Monthly Archives: March 2011

FUKUSHIMA FALLOUT – Lessons from Chernobyl

The Man Who Blew the Whistle on Nuclear Denial After Chernobyl

Dr. Dave DeSante is the founder of the Institute for Bird Population in Point Reyes, California.

After the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl passed over the U.S. West Coast in the spring of 1986 his research uncovered a severe die-off of young birds. [Download PDF of study here.]

Later, researchers Gould and Goldman duplicated his results with human mortality data from both the U..S. and Germany, as reported in their 1990 book Deadly Deceit.

The young, the old, and those with weak immune systems were the main casualties – an estimated over forty thousand in all.

In mid-March of 2011, as the nuclear disaster in Japan deepens by the day, scientific predictions of fallout again crossing the Pacific are being made.

In this in depth video interview EON producers Mary Beth Brangan and Jim Heddle ask Dr. DeSante to explain his findings and their implications for today. [ His new updated commentary ‘Remembering Chernobyl…’ follows below, or download PDF here. ]

The Condor, published by the Cooper Ornithological Society, is one of the two most prestigious peer-reviewed ornithological journals published in North America, the other being The Auk, published by the American Ornithologists’ Union. DeSante & Geupel (1987) was the runner-up to the 1991 H. R. Painton Award for the best paper appearing in The Condor in the previous four years. DeSante and Geupel (1987) showed that the number of young birds produced in 1986 at the Palomarin Field Station near Bolinas, CA, was 62.3% below the previous ten-year mean and fell well outside the relationship between annual rainfall and productivity established during the previous ten years. The timing of the reproductive failure, its geographical extent in California, and the landbird species most affected are all consistent with the following hypothesis: that the greatly elevated levels of radioactive iodine from the massive April 26, 1986, Chernbyl nuclear plant accident that fell-out over portions of northern California coincident with rainfall on May 6, 1986, were responsible for the landbird reproductive failure by adversely affecting the thyroids and, thus, the development of the young birds during their first nine-twelve days after hatching while they were being fed by their parents in their nests.

The major findings presented by Gould & Goldman in Deadly Deceit revolve around statistical estimates of excess deaths following Chernobyl and other releases of radiation, and indicate that low-level radiation from fallout from nuclear testing and from nuclear reactors may have done far more damage to humans and other living things than previously thought. In particular, they show that the arrival of radiation in the U.S. in early May, 1986, from the Chernobyl disaster “was followed almost immediately by an extraordinary force of mortality, amounting to perhaps 40,000 excess deaths in the summer months, especially in the month of May.” Also, please note that Chapter 3 of Deadly Deceit, titled “Silent Summer” and authored by Kate Millpointer, is a lay person’s account of the story behind DeSante & Geupel (1987).

Update: Remembering Chernobyl ….
Dave DeSante, Ph.D. – The Institute for Bird Populations –

As the plume from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan makes its way across the Pacific toward California, it brings back memories of the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident 25 years ago. I was working at the Palomarin field station on the Point Reyes National Seashore in coastal Marin County, California, at that time and was in the final stages of analyzing 10 years (1976-1985) of landbird breeding productivity data as a function of the amount of rainfall that occurred during the preceding fall/winter/spring. We had just found that the number of young birds produced during summer was highest following winters with average rainfall and decreased following winters with either reduced or excessive amounts of rainfall. Based on this relationship between numbers of young birds and winter rainfall, and on the amount of rainfall that occurred during the winter of 1985-86, which was slightly above the 10-year mean, we expected that numbers of young birds produced during the summer of 1986 would be about 10% above the 10-year mean. To our surprise, however, we found that the numbers of young landbirds produced at Palomarin during the summer of 1986 was 63.3% below the 10-year mean and represented a highly statistically significant outlier from the relationship established during the previous 10 years.

Our subsequent analysis of this event led to the hypothesis that the 1986 landbird reproductive failure at Palomarin was caused by radioactive iodine from the Chernobyl plume which passed over northern California and fell out coincident with rainfall on May 6. The timing of the reproductive failure, its geographical extent in California, and the landbird species most affected were all consistent with this hypothesis, which suggested that elevated levels of radioactive iodine adversely affected the development of hatchling birds by being absorbed into their thyroid glands during the 9-12 days when they were being fed by their parents in the nest. Similar reproductive failures of landbirds were documented from farther north in coastal California and from the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains where rain, and thus large amounts of fallout, were coincident with the passage of the Chernobyl plume, but not from the east slope of the Sierra or southern California where rain was not coincident with the passage of the plume.

In addition, the reproductive failure at Palomarin did not begin at the onset of the breeding season nor did it extend throughout the entire breeding season, but coincided with the roughly 10 weeks between about May 6 and July 16 during which time young birds were in the nest and elevated levels of radioactive iodine were present in the environment (Iodine-131 has an 8-day half-life, such that elevated levels were reduced by over 99% after about 72 days). Other hypothetical causes for the 1986 reproductive failure, such as unusual weather during the preceding 12 months or during the breeding season itself (in terms of both averages and extreme events in either rainfall or temperature), decreases in food supply, habitat changes, and applications of pesticides, were rejected because such conditions either did not occur or were not consistent with the productivity data. All of these results were published in a peer-reviewed paper in the prestigious North American ornithological journal, The Condor (DeSante, D. F., and G. R. Geupel. 1987. Landbird productivity in central coastal California: the relationship to annual rainfall and a reproductive failure in 1986. The Condor 89:636-653).

