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 Jax82:
I tell you what, the news today is extremely depressing. Just going to cnn or fox news and just reading the headlines, whether its the earthquake videos, nuclear fallout or middle east conflict, or stock markets tanking there is just nothing positive going on out there, or at least not reported. Can someone post some good news?

You have food, clean drinking water, a bed to sleep in. You can go about your activities as usual. Your neighborhood hasn't been wiped out. You haven't lost anyone you love or know in a sudden, tragic event.
This is great news, isn't it? I could go on, but think you can come up with the rest.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11345
710. Jax82
I tell you what, the news today is extremely depressing. Just going to cnn or fox news and just reading the headlines, whether its the earthquake videos, nuclear fallout or middle east conflict, or stock markets tanking there is just nothing positive going on out there, or at least not reported. Can someone post some good news?
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Deleted again for reposting cuz the WU program wouldn't allow editing here
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707. srada
Quoting Neapolitan:

Definitely...but now even some of them will be forced to leave; see comment #698.


there were over 1400 workers there and ABC said this morning that 50 choose to stay behind sacrificing their lives..
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 774
chicklit- I opened it, it seemed safe, just all dark- either way thank you for removing it, if you felt doubtful about it's safety
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26034
Deleted for reposting cuz the WU program wouldn't allow editing here
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thank you Nea

"all the news
quick as a wink
for those like me
who don't wanna think"

(snork, hack, skroonnk)
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26034
That is strange. Now it's gone!
I opened and reposted a link by TXKeef and think it may have held a virus.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11345
Quoting srada:
Good Morning,

Just watched ABC coverage of the disaster on Japan..they did a story on the 50 workers who have stayed behind to try to prevent a nuclear catastrophe..the unsung heros..

Definitely...but now even some of them will be forced to leave; see comment #698.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
701. srada
Good Morning,

Just watched ABC coverage of the disaster on Japan..they did a story on the 50 workers who have stayed behind to try to prevent a nuclear catastrophe..the unsung heros..
Member Since: August 17, 2006 Posts: 1 Comments: 774
The following is the known status as of Tuesday evening for each of the six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the four reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant, both in Fukushima Prefecture, crippled by Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

Fukushima No. 1

-- Reactor No. 1 - Cooling failure, partial melting of core, vapor vented, hydrogen explosion, seawater pumped in.

-- Reactor No. 2 - Cooling failure, seawater pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, damage to containment system, potential meltdown feared.

-- Reactor No. 3 - Cooling failure, partial melting of core feared, vapor vented, seawater pumped in, hydrogen explosion, high-level radiation measured nearby.

-- Reactor No. 4 - Under maintenance when quake struck, fire caused possibly by hydrogen explosion at pool holding spent fuel rods, pool water levels feared receding.

-- Reactor No. 5 - Under maintenance when quake struck.

-- Reactor No. 6 - Under maintenance when quake struck.

Fukushima No. 2

-- Reactor No. 1 - Cooling failure, then cold shutdown.

-- Reactor No. 2 - Cooling failure, then cold shutdown.

-- Reactor No. 3 - Cold shutdown.

-- Reactor No. 4 - Cooling failure, then cold shutdown.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
Fukushima Number 4 Reactor on Fire; Radiation Levels Now Dangerous
Posted by Goldy on Mon, Mar 14, 2011 at 8:03 PM
Kyodo News and NHK World are both reporting that Fukushima reactor number 4 is on fire. But ignore the category tag, and like Golob said, don't panic; there's no chance of a core meltdown in this reactor, because it was shut down and had no fuel at the time of the earthquake and tsunami.

So how'd it catch on fire? Well, the speculation is that spent fuel stored within the reactor container may have lost coolant, causing a hydrogen explosion, so you know what...? Maybe you should panic a little after all.

No, strike that, as Golob and others have pointed out, there's no chance of this being a Chernobyl-type disaster due to the design of the reactor, so it's not like we should be getting a radioactive cloud heading toward Seattle. Then again, if you're anywhere within 30 kilometers of Fukushima, panic, because the Japanese government is now reporting radiation being detected there at "dangerous levels" of 400 mili sievert and rising.

I see they continue the back and forth reporting of the incident.
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Quoting Chicklit:


Good Morning,
The image is not posted when I click on this link.


maybe, it is nighttime over there? I not awake enough to be coherent. I see nothing also, Chicklit.

New updates? all over the place.
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26034


DO NOT OPEN THE LINK posted by TXKeef CITED ABOVE.
I think it contains a virus.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11345
I see that the plant in now at LEVEl 6 Nuclear Emergency, raised from a 4. Also just logged on what is this about reactor #4 burning, or did I just misunderstand what I was reading?
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Tokyo (CNN) -- U.S. Navy personnel are taking precautionary measures after instruments aboard an aircraft carrier docked in Japan detected low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the Navy said Tuesday.

The USS George Washington was docked for maintenance in Yokosuka, about 175 miles (280 kilometers) from the plant in Okuma, when instruments detected the radiation at 7 a.m. Tuesday (6 p.m. ET Monday), the Navy said in a statement.

