Radiation from Japan not likely to harm North America

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:53 PM GMT on March 14, 2011

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Radiation from Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been detected 100 miles to the northeast, over the Pacific Ocean, by the U.S. military. Westerly to southwesterly winds have predominated over Japan the past few days, carrying most of the radiation eastwards out to sea. The latest forecast for Sendai, Japan, located about 40 miles north of the Fukushima nuclear plant, calls for winds with a westerly component to dominate for the remainder of the week, with the exception of a 6-hour period on Tuesday. Thus, any radiation released by the nuclear plant will primarily affect Japan or blow out to sea. A good tool to predict the radiation cloud's path is NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model. The model uses the GFS model's winds to track the movement of a hypothetical release of a substance into the atmosphere. One can specify the altitude of the release as well as the location, and follow the trajectory for up to two weeks. However, given the highly chaotic nature of the atmosphere's winds, trajectories beyond about 3 days have huge uncertainties.One can get only a general idea of where a plume is headed beyond 3 days. I've been performing a number of runs of HYSPLIT over past few days, and so far great majority of these runs have taken plumes of radioactivity emitted from Japan's east coast eastwards over the Pacific, with the plumes staying over water for at least 5 days. Some of the plumes move over eastern Siberia, Alaska, Canada, the U.S., and Mexico in 5 - 7 days. Such a long time spent over water will mean that the vast majority of the radioactive particles will settle out of the atmosphere or get caught up in precipitation and rained out. It is highly unlikely that any radiation capable of causing harm to people will be left in atmosphere after seven days and 2000+ miles of travel distance. Even the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which had a far more serious release of radioactivity, was unable to spread significant contamination more than about 1000 miles.


Figure 1. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Saturday, March 12, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 2. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Sunday, March 13, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.


Figure 3. Forecast 7-day movement of a plume of radioactive plume of air emitted at 12 UTC Monday, March 14, 2011 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radioactivity emitted at 2 levels is tracked: 100 meters (red) and 300 meters (blue). Images created using NOAA's HYSPLIT trajectory model.

I'll have an update Tuesday morning.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting calder:
Link



Really depressing... impacting scenes...
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160. srada
Quoting calder:
Link


Is it me or did I see people in the window of the red house at the end of the video that was floating??
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 774
The people on the ground working to contain the reactors are heroes.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11410
Quoting weatherboy1992:



No it wouldn't. Dry ice (carbon dioxide) sublimates directly from solid to gas. That's why it's called DRY ice.


My bad, guess it's a meltdown coming then
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Link

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Japan's coastline may have shifted by as much as 4m (13ft) to the east following Friday's 8.9 Magnitude earthquake, according to experts.

Data from the country's Geonet network of around 1,200 GPS monitoring stations suggest a large displacement following the massive quake.

Dr Roger Musson from the British Geological Survey (BGS) told BBC News the movement observed following the quake was "in line with what you get when you have an earthquake this big".

The quake probably shifted Earth on its axis by about 6.5 inches (16.5cm) and caused the planet to rotate somewhat faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 millionths of a second.


How the Quake has moved Japan
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Quoting Neapolitan:
According to Japan's Kyodo News, the official death toll stands at 1,886, with 2,369 missing. However, local governments say an additional 30,000 people in total haven't yet been accounted for--including, for example, 8,000 in the two of Otsuchi alone--while an estimated 1,000 tourists (out of 4,900 in the area at the time of the quake) are also missing. Obviously not all of those unaccounted for will have died; many are likely in situations where they've simply been lost in the chaos. But it does give a fair picture of where things may be headed.
Good afternoon all. You are correct Neapolitan. Just look at the before and after shots of the areas hit by the tsunami. You think they all got warned in time, but I think the Sendai region had 15 minutes to reach higher ground. I look at all the buildings missing in the photo and think, if just one person was in each building, the loss is tremendous. I am saying prayers for the people of Japan.
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I got a 401 "Authorization Required" error on your link, FYI.


Quoting calder:
don't know if this has been posted yet, but it's new footage today. Absolutely mental.

Link
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don't know if this has been posted yet, but it's new footage today. Absolutely mental.