Analyses of subsequent data showed that the survival of older adult individuals (i.e., those that were four or more year old in 1986 – the average lifespan of adult landbirds is only about two years) of three non-migratory landbird species at Palomarin was lower during the winter following Chernobyl (1986-87) than during any of the previous six winters. In contrast, survival of younger adults (individuals that were 1-3 years old in 1986) of these three species at Palomarin during the winter of 1986-87 was higher than during any of the previous six winters, presumably because the winter of 1986-87 saw weather conditions favorable for landbird survival. This suggests that the excess mortality of landbirds exposed to the Chernobyl plume was limited to very young birds (nestlings) and very old adults.

Finally, I examined data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, a network of nearly 3,000 randomly distributed but fixed routes along secondary roads in the United States where, at the height of the breeding season each year, birds are counted at 50 fixed stops along the route. Using these data, I compared the changes between 1986 and 1987 in the numbers of adult birds counted with the analogous changes between 1985 and 1986. The idea was that, if substantially fewer young birds than normal were produced during the summer of 1986, then the numbers of adult birds counted in 1987 would tend to be fewer than in 1986, and the extent of the declines between 1986 and 1987 would tend to be greater than the analogous declines between 1985 and 1986. Indeed, I found that this was the case. But more importantly, I found that the magnitude of the difference between the 1986-1987 changes and the 1985-1986 changes in various regions of the United Sates was significantly correlated with the amount of radioactive Iodine-131 detected in milk in those regions, as measured by the Department of Energy’s Environmental Measurement Laboratory. Thus, the greater was the amount of radioactive Iodine that fell from the Chernobyl plume in 1986, the greater was the decline in adult birds in 1987 as compared to the corresponding change in adult birds between 1985 and 1986. This suggests that the landbirds in those areas in the United States that received higher doses of radioactive Iodine from Chernobyl suffered greater reproductive failures during 1986 (or higher mortality of adults during the winter of 1986-87 or both).

Unfortunately, the adverse effects on productivity and survival in the United States caused by the radioactive plume from Chernobyl were apparently not limited to landbirds. Indeed, Jay Gould and Benjamin Goldman present compelling data showing that humans in the United States also suffered extraordinary mortality from the Chernobyl accident (Gould, J. M., and B. A. Goldman. 1990. Deadly Deceit: Low Level Radiation, High Level Cover-up. Four Walls Eight Windows, New York. 222 pp). Their major findings involve statistical estimates of excess deaths following Chernobyl (and other releases of radiation) and indicate that low-level radiation from fallout from nuclear reactor accidents (and from nuclear bomb testing) may have done far more damage to humans than previously thought. In particular, they showed that the arrival of radiation in the U.S. in early May 1986 from the Chernobyl disaster “was followed almost immediately by an extraordinary force of [human] mortality, amounting to perhaps 40,000 excess deaths in the summer months, especially in the month of May.” Indeed, they showed sharp increases in mortality in the United States in infants, in persons aged 65 and older, and in persons with pneumonia, AIDS, and other infectious diseases during the summer months of 1986 compared to the same period in 1985. Again, as with birds, these are the very young and the very old, but the excess deaths in humans also included persons with compromised immune systems.

Even more importantly, Gould and Goldman (1990) showed that the percent difference in total human deaths in various regions of the United States between May-August of 1986 and May-August of 1985 was significantly correlated with the amount of Iodine-131 in milk in those regions. Moreover, the best fit to the relationship between excess human mortality during the summer of 1986 and the amount of radioactive Iodine in milk was not linear, but rather was logarithmic, indicating that the increases in mortality associated with increases in radioactivity were proportionally larger at low levels of radioactivity than at high levels. When Gould and Goldman extrapolated the logarithmic relationship that they found for the United States between excess infant mortality (which averaged 12.3% in June 1986) and the relatively low levels of Iodine-131 (which were generally less than 100 picocuries per liter) to the much higher levels of radioactive Iodine in Europe (peaking at over 10,000 picocuries per liter), they were able to correctly predict the elevated rates of excess infant mortality that were found there (e.g., about 68% in the southern parts of West Germany).

This latter result arising from Gould and Goldman’s study of the effects of radiation from Chernobyl on humans is very important. It indicates that the conventional wisdom of assuming a single linear dose-response curve extending from high to very low levels of radiation is wrong and “underestimates the effects of low-level radiation on the most vulnerable members of the [human] population by a factor of about one thousand.” This may especially be the case when the radioactive particles are ingested into the body by eating, drinking, or breathing, as opposed to the body being bombarded by a very brief pulse of radiation as from an x-ray. The bottom line is that severe deleterious effects on human health in Japan from the Fukushima accident may extend much farther away from the nuclear plant than authorities are suggesting. Moreover, deleterious effects on human health in North America may also be much more severe than Americans are being told to expect, especially perhaps along the West Coast where the plume will first arrive and where there may be a high probability of coincident rainfall which will likely increase the extent of fallout from the plume.
Please remember, your bite-size contributions on our Donate Page are what help keep us going. You can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA

Nuclear Fallout Alert – Digest Special Edition 3-17-11 (Updated 3-15-11)

A one-year-old boy is re-checked for radiation exposure after being decontaminated in Nihonmatsu, Fukushiima, northern Japan on Monday.

