Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The danger from the Japanese nuclear crisis is not over.
As nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen notes, 7 weeks after the Japanese earthquake, Chernobyl wasn't emitting any gas or liquids, yet Fukushima still is:
The Fukushima reactors are still emitting radioactive steam, and spilling high levels of radiation into the Pacific ocean. indeed, the Japanese are nowhere close to stopping radiation release.
Gundersen also suspects that the explosion at reactor number 3 was a nuclear explosion, where the initial hydrogen explosion triggered a "prompt criticality" which spewed radiation high into the air:
As WSWS notes:
As I noted in March, dust control is an important part of reducing exposure to radiation:
Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, who has spent 39 years working in the nuclear industry and now acts as an expert witness, has suggested that the explosion in Number 3 building at Fukushima on March 14 may have been more serious than has so far been admitted.
Gundersen argues that an initial hydrogen explosion caused a prompt criticality in the spent-fuel rod pool at the top of the Number 3 reactor building. Prompt criticality is the term used in the nuclear industry for an exponential increase in the number of fission events. That is to say a runaway nuclear chain reaction may have taken place in the spent fuel rods.
Gundersen postulates that the upward vector, the upward thrust, from the explosion in Building 3 may have been sufficient to carry radioactive isotopes from the fuel rods into the atmosphere and to disperse them over many thousands of miles. He points out that uranium has been found on Hawaii, americium has been found in New England and plutonium dust has been found on the Fukushima site. These latter elements are transuranic, i.e. heavier than uranium, and indicate that nuclear fuel was volatilized at Fukushima.
A leading alternative health authority - Dr. Andrew Weil, a medical doctor who runs the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona - writes today in response to the question of how to protect ourselves against radiation:
Since radioactive particles may be carried by dust, having a HEPA filter [to vacuum up dust] in your home would also be a good idea in the event of a nuclear accident that is close enough to be of concern.
And Marco Kaltofen - a civil engineer with a master's in environmental engineering - also stresses control of dust to reduce radioactive exposure:
- Have to prevent particles from landing, or clean them off. We've learned how to deal with toxic dust (for example, lead in dust). For example, wash your hands before preparing food. Take off your shoes when you come home, and leave your shoes at the door so you won't track dust inside your house. [Don't stack your indoor slippers with your outdoor shoes; that will spread dust inside the house.] Take off your coat and hang it in a hall closet near the front door
- Geiger counter won't measure dusty fallout. It usually takes more expensive equipment [he's not trying to talk us out of buying and using geiger counters, but simply warning that they'll only pick up larger collections of radiation, and not necessarily small groups of particles]
- Americium, europium, bismith, uranium and other radioactive particles from Japan are appearing on the West Coast
- But problem will be nationwide
- Exposure from particles can be long-term, as opposed to radiation from airplanes or x-rays
- There is more radiation in Japan than from atmospheric (above-ground) nuclear testing
- Could affect food grown in gardens
- Need more monitoring
Note: I am not a healthcare professional.