It's time for a shutdown!

SUBHEAD: The elite fear rejection of atomic energy because it would crash the global economy relying on it for energy.

By Juan Wilson on 31 December 2013 for Island Breath -

Image above: Illustration by Victor Juhasz for Rolling Stone From (

Today I received a comment this morning on an article A Brief Radiaition Spike on Kauai 12/27/13.  That post has been the most widely read on this site in the four years of its existence (over 5,000 reads).

I am a radiation protection professional (Health Physics). From what I read of your article you are anxious over the temporary "spike" readings from your Radex RD1212 at 1-3 microsieverts level.

I share the mistrust of officials in charge of the TEPCO disaster but honestly your readings are nothing to be alarmed at whatsoever. I could explain in detail why and offer a way for you to independently verify your exposure and risk. I don't want to waste my time if you don't want to hear it but if you do I'll shed some light on it. Totally up to you, however I'd hate to see you stress over these levels, honestly
From Speculative Measures

Mt response was as follows.

Aloha Speculative Measures,

I am not very anxious of a singular (or even infrequent) spike in background radiation. I am worried that there will be a point where the Fukushima NPS will have to be abandoned and further Tepco mitigation is halted.

This  could happen if, for example, some fuel pellets blown out of reactor #3 during its nuclear explosion,dell into the spent fuel pond and eventually produce a pyrophoric fire or criticality.

There are many other scenarios might result in abandoning the site to the fates. Another is an earthquake that would knock down what left of building #4.

Abandoning the site would likely result in the eventual uncontrolled dispersal of a continuous stream of transuranic (hot)  particles into the atmosphere.

The spike we saw here on Kauai was likely hot particles from steam vented from the #3 cooling pond on 12/24-12/27. The jetstream (that is more irregular die to global warming) was blowing south to Kauai, in the days leading to the spike.

I conclude that in such conditions we will have hot particles in the air at times here. I don't care what you say, my research on this issue tells me that inhaling even small numbers of hot particles is a death sentence.

Dispersal of transuranic material is likely happening now from underground contact of the corium with tidal ocean water going into the Pacific Ocean.  This material will eventually work its way up the food chain and into us.

Transuranic material will also be washed from the ocean into intertidal areas (the beaches of the Pacific Ocean shorelines). Ultimately this hot material will be carried as dust past the beaches and into the interior or our islands and the mainland.

Fukushima's 311 will certainly be seen as a much worse disaster for America (and the world) than the World Trade Center 911. It will be viewed as the worst human engineering disaster of all time.

For me, it has now passed Global Warming, Peak Oil, and Financial Collapse as the near term most immediate problem humans have to deal with.

Mankind will be lucky if it has the industrial and energy resources necessary to quench this fire and shutdown the 500 off nuclear power plants operating today before each becomes another Fukushina.

As a radiation health professional do you approve of the actions of your colleagues aboard with USS Ronald Reagan who advise the crew that they were in no danger from hot particles hitting the deck?

IB Publisher

There are plenty of reasons to worry about elevated background low level radiation. As is commonly understood for regular "low level" radiation tests for mammograms; the diagnostics are more dangerous to health than the risk of the disease.

With Fukushima we are going to be dealing with ever increased levels widespread dispersal of low level (cesium and iodine) and high level (uranium, plutionium) radio activeelements. The former persist in the environment for centuries and the former for millennia.

More to the point, the failure of Tepco to get control of the continued dispersal of new radioactive elements into the atmosphere and ocean means the dispersal itself may not end for centuries or millennia.

The bottom line is that no radiation health professional has any way of knowing the long term risks to the biosphere from Fukushima (and other nuclear power plant failures). I work on the assumption that they are likely bad to current species of flora and fauna on the planet.

It seems to me that the industrial nations, along with their corporations and military don't want a panic. They fear rejection of atomic energy because it would crash the global economy relying on it for energy. They certainly don't want a collapse of the current electric grid dependent consumer economy.


It's time a real cleanup and a worldwide shutdown!

Note: this is a followup to my response above:

It will be interesting to see what kind of commitment the government of Japan sustains to recover the fuel. I'm thinking they will get most of the fuel using robotics simply due to the economic fallout if they don't, but who knows. You'r right there's certainly not an easy, quick or cheap remedy.

Regarding hot particles, it's not a very precise term. When that term is used in Radiation Protection circles it refers to a specific type of material - an exceedingly small, fragmented fuel particle. Their also know as "fuel fleas" because being so small and so activated they often carry a high static charge that can cause them to jump to alternately charge objects. Now there can be radioactive particles that have elevated activity that indeed could pose health risks, particularly if concentrated, but these are not "hot particles" as the term is used.

I think if you were to find them they would be attached to some sort of debris. On their own they are typically much heavier than water so I would't expect to find them too far from the event site (i.e not >100 mi) but can very piggy back on debris from the site or potentially in sea-life as you alluded to. Honestly I'd be super surprised to see a "hot particle" anywhere near Hawaii but please keep us posted!

Regardless, were you to find a hot particle here are 3 characteristics to look for:

They are hot! - If you're not seeing at least 1000uSV/hr it's probably not a "hot particle". It could be an activation product which is a lesser of the two concern but hot particles are hot. By hot I mean 10,000-100,000 uSV/hr - we find some as high as 500,000 uSV/hr (50R/hr in US units) although most are in the former range. So if you're not seeing at least 1000uSV/hr I wouldn't spend the money getting it analysed.

Discrete high energy - If you were to have a hot particle on the end of a Popsicle stick and put it in front of your meter you would see wild swings in your meters response depending on how you position it. A few centimeters would mean the difference between 1000uSV and 10000uSV.