Update 3-17-2011: Protective Measures from Radioactivity in North America – From NIRS – the Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Update: IFG’s Japan Nuclear Crisis Center

Hello EON Friends,
The following is a special EON News Net Digest edition of reports and information sources about the unfolding situation with six of Japan’s seismically-damaged nuclear reactors. While this blog has focused on non-ionizing radiation issues up to now, the ionizing part of the electro-magnetic spectrum is also part of this site’s focus. We’re award-wining filmmakers and organizers who have been actively involved in the nuclear issue since the 1980s. Remembering the “no problem” official responses to both the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear catastrophes, we urge our readers to take with a large grain of salt any of the ‘relax-no-problem’ reassurances coming from the Japanese authorities and the corporate media.

Update: Fallout simulation: Austrian meteorological service [ Scroll down to bottom of that page for simulation on world map.]

Fallout Monitoring Resource: Check out, home of the National Radiation Map, depicting environmental radiation levels across the USA, updated in real time every minute. This is the first web site where the average citizen (or anyone in the world) can see what radiation levels are anywhere in the USA at any time (see Disclaimer.)

Update: Helen Caldicot, Harvey Wasserman, Greg Palast on what’s what with Japan’s – and our – emerging nuclear emergency. Check out: KPFA’s Flashpoints with Denis Bernstein. [Did you know that the head of GE, the company that built the failed Japanese reactors – now owned by Tokyo Electric, the Japanese firm running those reactors – is Obama’s close advisor?]

The no-BS info on Japan’s disastrous nuclear operators – by Greg Palast

Update: Bloomberg – Apocalyptic Profit-Making
Yen, Dollar Advance as Fire at Japan Reactor Spurs Repatriation

Above left: Explosion at Japanese nuclear reactor. Right: US Reactors

Update:Reactor 3 Explosion Video

Update: Forth Reactor on Fire & Radiation Pouring Out

Update: Fire put off at 4th reactor of Japan’s Fukushima NPP (Update-2)
Evacuation ordered.

[Check our cred: You can view our work here. Specifically, we invite you to check out our nationally and internationally broadcast and toured: Free Zone, Strategic Trust, Islands on the Edge of Time, Public Exposure. ]

On the basis of our decades of experience researching, organizing and reporting on both ionizing and non-ionizing radiation risks, we urge you to least enlarge your pool of information sources by checking out some of the links and sites listed below. Briefly, here’s our take on the current situation…

Full Spectrum Riskiness
by James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan – EON

Caught in the Radiation Crossfire from Two Parts of the Electro-Magnetic Spectrum
Our increasing inundation in non-ionizing electro-magnetic ULF, ELF and radio frequency radiation from cordless phones, cell phones, cellphone antennas, wireless electric, gas and water meters on homes and businesses, and wireless in schools wasn’t challenging enough. Now we’re also faced with the likely exposure to ionizing radiation from Japan’s earthquake-damaged nuclear reactors carried across the North Pacific in a radioactive cloud that may reach the Northern California coast in as little as a week.

Deja Vu All Over Again
That happened once before in April of 1986, when the Russian Chernobyl reactor in the Ukraine exploded. Though official bodies denied it, when the radioactive cloud passed over the Bay Area, a subsequent classic study by West Marin ornithologist David DeSante indicated an associated period of lowered newborn survival rates in San Francisco Bay Area birds. Dr. Ernest Sternglass and Dr. Jay Gould also related the Chernobyl cloud’s passage to human health effects. In particular, they showed that the arrival of radiation in the U.S. in early May, 1986, from the Chernobyl disaster “was followed almost immediately by an extraordinary force of mortality, amounting to perhaps 40,000 excess deaths in the summer months, especially in the month of May.” [ see: David F. DeSante and Geoffrey R. Geupel, “Landbird productivity in central coastal California: the relationship to annual rainfall and a reproductive failure in 1986,” The Condor, 89:636-653. Gould, J. M., and B. A. Goldman. 1990. Deadly Deceit: Low Level Radiation, High Level Cover-up. Four Walls Eight Windows, New York. ISBN: 0-941423-35-2.]

That could well happen again if the winds bring us the significant release of radioactive elements from the melting Japanese Fukushima reactors. One of these reactors, #3, uses mixed uranium oxide and plutonium oxide, or so-called MOX nuclear fuel, which is the dirtiest. Such a cloud could drift across the US from west to east in the next week to ten days, depending on weather conditions.

Health Effects from Exposure to Ionizing Radiation
The Japanese plants have operated since the 1970’s. Ira Helfand, member of Physicians for Social Responsibility writes that, “After one year of operation, a commercial nuclear reactor contains 1000 times as much radioactivity as was released by the Hiroshima bomb. From a public health perspective, the most important isotopes are short-lived isotopes of iodine (like Iodine-131), Cesium-137, Strontium-90, and possibly Plutonium-239. Radioactive iodine caused thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in children after the Chernobyl accident. Cesium and strontium cause a number of different kinds of cancer and remain dangerous for hundreds of years; plutonium causes lung cancer as well as other types of cancer and remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.” The all important thyroid gland which governs hormone release and brain development in children, and myriad functions in adults, will readily absorb radioactive iodine-131, and the bones will absorb radioactive strontium-90. These elements will infiltrate our farmland and water when rain combines with the released material in the atmosphere.