Personnel will limit outdoor activities and secure external ventilation systems there and at a nearby air facility in Atsugi.

"There is no appreciable health risk, and we are being very conservative in our recommendations," U.S. Naval Forces Japan Commander Rear Adm. Richard Wren said.

In a recorded video message, Wren said the additional radiation exposure over the past 12 hours had been less than one month's exposure to naturally occurring background radiation.

(From CNN website)
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Checking in - appreciate ALL the excellent information & explanations folks!!! - somehow I digest it all a bit better here then listening to the TV. Best day possible to all.
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On the aftershock animation... they had something similar for the Christchurch earthquake, but not as sophisticated. Certainly does suggest to me that the crust has not settled yet. Seems like there's a pretty rhythmic vibration going on.

Still holding out hope for some better news about the reactor situation as the day progresses...

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see pictures of those nuck technicians going into toxic area they have the look of fear in the photos. maybe martyrs
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Another 6.0 aftershock off of Sendai:

Region: OFF EAST COAST OF HONSHU, JAPAN
Geographic coordinates: 37.348N, 142.406E
Magnitude: 6.0 M
Depth: 15 km
Universal Time (UTC): 15 Mar 2011 09:49:54
Time near the Epicenter: 15 Mar 2011 18:49:54
Local standard time in your area: 15 Mar 2011 04:49:54

Location with respect to nearby cities:
137 km (85 miles) ENE (76 degrees) of Iwaki, Honshu, Japan
167 km (104 miles) SE (126 degrees) of Sendai, Honshu, Japan
176 km (110 miles) ESE (103 degrees) of Fukushima, Honshu, Japan
302 km (188 miles) NE (51 degrees) of TOKYO, Japan
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
Quoting Neapolitan:

Oh, if only it would work that way. The Wall Street Journal yesterday ran an article that stated:

"Our view is that [nuclear power] should compete with other sources on a market basis, without subsidies or government loan guarantees. Every energy source has risks and economic externalities, whether they are noise and bird kills (wind), huge land requirements (solar), rig explosions and tanker spills (oil), or mining accidents (coal).

"But more than other energy sources, nuclear plants have had their costs increased by artificial political obstacles and delay."

So there you have it: the cancers and cellular mutations and other long-term biological hazards of nuclear radiation are no different than wind farms killing birds, or solar plants using up precious land. :-\

Just as the Deepwater Horizon debacle illogically brought an onslaught of calls for less regulation of offshore drilling, I was certain there'd be an equal outcry from industry proponents of nuclear. And now we have it...


In my previous career I was a civil engineer. we did a lot of work in third world countries. It was always a battle to enforce the safety standards that our insurance companies required. But in every case, after a few months of struggle, everyone used them. Further, they habits became standard on other sites as well.

Of course, we never were small fry and had to work with local bureacrats rather than buy their bosses. But even when I went to work with a very large multinational, safety was considered part of our competitive advantage for direct costs (lower insurance rates) but also for moral and professionalism of us in the rank and file.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Developing TS in the Southern Atlantic..

Yes, I would say we'll see a TD later today...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
Name it, either the one in the South Atlantic or the one in the Pacifc, we haven't had a storm in so long
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Quoting greentortuloni:
The only silver lining is that maybe the people on the bottom of the anti-regulation will see how much this costs in human lives as well as in monetary terms and finally understand that regulation increases productivity.

Oh, if only it would work that way. The Wall Street Journal yesterday ran an article that stated:

"Our view is that [nuclear power] should compete with other sources on a market basis, without subsidies or government loan guarantees. Every energy source has risks and economic externalities, whether they are noise and bird kills (wind), huge land requirements (solar), rig explosions and tanker spills (oil), or mining accidents (coal).

"But more than other energy sources, nuclear plants have had their costs increased by artificial political obstacles and delay."


So there you have it: the cancers and cellular mutations and other long-term biological hazards of nuclear radiation are no different than wind farms killing birds, or solar plants using up precious land. :-\

Just as the Deepwater Horizon debacle illogically brought an onslaught of calls for less regulation of offshore drilling, I was certain there'd be an equal outcry from industry proponents of nuclear. And now we have it...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
Developing TS in the Southern Atlantic..
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Quoting Neapolitan:
URGENT: Fukushima's spent nuke fuel pool may be boiling, reducing water level

Water in a pool storing spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor that caught fire Tuesday morning at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may be boiling, causing the water level to drop, an official of Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The reactor was not in service when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake jolted Fukushima Prefecture and other areas in northeastern Japan on Friday, the official in charge of the facility said.


And here I was hoping to wake up to better newsd...


4am in Fla? You wake up early. But yeah, when I woke up CNN had a 'breaking news' headline that said the radioactivity levels went down. It was really nice. Then it disapeared and now it's all bad news.

This sucks. The only silver lining is that maybe the people on the bottom of the anti-regulation pyramid will see how much this costs in human lives as well as in monetary terms and finally understand that regulation increases productivity.
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Estimates are now that property damage will exceed $160 billion, substantially higher than that for Katrina ($123 billion).

