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