Defensive Measures You Can Take

Those, like ourselves, who live in its potential path across the continent will be well-advised to monitor developments from several independent sources and to stock up on potassium iodide tablets. You can google for on-line sources, which are likely to dwindle fast. Loading up your and your children’s thyroid glands with appropriate doses of potassium iodide will help prevent absorption of radioactive iodine from the cloud. Kids are particularly vulnerable. It will be wise also to have a back-up store of water, just in case. If possible purchase and keep on hand your own reliable radiation detector like the Radalert 100 Handheld Geiger Counter or other similar devices available on-line. We will send out any other steps that can be taken as we research the situation.

A Boulder in the Path of the ‘Nuclear Renaissance’
Given the nuclear industry’s wet dream of a whole world-wide build-out of new nuclear power plants – being duplicitously touted as a ‘green’ response to climate change – it’s not surprising to see that the danger denialists, debunkers and industry spin doctors are already in gear and the cover-up has already begun. The Asian Wall Street Journal reports – see below – that the head of the Chinese nuclear power program still says, ‘its full speed ahead’ with China’s planned nuclear plant build-out because newer plants will be ‘safer.’ The Obama administration, with bi-partisan support, is committing an unprecidented amount of public money for a new generation of nukes. World wide, some 13 construction projects have started, which would mean more than one new reactor per month by 2015. [ See: Nuclear construction builds up for an interactive map of planned locations.] In California, PG&E, the company that brought us the San Bruno gas explosion, is asking to extend its license for the two aging reactors at Diablo Canyon until 2026. Never mind that they’re near earthquake faults, one of them only 1800 feet away.

‘Faulty’ Planning
One of the articles below details how Japan, with its volcanos and earthquake faults, is one of the worst places in the world to site nuclear power plants. California is not far behind. PG&E – of fatal gas line explosion and ‘smart’ meter fame – is pushing for a re-licensing of its Diablo Canyon plant, which is past its lifespan and sited on two of its own earthquake faults.

‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’
That’s the mantra of the current ruling elites. As Naomi Klein shows in her recent book ‘Shock Doctrine,’ the world system’s current power holders always aim to use every crisis, natural or man-made, as an excuse to advance their agenda. That’s what’s happening in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and a number of other GOP-dominated states, using Wall Street’s self-induced economic crisis as the excuse for rolling back collective bargaining rights, and indeed, as in Michigan’s new law, allowing a governor to appoint an individual or corporate ‘manager’ who will have the power to dissolve democratically elected bodies from school boards to city councils and rule by fiat.
But the shock doctrine can work both ways. When a system is far from equilibrium, small inputs can cause big outputs. The proverbial ‘butterfly wings in Borneo’ can make a difference. Now’s the time to kick the nuclear industry while its down! 60,000 Germans have the right idea….

Some useful and empowering links:
NIRS – Nuclear Information and Resource Service

BREAKING NEWS. Fact sheet on Fukushima reactors and aftermath of Japan earthquake.

Harvey Wassserman at is doing a great job of keeping up with current postings from around the world. [ See his Democracy Now interview in following post.]

Japan Facing Biggest Catastrophe Since Dawn of Nuclear Age

An informative interview with Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the DC-based Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) conducted by KPFA Radio’s Phillip Maldari is available here. After it loads, fast forward to minute 39.
For a PDF of Makhijani’s analysis, click here.

Beyond Nuclear – International focus

Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility– California focus

Some useful stories:

America on nuclear alert: Could fallout from Japan explosion reach U.S. West Coast? By Daily Mail Reporter

Scientists in the U.S. warned today of a ‘worst-case scenario’ in which the highly radioactive material could be blasted into the atmosphere and blown towards the West Coast of America. They said it could be picked up by powerful 30,000ft winds, carrying the debris across the Pacific and hitting America within four days. [For larger maps go to article ]

The forecast of wind direction from the state meteorological service of Austria – ©zamg
[Scroll down on that page to view animated simulation of fallout.]

‘Worst-case scenario’ could send nuclear cloud across Pacific

30,000ft winds would carry radioactive material across the ocean

U.S.S. Ronald Reagan hit by month’s radiation in just one hour

Japanese reactors are very similar to 23 in America

Read more:

U.S. warships, planes flee Japan’s nuclear-crisis coast

Meltdown Caused Nuke Plant Explosion: Safety Body TOKYO (Nikkei)–The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said Saturday afternoon the explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could only have been caused by a meltdown of the reactor core…. NISA is affiliated with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Japan Asks US To Help Stop Reactor Meltdown

CNN’s Dr. Gupta on Radiation Effects
As Japan’s nuclear problems expand, questions are plenty, but answers are not
By Richard T. Pienciak

The Fukushima nuclear plant lost containment integrity and is leaking radiation

by: Maggie Gundersen Sat Mar 12, 2011 at 10:20:52 AM EST

[Excerpt:] “The Fukushima nuclear power plant accident in Japan is a terrible tragedy for the people in Japan, and for the people in the path of the moving radioactive cloud.
“The Fukushima nuclear power plant was gravely impacted by the earthquake, tsunami, and additional earthquakes and aftershocks. It has been unable to cool the reactor core, and has had an explosion that severely damaged the containment. At the very beginning and half-way through this video you will see an explosive wave that shows that the top of the containment has blown off. A second reactor is also having great difficulty cooling its reactor core.