Beta discrimination - A significant portion of the radiation is in the form of Beta Radiation. You can stop almost all Beta radiation with a credit card. If your meter had a Beta Window (a thin film in front of the detector vs a hard plastic encasement such as yours has) you could perform a "field check" by measuring the bare particle then measuring it again with a credit card in front. If you see the sustained meter reading drop by 1/2 when using the credit card AND an original reading of at least >1000 uSV/hr sustained, then you could have a Hot Particle. If a credit card thickness of plastic doesn't drop the meter response by 1/2 you have something else.

From Speculative Measures

Hey, Speculative Measures,  thanks for your analysis.


  1. Hi Juan,

    Wow, never knew there'd be so much interest in the subject.

    First a disclaimer: My comments represent my personal opinion and in no way are made in a professional capacity. In other words I am speaking on my own bahalf here and I'm not representing past or present employers, only myself.

    "The bottom line is that no radiation health professional has any way of knowing the long term risks to the biosphere from Fukushima (and other nuclear power plant failures)."

    While we do not know everything about Radiation exposure, it is very well studied and we do know A LOT about it. Muck like atomic physics, what we know vastly outweighs what we are not certain of. We can break exposure down into two broad categories: (we could also discuss

    Acute (High) Exposures:
    Acute meaning high dose rates in a short period of time. We know what happens at which exposure levels and can predict with accuracy what will happen to a small population size. We can even employ measures to enable someone to sustain higher exposure levels by having them ingest certain compounds that offset radiological damage mechanisms in the body. You may be away of the Potassium Iodine pills that protect a person's thyroid from a radioactive plume. NASA also pre-treats astronauts with compounds that create a greater concentration of hydrogen radicals in the body which is a useful countermeasure.

    Low Level Exposure:
    Low level radiation is controversial for a number of reasons.

    1) Some folks want a nuclear free world and cite the threat of low level exposure as one reason to eliminate all things nuclear.

    2) Low level effects are difficult to measure.

    3) The body responds counter-intuitively to low level exposure.

    I will touch on #2 & 3 since it's the source of most controversy.

    Low levels effects are difficult to measure
    We know for certainty that the chemical Benzene is a "known carcinogen" and repeated exposure to it will definitely increase cancer rates in a population. We know Benzene is present in Gasoline. A question for everyone reading this board is; How many people did you give cancer to by virtue of driving your car (and exhausting benzene) last week?

    Imagine attempting to build a scientific study to ascertain the above - very difficult.

    Many readers might say the amount of Benzene in fuel exhausted to the atmosphere are way below limits for occupation exposure and they would be correct. There are epidemiological studies that derived these occupational levels. However it is difficult to say with certainty that driving your car did NOT increase the cancer risk to any persons exposed. In short, it is difficult to "prove the negative" or to prove that something did not occur. It is the same with low level radiation studies.

    Whenever I see some headline touting a new and dangerous low level radiation effect I am both curious and skeptical. Scores of times I have traced the study behind the headline and found in nearly every instance the conclusion is a postulation based an effect observed in a cell that is then extrapolated to an effect on the entire body. Alternatively I have seen the biological effects observed in high level acute exposures back calculated to to much lower exposures used as a basis to imply a low level effect.

    The problem is our bodies do not respond holistically the same as a single cell responds, nor do low level exposures affect us the same way as high level exposures.

  2. The body responds counter intuitively to low level exposure
    In population study after population study there has been found to be a *positive* response to low level radiation exposure. In other words, general health (including cancers) has been shown to improve with an increase in radiation exposure. Before you run me off as some "industry shill" or covert agent for "the nuclear-industrial complex" wait a moment. I'm not saying it's all roses but there is a known, observable positive effect from low level exposure that includes decreased cancer rates and a more robust immunological system in recipients. This source summarizes much of what is known on the subject:

    I know it’s considered heresy, but those studies are real and many. Think about it, life has evolved for ~3 billion years on a planet with plenty of naturally occurring background radiation. Much like exposure to sunlight, low level radiation exposures are not observably harmful in populations. In fact there is substantial evidence that shows otherwise. However, like too much sun exposure, too much radiation exposure can cause problems.

    Fukushima has created real damage to the environment and to public health. But it has also created a bow-wave of fear mongering designed to sell newspapers or increase clicks. It saddens me that regular people are made to feel this anxiety just so a media outlet or political group can get attention. I certainly don't intimate that Fukushima is a good thing, but just keep that in mind when you hear headlines a wave a death on its way over from Japan.

  3. The SM guy above is full of baloney. The best and brightest are pulled into a lull of grey matter in the ego trip of turning matter into energy.

    Some low level radiation, like the potassium in our own bodies, is not particularly harmful, and repair mechanism seem to work. But no, the hormesis lie, is a lie. Here is some backup on that.

    And internal radiation, cesium and don't forget the strontium, and of course the transuranic stuff is particular bad as heavy metals that also irradiate.

  4. Stock, you're casting aside 70 years of exhaustive peer reviewed science in favor of dubious blog entries.

    Have you read any of the peer review studies on the subject? Which aspect of any of the studies do you find objectionable?

    Many times people reject the reams of evidence on this topic simply because it runs counter to a preconceived mental construct. Galileo faced similar objections from the clergy when he dared postulate that the Earth was not the center of the Solar System. For some, radiation, particularly radiation associated with man-made activities can only be bad all the time. There are real safety and public health issues surrounding atomic testing, nuclear power and nuclear medicine. The simple fact that our bodies in most cases respond favorably at lower levels of exposure does not eliminate the host of other dangers associated with radioactivity and other nuclear issues. However when you argue against well clear evidence and established science you end up discrediting yourself and ultimately your cause.

    The link to the research: