Tuesday, April 05, 2011

U.S. & Japanese Updates On Fukushima Nuclear Plant Incident

Apr 4: U.S. EPA's update on radiation monitoring as a result of the incident with the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, indicates that several EPA air monitors have detected very low levels of radioactive material in the United States consistent with estimated releases from the damaged nuclear reactors. EPA said it has stepped up monitoring of precipitation, milk, and drinking water in response to the Fukushima events. The detections in air, precipitation, and milk were expected, and the levels detected have been far below levels of public-health concern.

    EPA released its latest RadNet results, which include the first results for drinking water. Drinking water samples from two locations, Boise, Idaho and Richland, Washington, showed trace amounts of Iodine-131 -- about 0.2 picocuries per liter in each case. EPA said an infant would have to drink almost 7,000 liters of this water to receive a radiation dose equivalent to a day's worth of the natural background radiation exposure which the population experiences continuously from natural sources of radioactivity in the environment. Earlier precipitation samples collected by EPA have shown trace amounts of radioactivity, so EPA has expected to find results such as these in some drinking water samples. Similar findings are to be expected in the coming weeks.
    Overall the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that as of April 5, "the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains very serious." Currently, the IAEA monitoring team is working in the Fukushima region. On April 5, measurements were made at 7 locations at distances of 16 to 41 km (10 -25.5 miles), South and South West to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The dose rates ranged from 0.3 to 31 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.01 to 3.2 megabecquerel per square meter. The highest dose rates and beta gamma contaminations were measured at the location closest to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. An posting on the New Scientist website indicates, "Caesium fallout from Fukushima rivals Chernobyl."
    The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported in an article today that, "Japanese authorities said Tuesday they had discovered for the first time fish swimming off the country's Pacific coast carrying high levels of radioactive materials."

    Access a release from EPA with multiple links to various data and monitoring for precipitation, air, and milk (click here). Access the latest information on the radiological situation in Japan, updated day-by-day as information becomes available and verified from the IAEA website (click here). Access the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Actions on Japan's Emergency (click here). Access the New Scientist posting (click here). Access the lengthy WSJ article (click here). Access press release from the operating company Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc. (click here). Access monitoring reports from the Japan Health Ministry (click here). Access extensive information from the Japanese government for students and researchers (click here).
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