“The Fukushima nuke plant is almost identical to Vermont Yankee (VY). It has a Mark 1 (earliest) containment. The fuel pool is on the top floor, and after the explosion the fuel pool is open to the environment. Many years of spent fuel (the used fuel that is the most radioactive,) is not being cooled and is in direct contact with the air so it is beginning to release significant amounts of radiation.

“As a result of this devastating accident, radioactive Cesium, which lasts in the environment for 300-years and is absorbed by muscles in the human body, especially infant hearts, has been detected in the environment around the plant. People near the plant are already receiving as much radiation in an hour as they normally receive in one year. The delayed response to the accident has put thousands of lives in jeopardy. Like Three Mile Island (TMI), significant amounts of radiation are already in the environment, and like TMI, the government in Japan has waited too long to evacuate people. See the truth about TMI here.

“The Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant is a General Electric (GE) Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) with a Mark 1 containment. NRC said in 1972 that this containment should never have been built, and the design was ultimately changed, but not until at least 22 Mark 1’s were constructed in the US, and it is not clear how many throughout the world. Joseph Hendrie, inside the NRC, said, that the Mark 1 should never have been built, but he did not have the heart to shut them down (see end of post).

Maggie Gundersen :: The Fukushima nuclear plant lost containment integrity and is leaking radiation In response to the many emails and phone calls we have received, this post is an effort to provide sound analysis and information. Fairewinds Associates, Inc, the firm I founded, is a paralegal services and expert witness firm, and Arnie Gundersen is the chief engineer. We are not political pundits nor are we nuclear activists (pro or anti). Our work is expert testimony on nuclear engineering, reliability, and safety concerns, and we have clients throughout the US, Canada, and overseas….” [Read more…]


Economist: The Tension Mounts

Japan evacuates thousands from vicinity of two nuclear power plants

Karl Grossman: Hydrogen, Zirconium, Flashbulbs — and Nuclear Craziness

Fission Criticality In Cooling Ponds Threaten Explosion At Fukushima  

Asian Nations Closely Monitor Japan’s Nuclear-Plant Problems

60,000 Germans Mobilize Against Nukes

Japan Nuclear Crisis: Could it Happen in California?

General Electric-Designed Reactors in Fukushima Have 23 American Sisters

TMIA: Fukushima vs. Three Mile Island

Leuren Moret: Japan’s Deadly Game of Nuclear Roulette

Karl Grossman: Behind the Hydrogen Explosion at Fukushima

Nuclear Cover-up: Censorship in the USA?

Pro-Nuclear Propaganda: How Science, Government and the Press Conspire to Misinform the Public

Keith Olbermann: Good Night, Nuclear Power

Diablo Canyon Operators Admit Uncertainty on Seismic Concerns

UPDATE 1-GE: Too soon to assess Japan impact on nuclear sector

Informed consciousness and action are crucial at this time.
James Heddle and Mary Beth Brangan
for The EON Team
Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle are award-winning media producers who co-direct EON, the Ecological Options Network. Their documentaries have been nationally and internationally broadcast, shown in the US Congress, the United Nations and other countries’ legislative bodies and used by local activists around the world. You can view their work here. Specifically, check out: Free Zone, Strategic Trust, Islands on the Edge of Time, Public Exposure.
Please remember, your bite-size contributions on our Donate Page are what help keep us going. You can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA

Resistance is Fertile: CPUC Orders 'Opt-Out' & Richmond Fights SF SM Blitz – Digest 3-11-11

Peevey Orders SM Opt-Out Option…if you pay!
[Click title to view KCRA-TV video]
CPUC Says PG&E Should Allow SmartMeter Opt-Out
Some Customers Worry About Potential Health Effects
SAN FRANCISCO — California regulators will ask Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to set up a process so its customers can opt out of SmartMeters if they have concerns about the devices’ potential health effects.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey says he will ask the utility to develop the proposal over the next two weeks.

Peevey’s announcement came before dozens of people and advocacy groups testified at Thursday’s commission meeting that exposure to radio frequencies and radiation from the wireless electricity and gas meters was harming people’s health.

PG&E maintains that the meters are safe. Other PUC commissioners have said they want to see more research on whether the electronic meter-reading system can impact health.

Peevey said he believes PG&E should allow customers to opt out for a “reasonable cost.”