Link
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My son is in Seoul. I'm glad the wind is not blowing in that direction anyway, for everyone's sake.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11410
A helicopter flies over Sendai, Japan, March 13, 2011, to deliver more than 1,500 pounds of food to survivors of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. The citizens of Ebina City, Japan, donated the food. U.S. Navy photo



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According to Japan's Kyodo News, the official death toll stands at 1,886, with 2,369 missing. However, local governments say an additional 30,000 people in total haven't yet been accounted for--including, for example, 8,000 in the two of Otsuchi alone--while an estimated 1,000 tourists (out of 4,900 in the area at the time of the quake) are also missing. Obviously not all of those unaccounted for will have died; many are likely in situations where they've simply been lost in the chaos. But it does give a fair picture of where things may be headed.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743
U.S. Navy Capt. Jim Morgan, middle, commander of Destroyer Squadron 7, coordinates search and rescue efforts with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Capt. Iwasaki, commander of Escort Flotilla 1, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, March 13, 2011. The Ronald Reagan is off the coastline of Japan to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance to the nation as directed in support of Operation Tomodachi. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin B. Gray


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How are those guys being able to eat and drink to keep going inside that nuke facility? how many of them are in there? and how are they able to work without any rest?
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03/14/2011
PORT CLEANUP

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John and Petty Officer 1st Class Shakir Briggs help a Japanese man remove debris from the Misawa fishing port, Japan, March 14, 2011. More than 90 sailors from Naval Air Facility Misawa volunteered in the relief effort, assisting Misawa City employees and members of the community. Dicola is an aerographer's mate and Briggs is an intelligence specialist assigned to the facility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Devon Dow



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UPDATE 6: Reactor vessels remain intact, IAEA statement

Published: Mar 14, 2011



Japan worked to avert a meltdown at a stricken nuclear plant March 14 after a hydrogen explosion at one reactor and exposure of fuel rods at another. The fear at the Fukushima nuclear complex, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was of a major radiation leak, Reuters reported. The complex has already seen explosions at two of its reactors on March 12 and 14, which sent a plume of smoke above the plant.

Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was reported by the news agency as saying the reactor vessels of nuclear power plants affected by the disaster remained intact, and so far, the amount of radiation released was limited. "The Japanese authorities are working as hard as they can, under extremely difficult circumstances, to stabilize the nuclear power plants and ensure safety," Amano was quoted as saying in a statement.

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), said fuel rods at the No. 2 reactor were fully exposed. The rods, normally surrounded by water, were partially exposed earlier after the engine-powered pump pouring in this water ran out of fuel. TEPCO said it was preparing to pump more cooling water on the rods.

There were earlier partial meltdowns of the fuel rods at both the No. 1 and the No. 3 reactors, where the explosions had occurred, and a TEPCO official described the situation in the No. 2 reactor was even worse than in the other units.

Officials said the thick walls around the radioactive cores of the damaged reactors appeared to be intact after the earlier hydrogen blast. But the government warned those still in the 20 km (13 mile) evacuation zone to stay indoors. TEPCO said 11 people had been injured in the blast.

"Everything I've seen says that the containment structure is operating as it's designed to operate. It's keeping the radiation in and it's holding everything in, which is the good news," Murray Jennex, a nuclear expert at San Diego State University was quoted by Reuters as saying. "This is nothing like a Chernobyl ... At Chernobyl (in Ukraine in 1986) you had no containment structure -- when it blew, it blew everything straight out into the atmosphere."

Nuclear fuel accounts for 30 percent of Japan's electricity. Of Japan's 54 reactors, 11 have been shut down by the quake.

Almost 2 million households were without power in the north, the government said. There were about 1.4 million without running water. Tens of thousands of people are missing.

Subscribe to Nuclear Power International magazine.
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Official: Rods likely melting at Japan plant @msnbc.msn.com - article not video

All three reactors at Daiichi in meltdown to greater or lesser extent. No. 2 fuel rods thought to have been fully exposed for 2 1/2 hours.

It does not appear to me that the situation is stabilizing. Not yet anyways.
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Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked By Second Blast, Nuclear Rods Likely Melting


More than 180,000 people have evacuated the area in recent days, and up to 160 may have been exposed to radiation - pouring misery onto those already devastated by the twin disasters.

Japan's meteorological agency reported the prevailing wind in the area of the stricken nuclear plant was heading east - to the Pacific.

Seventeen U.S. military personnel involved in helicopter relief missions were found to have been exposed to low levels of radiation upon returning to the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier about 100 miles (160 kilometers) offshore.

U.S. officials said the exposure level was roughly equal to one month's normal exposure to natural background radiation in the environment, and after scrubbing with soap and water, the 17 were declared contamination-free.
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Quoting srada:
Energy Dept in the White House Briefing say the plants in US are designed to very high standards against quakes and tsunamis..but yet they wont say if they can withstand a 7.0 quake or higher..a lot of flip flopping in this briefing..