Incredible...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
Quoting WatchingThisOne:
Animation of Japan aftershocks on msnbc.msn.com ... it's nicely done


it is nicely done. Thanks.
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Another discouraging read from the NY Times ... this time about the

exposed spent fuel pools

a tidbit:

"“I’m still hopeful that they can contain all this,” Thomas B. Cochran, a senior scientist in the nuclear program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a private group in Washington, said in an interview. “You’ve got time to put fire hoses up there and get it filled if it’s not leaking,” he said of the pool."

Pray for the 50 brave workers who remain at the plant trying to get this monster under control (800 have been evac'd).

WTO
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URGENT: Fukushima's spent nuke fuel pool may be boiling, reducing water level

Water in a pool storing spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor that caught fire Tuesday morning at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may be boiling, causing the water level to drop, an official of Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

The reactor was not in service when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake jolted Fukushima Prefecture and other areas in northeastern Japan on Friday, the official in charge of the facility said.


And here I was hoping to wake up to better newsd...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13548
Quoting flibinite:
Japan has told the IAEA it has extinguished a fire at the spent fuel storage pond of a reactor in Fukushima, Reuters says.

Thank god for small favors.

Jo


Hope it stays out.

Night is falling over northern Japan, and the winds are forecast to start shifting inland right about now. They seem to be running 8 to 10 mph in the area. Winds in Tokyo now out of the ENE.
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Japan has told the IAEA it has extinguished a fire at the spent fuel storage pond of a reactor in Fukushima, Reuters says.

Thank god for small favors.

Jo
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Kari Kiefer's forecast from the Tokyo page on WU.

Weather Underground Forecast for Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

The low pressure system affecting Hokkaido and the southern Kuril islands will lift northeastward Tuesday, allowing for a brief window of dry weather for Hokkaido. As this system exits, another complex low pressure system will take shape over Honshu and the nearby western Pacific Ocean during the afternoon. As this system gathers, wrap around will pull moisture across Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. This will lead to increased cloud cover and light scattered showers. Scattered showers will spread inland through the evening and will likely dampen the rescue and cleanup effort. Temperatures across the isles will be cooler Tuesday. Tokyo will reach a daytime high of 53(F)/12(C), while Okinawa reaches a high of 68(F)/20(C). This cooling trend will continue through the mid-week.
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Quoting flibinite:
They're telling everyone within a 100 kms of the plant not to go outside in the rain now. God...

Jo


Black rain. What next? It's becoming a Kurosawa film, except it's actually happening.
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They're telling everyone within a 100 kms of the plant not to go outside in the rain now. God...

Jo
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Quoting WatchingThisOne:
the exclusion zone now encompasses approximately 1100 square miles (60km diameter).


More accurately, the "stay inside" zone. There is also a no-fly zone extending 20km out from the plant.
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Quoting MrMixon:
Yes, winds will be mostly inland for the next 20ish hours.



From the east at 10 mph in Tokyo at the moment. Rain is in the forecast for the coming days.

Edit: from Stratfor.com

"The situation at the nuclear facility is uncertain, but clearly deteriorating. Currently, the radiation levels do not appear immediately life-threatening outside the 20km evacuation zone. But if there is a steady northerly wind, the potential for larger-scale evacuations of more populated areas may become a reality. This would present major challenges to the Japanese government. Further, the potential for panic-induced individual evacuations could trigger even greater problems for the government to manage."


from metro.tokyo.jp:

Population of Tokyo
Population Summary

As of October 1, 2009, the population of Tokyo is estimated to be 12.989 million, or about 10% of Japan's total population, and it has the largest population among all the 47 prefectures.

At 2,188 square kilometers, the area of Tokyo is 0.6% of the total area of Japan. With a population density of 5,937 persons per square kilometer, Tokyo is the most densely populated prefecture in Japan.
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669. wial
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


You have to remember though they have never had a 8.9 earthquake ... they did not expect to get one that strong.


Even though they happen and have happened more than once in recent years.

Real good.
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Yes, winds will be mostly inland for the next 20ish hours.

Quoting JFLORIDA:
664 Look at the direction that "steam" is blowing.
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
the exclusion zone now encompasses approximately 1100 square miles (60km diameter).
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Yes, I was noticing that, what a terrible development.
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Latest image of Fukushima atomic power plant
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Quoting TxKeef:
There is a fire at a spent fuel pond of a reactor and radioactivity has been released into the atmosphere, says the IAEA according to AFP news agency.
Link

Regarding the danger of spent fuel ponds, this gives an idea: blogs.forbes.com --- "The pool cooling water must be continuously circulated. Without circulation, the still thermally hot irradiated nuclear fuel in the storage pools will begin to boil off the cooling water. Within a day or two, the pool’s water could completely boil away. Without cooling water, the irradiated nuclear fuel could spontaneously combust in an exothermic reaction. Since the storage pools are not located within containment, a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment could occur. Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances. Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago."

Link


It is getting worse with each new report that rolls in.
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A good summary of today's (Tuesday's) events in Japan, from the live blog at:

ABC.net.au

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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.