Click here to take KCRA-TV SURVEY
If you were given the option, would you opt out of getting a Pacific Gas and Electric SmartMeter?
Want to attend the ‘eMeter Leadership Conference?’ ‘They’ don’t want you to. – Please scroll down to end of postings…
From Josh Hart at,
Josh Reports, “SF is crazy right now- as we drove down Geary, there was a wellington truck on nearly every street- we need your help to do outreach and stop this.”
Richmond SmartMeter Resistance

CPUC Says PG&E Should Allow SmartMeter Opt-Out CBS-5 San Francisco

Want to attend the ‘eMeter Leadership Conference?’ ‘They’ don’t want you to. – Please scroll down to end of postings…
Due to Circumstances Beyond Our Control…
EON was unable to videotape the March 10, 2011 meeting as we have past meetings. Checking today for the CPUC’s own video posting of the meeting, here’s what we found at the following Google link:
The page cannot be found
The page you are looking for might have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.

Google cache:
Your search – california public utilities commission+video+3-10-2011 – did not match any documents.

Did they put it up and take it down? Or is this a temporary clitch? Stay tuned…
CPUC Wants PG&E to Set Up SmartMeter Opt-Out
March 10, 2011, 12:39 pm • Posted by Jon Brooks – KQED-TV blog
Update 3:56 p.m. KQED’s Stephanie Martin talked to PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno about the CPUC’s request for a SmartMeter opt-out. [Listen to audio here.]

The upshot: Sounds like PG&E will file an opt-out proposal by the CPUC’s prescribed deadline. But what that proposal will consist of — the company is not yet saying.

Update 1:35 p.m. Statement from PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno:
” We are aware of the CPUC’s order to file an opt-out proposal for customers by March 24. We are committed to working with our regulators to meet this deadline. We have been examining possible alternatives for the past few months in anticipation of such a filing. While this advances our timeline, we are prepared to file by the deadline set by the CPUC.

” We understand that some of our customers have concerns related to radio frequency from SmartMeters. Although the great weight of scientific evidence demonstrates that the RF from SmartMeters is safe, we take our customers’ concerns seriously.

“In light of our customers’ concerns, we are evaluating options we hope will alleviate customer concerns and still enable PG&E to upgrade all of its customers to SmartMeters. Our challenge is how we address our customers’ concerns while ensuring them of the enormous benefits that SmartMeters and the smart grid offer. ”
AT&T wants to dismantle all telephone lines in the entire country, leaving EIs cut off
by Steen Hviid
In a note to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the telecom company AT&T asks the commission to mandate the total dismantling of all telephone landlines in the entire United States.

The note was filed with the FCC on December 21, 2009 as a comment to the National Broadband Plan (GN Dockets 09-51, 09-137 and 09-47). The note stated that 22% of American households have already cut their landline and rely exclusively on cell phones for their telephone service. The number of residential phone lines has fallen from 139 million lines to 75 million (though most of that reduction is the elimination of second lines for fax and dialup internet). Meanwhile, 66% of households subscribe to broadband (fast internet) service and 86% own a cell phone.

AT&T sees the trend of fewer households using regular telephones as continuing, with the local phone companies eventually being unable to afford maintaining their phone system for the remaining subscribers.

The company suggests that the FCC speed up the transition to wireless and internet-based phones by setting a firm date for eliminating all landlines in the entire country. The company believes such a sunset date would free up money for extending fast internet service to rural areas…. [Read more]
Does Fiber Have a Role in the Smart Grid? A Tennessee Utility Thinks So
By Katie Fehrenbacher
Utilities will have to make a major decision this year about what kind of networks to use for the smart grid, and many are looking to technologies like cellular, WiMAX, RF Mesh and broadband over power lines for their build-outs. But one of the more unique smart grid projects we’ve heard about comes courtesy of a fiber-optic network in the little town of Chattanooga in Tennessee. Municipal utility and communications company EPB is in the process of building out a $200 million fiber network for the city’s residents that will offer Internet, phone, video and — in an unusual twist — smart grid services.

Smart grid technology and energy management is a sort of hybrid version of the “quadruple play,” says Jim Ingraham, vice president, Strategic Planning for EPB, referring to a twist on the traditional quadruple play of services for broadband, which normally includes Internet, video, phone and mobile. While the smart grid likely won’t be part of the fiber quadruple play for most utilities, EPB says that by building out a fiber network — with a smart grid stimulus grant — the town will create almost $850 million in value from both communications and smart grid services, including things like jobs and energy savings. [Read more]
FCC Expects ‘Spectrum Deficit’ by 2014
By Brad Reed, NetworkWorld
Growth in wireless data demand will lead to a “spectrum deficit” of 275MHz if no new spectrum is released by 2014, the Federal Communications Commission projected Thursday.

In a new FCC technical paper, titled “Mobile Broadband: The Benefits of Additional Spectrum,” the FCC projects that growth in mobile data services will require around 822MHz of total spectrum, or 275MHz more than the 547MHz of spectrum available today for dual use in voice and data services. The United States will have all of the wireless spectrum it needs to meet mobile data demand until 2013, the FCC projects, as mobile data demand is not expected to cross the 547MHz threshold until then.

National broadband plan: Where does the spectrum come from?