NRC won't approve construction of a new plant unless it can withstand a 7.0 quake at 5 miles or less. (effectively on top of the epicenter)
Member Since: August 3, 2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5891
136. srada
Energy Dept in the White House Briefing say the plants in US are designed to very high standards against quakes and tsunamis..but yet they wont say if they can withstand a 7.0 quake or higher..a lot of flip flopping in this briefing..
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 774
Quoting RecordSeason:


That would never work.

Dry Ice and even liquid nitrogen are first of all too hard and expensive to transport in the quantities you'd need, and secondly, in spite of being so cold, they actually have less specific heat capacity than water, so over the long term they wouldn't cool as much as just pumping plain water.


I don't know how big these reactors are exactly, but they are likely BOILING 20,000 gallons of water per minute, if not a lot more than that.

In order to do this with something expensive like dry ice or liquid nitrogen you'd still need thousands of tons of the stuff per day...


Well the dry ice would melt immediately to a liquid on contact so it wouldn't be hard, and I would a build a plant next to the nuclear plant that doesnt do anything but make dry ice and pump and funnel that crap in the building core site 24 hrs a day.
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we need to laugh or else we will cry....

I'm too wore out to do either...but I think I'll just cry

Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26505
This is from ABC News site:



Operators Won't Rule Out Nuclear Meltdown
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131. srada
White house is briefing the press..said dont expect any radiation in any of the US including Hawaii..thats good news..
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Waiting for



More Japan Nuclear Updates!!!!!!!!!
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keeper- but who will put the bell on the cat?
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26505
Quoting kellnerp:
The trajectory maps would be more helpful if they showed elapsed time in the air and the decay percentages of the various species in the plume.

Fission Products not all of which are or could be present in the plume.

From Chernobyl
Iodine 131 half life 8 days
Iodine 132 lifetime 198 minutes
Caesium 137 half life 30 years (beta emitter)
Caesium 134 3 hours
Strontium 89 half life 50 days
Strontium 90 half life 28 years (beta emitter)


This is another call for development of Molten Salt Reactors. They don't have melt down issues, don't have pressure issues, don't use Uranium and produce far less waste.

MSRE
Molten Salt Reactors


Just checking in. The half life of Pu-139 (no. 3 reactor uses MOX fuel) is 24,100 years.

edit: er, Plutonium-239, not 139 :)
back to bed ...
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no problem, water doggie... we need to laugh or else we will cry....

:)

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Quoting sunlinepr:
The U.S. nuclear regulatory commission says the Japanese government has formally asked the U.S. for help with cooling nuclear reactors

Link
well thats a good thing shut em down cool em off encase im in concrete dump im in the abyss
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amy you already had me laughing so I had to toss in my 2 cents worth, too


but you made me laugh first- thank you :)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26505
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post 120...

hahahahahahahahaha!!!

:)
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Quoting sunlinepr:
The U.S. nuclear regulatory commission says the Japanese government has formally asked the U.S. for help with cooling nuclear reactors

Link


Paula Deen method: coat'm with a stick of butter
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 175 Comments: 26505
I'm no expert about Nuclear, but If I was desperate I'd pack that SOB with dry ice and keep packing it
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68 HurricaneDean07 "...That's just what NE Japan needs right now, a little radiation..."

A day without radiation is like a day without sunshine.
-- The FloridaInternationAtomicEnergyAdvisoryBoard
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
The U.S. nuclear regulatory commission says the Japanese government has formally asked the U.S. for help with cooling nuclear reactors

Link
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Did you know: of the 99 nuclear accidents since 1952, 56 have been in the U.S.? Out of 30 countries with reactors, this one has had more accidents than any other? We produce just over a quarter of the world's total nuclear power, yet we've had more than half the accidents.

In short: we may build by different standards, bu that doesn't mean we're better than any other nation.


1000 Then that means that we are the most experienced....
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Quoting jeffs713:

In short, no.

US plants generally use different reactor designs, are built to different standards, and also not located in areas that can be impacted by both a tsunami and earthquake. In addition, this quake is much stronger than what would be experienced by much of California - many geologists believe the San Andreas (and related faults) is only capable of an 8.0 or so maximum. Quakes over an 8 are generally reserved for subduction zones, like Japan or Alaska.

Did you know: of the 99 nuclear accidents since 1952, 56 have been in the U.S.? Out of 30 countries with reactors, this one has had more accidents than any other? We produce just over a quarter of the world's total nuclear power, yet we've had more than half the accidents.

In short: we may build by different standards, bu that doesn't mean we're better than any other nation when it comes down to nuclear safety.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13743

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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