a previously-secret 1955 U.S. government report found that the ocean may not adequately “dilute” nuclear materials.