To put this into perspective, the United States today only requires around 225MHz of spectrum to meet all its mobile data needs, or less than one-third of what it will need in just four years. The FCC says that if no new spectrum is freed up for use, carriers will have to meet mobile data demand by building out additional cell-sites, which the report estimates will cost the industry about $120 billion to build over the next four years. And although the advent of 4G technologies such as LTE will more than double overall spectrum efficiency, this alone won’t be enough to meet the enormous coming growth in mobile broadband consumption…. []
From the ‘Who Are These Guys?!’ Department
eMeter Leadership ConferenceMonday, ,
‘eMeter’s Smart Energy Leadership will take place May 9, 2011 in San Francisco at the stunningly beautiful Fairmont Hotel, at the top of Nob Hill. The hotel offers world-class service and views of this great city that many of the eMeter team calls home.
‘eMeter’s User Advisory Board will be holding its Spring in-person meeting on Monday, May 9th.
Only current eMeter customers may attend.[Emphasis added]

‘The User Advisory Board is an opportunity for you to give direct feedback to the eMeter Product Management team to guide the direction of the eMeter EnergyIP Platform and applications.

‘If you would like to participate in the User Advisory Board meeting, please contact Elena Abueva at (650) 227-7770 ext. 13. She’ll be able to connect you with the eMeter User Advisory Board customer members.’
Please remember, your bite-size contributions on our Donate Page are what help keep us going. You can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA

Experts Debunk 'Smart' Meters – Pt.1 – Jeffry Fawcett, Ph.D.

Jeffry Fawcett, PhD talks about the multiple risks of wireless ‘smart’ meters at a recent community forum hosted by North Bay Patriots. Dr. Fawcett is an environmental economist, writer, and health educator. He produces the Your Own Health And Fitness radio show radio show with co-producer and host Layna Berman. He is the principal author of Too Much Medicine, Not Enough Health, written with Layna Berman.

Please remember, your bite-size contributions on our Donate Page are what help keep us going. You can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA

Cindy Sage Responds to EPRI's Critique

“EPRI’s comment letter mischaracterizes information presented in the Sage Report, and then attacks its own mischaracterizations.”

Sage Associates Response to a critique of The Sage Report on RF Exposures from Wireless ‘Smart’ Meters February 14, 2011
[This response is available in PDF download from the Sage Report site. We reproduce it in full here for our readers’ convenience. ]

EPRI (The Electric Power Research Institute) conducts research on issues of interest to the electric power industry, and is largely funded by electric utilities in the United States. It has produced a comment dated February 2011 on the Sage Associates Smart Meter RF Assessment (January 1, 2011). [ Download PDF of EPRI document here. ]

We are gratified that this organization has detailed its opinions about the technical approach and conclusions of our Report. It allows for a fair and open discussion on whether our Report has properly addressed potential FCC violations for uncontrolled public access, conducted the correct technical analysis, and whether the conclusions of the Sage Report are reasonable. EPRI’s comment validates that the Sage Report has done so.

EPRI has presented no evidence of technical errors in the approach or calculations in the Sage Report, so the public and policy makers can rely on our conclusions and recommendations.

EPRI did not present calculations using the FCC OET Bulletin 65 equations that are fundamental to predicting RF levels. Thus, no apples-to-apples comparison can be made from their selective presentation of examples of RF levels. EPRI gave none of the basic information needed to check their figures. They provided no comprehensive assessment using the same FCC OET 65 equations, nor the range of possible duty cycles or reflection factors, nor specifying what power output, gain, effective radiated power (ERP) or other critical factors were used in their selected examples.

The FCC’s OET Bulletin 65 Equations provide the correct way to predict RF power density levels from smart meters, in advance of deployment.

Testing laboratories in the United States have used FCC OET Bulletin 65 equations to meet FCC compliance testing requirements.

The FCC has issued Grants of Authorization based on FCC OET 65 testing, including RF Exposure studies based on FCC OET 65 predictions to validate manufacturer requests for FCC compliance.

Such Grants of Authorization are “the piece of paper” that demonstrate the FCC has certified a particular smart meter to comply with FCC public safety limits, based on test results submitted by certified laboratories. Deviations in the installation or operation of smart meters may result in non-compliance with the limitations on the Grant of Authorization. Such Grants are relied upon by other governmental agencies, such as public utility commissions, who hold the FCC responsible for compliance determinations.

EPRI’s comment letter mischaracterizes information presented in the Sage Report, and then attacks its own mischaracterizations.

For Example

The Sage Report did properly apportion the power density contributions of each antenna to ERP calculations, as is documented on page 32-33 of the Report.

EPRI mischaracterizes the Sage Report by wrongly attributing that “duty cycle need not be taken into account, and that continuous exposure should be assumed.” This is incorrect (page 13, #1). The Sage Report provides comprehensive computer modeling results for duty cycles between 1% and 100%, at ten percent increments (see Tables A-1 through A16; see tables A17-A48). Time-averaging and reflections for 60% and 100% reflections are provided in the report, documented in the Methodology Section and both tables and text analysis are included throughout the Report.

Absent from EPRI’s comment is an acknowledgement of the FCC’s own requirement to use a 100% duty cycle where the public cannot be excluded. This is specifically discussed in the Sage Report on pages 22 -23 and 31-36.

“It is important to note that for general population/uncontrolled exposures it is often not possible to control exposures to the extent that averaging times can be applied. In those situations, it is often necessary to assume continuous exposure.” FCC Bulletin OET 65, p, 10

EPRI’s comment (page 13, #2-4) is incorrect in that the Report did not take into account a reasonable approximation of distance from multiple meters. The contributions of multiple meters were derived by considering the distance and angle of each of the multiple meters from the reference point. Power density calculations in accord with FCC OET 65 were then used for multiple RF source predictions. Multiple meters were weighted according to their increasing distance from the point of occupied space in all calculations.

