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What Is the Threat to the U.S. of Radiation Exposure from Japan?

Following are some key news stories about the Fukushima Nuclear disaster following Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. My purpose is not to fearmonger, but to inform, as a necessary step in your own efforts to safeguard your health.

7 tons/hour of radioactive water discharging
into the ocean
Water with high amounts of radioactive iodine has been spewing directly
into the Pacific Ocean from a large crack discovered Saturday in a
six-foot-deep pit at the coastal plant north of Tokyo.   …read more

The leak was subsequently stopped
Japan stops leaks from nuclear plant
Engineers have stopped
highly radioactive water leaking into the sea from a crippled Japanese
nuclear power plant, the facility’s operator said on Wednesday, a
breakthrough in the battle to contain the worst nuclear crisis since
Chernobyl.  …read more

But the entire situation continues to be dire —
Japan to Release Radioactive Water into Pacific Ocean in Effort to Cool Reactors
Workers at the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant are using a dye substance in an effort to trace the source of a leak spreading radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean and hampering efforts to cool the reactors themselves. Officials also deliberately released some 10,000 tons of contaminated water into the ocean to make room for water even more radioactive.
Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency defended the release, saying the amount “is not harmful to people’s health and as it is necessary to avert an even bigger danger, we decided it was inevitable.” …Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has confirmed that bringing the plant under control could take months and involve an ongoing release of radioactivity.

Japan nuclear plant releases radioactive water into sea

The operator of Japan‘s Fukushima nuclear plant has started breaking its own regulations by discharging 11,500 tonnes of contaminated water into the Pacific to make space for more highly radioactive liquid. The release of water that is 100 times the legal limit is an unprecedented breach of operating standards, but it is considered necessary so workers can concentrate on containing more severe leaks. …read more

Meanwhile, radiation has been detected in the U.S. — on the West Coast, but also other states
Radiation Detected in U.S.
Traces of radiation from the crippled nuclear plant in Japan are being detected in states from California to Massachusetts, carried across the Pacific on broad rivers of wind. But state officials say there is no public health risk….Trace amounts of radiation are also being detected in Canada, South Korea, China and Germany, according to wire reports. Prevailing winds routinely waft plumes of dust, coal-smoke, wild-fire soot, industrial grit and other microscopic particles from Asia to North America, several atmospheric scientists said.  …read more

How Weather Could Link Japan Radiation to U.S.
Japan lies in the mid latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, as does the
United States. Likewise, its weather is dominated by prevailing westerly
winds, but with significant variation near the earth surface. …read more

More U.S. states find traces of radiation from Japan
Colorado and Oregon have joined several other Western states in reporting trace amounts of radioactive particles that have likely drifted about 5,000 miles from a quake and tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant in Japan, officials say. …read more

Low Levels of Radiation Found in US Milk
Very low levels of radiation turned up in a sample of milk from Washington state, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, but federal officials assured consumers not to worry. …read more

Core of Reactor Probably Leaked, U.S. Says
The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that some of the core of a stricken Japanese reactor had probably leaked from its steel pressure vessel into the bottom of the containment structure, implying that the damage was even worse than previously thought. The statement came as the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, started to inject nitrogen into the reactor containment vessel of unit No. 1 to prevent a possible explosion.    …read more
Japan No 2 core melted through reactor vessel
“I have been informed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the core of Unit Two has gotten so hot that part of it has probably melted through the reactor pressure vessel,” said Markey, a prominent nuclear critic in the House of Representatives. … link


Everyone in any position of authority wants to convince you that there is no threat, no problem, nothing to worry about with any of this radiation, and certainly none expected. I am more comfortable believing that they are or will be lying to us about the threat because that’s what we’ve had in the past (see Three Mile Island). After all, who needs a panicked public? In any case, except for the reassurances in the cited articles, I won’t be feeding you that line. Rather, here are a few resources that provide additional information, more realistic and less pollyanna-ish:


Here’s an overview of the health effects from general but more significant exposure than we are likely to experience here in the U.S. —
Health Effects of RadiationEnvironmental Protection Agency

A good article on filtration systems, should we get enough radiation for
How To Remove Radioactive Iodine-131 From Drinking Water

and another on supplemental iodine:
Preparing for Nuclear Fallout

Physicians for Social Responsibility Deeply Concerned About Reports of Increased Radioactivity in Food Supply
PSR also expressed alarm over the level of misinformation circulating in press reports about the degree to which radiation exposure can be considered “safe.” …According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer. …read more


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