Having misrepresented key sections of the Sage Report, EPRI then tries to shift the discussion off-track and substitutes other methods of testing of smart meters that are based on either very low power density levels (limited number of measurements with no idea of duty cycle, reflections or other important factors) or nonsensical applications such as SAR, which is a method for testing cell phones and personal wireless devices, which smart meters are not.

EPRI comments at length on its views on reflection factors. The Sage Report includes two reflection factors specified by FCC OET 65 and two additional reflection factors that take into account newer, published scientific studies that show greatly increased RF power density can occur where there is highly reflective surface area. The Hondou studies (Hondou, 2002 and Hondou, 2006) support using higher reflection factors, as discussed in the Report. These studies find up to 1000 times or 2000 times the RF levels can occur in certain, highly reflective environments but would not be predicted using only the the more conservative FCC OET 65 equations.

The Sage Report nonetheless did not use reflection figures as high as measured in Hondou, 2002 or Hondou, 2006. The Sage Report uses only part of this predicted increase. We used 1000% (121 times rather than 1000 times) and 2000% (441 times rather than 2000 times) that of the Hondou studies.

EPRI is free to opine about what it considers reasonable, but provides no evidence that some interior environments cannot contain highly reflective environments that will increase interior RF levels. Further, the reader can read and reason. Some members of the public and decision-makers can decide which factors are reasonably applied, and draw conclusions accordingly. At least the Sage Report provides a clear and technically correct basis over the range of possible RF levels from smart meters.

It should be required of the utilities deploying the meters to do likewise (provide comprehensive, systematic RF power density predictions using all relevant factors, in run-out tables for power density versus distance, at various reflection factors and all duty cycles, including 100% in accord with FCC OET 65).

Neither the utilities involved, nor the CPUC, Division of Ratepayer Advocates or EPRI have provided their own studies on RF power density and compliance findings using FCC OET Bulletin 65 and specified equations, and adhering to the same requirements contained in that protocol. If they had done so, the calculations would be very similar or exactly that published in the Sage Report. None of these groups has found technical flaws in the Sage Report – which properly applied the FCC OET Bulletin 65 formulas. The Sage Report found many instances where wireless meters will violate FCC public safety limits in the manner they are installed and operated, and no evidence has been offered that demonstrates its conclusions to be in error.

For every type of smart meter installed with a utility’s service area, this includes but is not limited to the manufacturer, the FCC Id number, the make and model information, a copy of the RF Exposure Report from the testing lab and Grant of Authorization certified by the FCC. It includes the operating frequency for each antenna (or range of frequencies), antenna pattern characteristics for each antenna, the maximum power output, maximum antenna gain, maximum duty cycle mechanically possible considering all signals that may be transmitted through it (this includes the meter itself, piggybacking of signals from nearby meters, power transmitters installed on appliances), which antennas can transmit simultaneously, the dimensions of each antenna within the meter and the actual ‘as-built’ separation of each antenna, and other key factors critical to independent evaluation of RF emissions and exposure levels.

EPRI points out that in 2005, the IEEE (the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc) adopted new measures to relax existing public safety limits, including those for RF exposures to the eyes and testes. The IEEE also adopted a new 10-gram volume of tissue, replacing a one-gram volume of tissue to allow dissipation of thermal energy (SAR). IEEE’s recommendation was to increase the tissue volume to 10 grams (a five-fold increase in allowable energy). It is notable that the FCC did not agree, and did not adopt these IEEE recommendations.

The public is not well served, nor do policy-makers have sufficient information on impacts and adverse consequences of an enormously costly new wireless technology without full disclosure of RF emissions and resulting exposures to families in their own homes, schools, public buildings, businesses, hospitals, libraries, shopping, entertainment and transportation.

The issue of health effects as presented by EPRI simply reflects their continuing view that there are divergent views. We agree with this, but underscore that industry and its close representatives and partners generally say they will only consider ‘clear and consistent evidence to document a causal role of RF exposures in connection with human cancer or other disease endpoints’. This is to be expected from industry.

But, policy makers must not just look after the interests of industry, but take good public health planning principles into account. When there is reasonable evidence for risks from new technologies, it is not in the public interest, nor the economic interests of the State to wait endlessly for all parties to agree there is “causal evidence or proof” position in order to take reasonable actions to protect public health. This is particularly true when considering the wisdom of widespread, involuntary public exposures to new technologies for which there is substantial evidence (but not yet proof) of possible health harm to millions of people. It could cost billions to fix in later years, result in economic harm to the State and its residents, and cause even deeper dissatisfaction with the State’s regulatory agency performance.

No positive assertion of safety can be made by the parties involved in this issue without better, independent information. Currently, the data made available by the utilities that are installing smart meters is non-existent, piecemeal and without sufficient basis to verify. In addition, there are different types of meters being deployed, so a full accounting of each one should be public information.
End of Sage Associates’ Response

Please remember, your bite-size contributions on our Donate Page are what help keep us going. You can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA