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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A good summary of today's (Tuesday's) events in Japan, from the live blog at:

ABC.net.au

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I was just on the BBC site where they just posted this...

"0709: 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.

I read that, then went back to page here I was reading (the BBC link was the post I had been looking at), and this was *the very next* post I read, from 18 hours ago.

Quoting sunlinepr:
A disturbing detail recently posted is that in these Mark I reactors, the spent fuel pool is inside the reactor building. If there's substantial contamination from reactor venting (or a leak in the reactor vessel), it therefore becomes impossible to be there to keep cooling the pools with firehoses or other improvised means. This could threaten a melt or burn of the spent fuel if it dried out -- and the spent fuel contains far more radioactivity than the reactor core..

1820: The French ASN nuclear safety authority says the incident at the Fukushima plant could be classed as level 5 or 6 on the international scale of 1 to 7. It is currently rated at level 4.


Scary kismet, and apparently a great "call" or concern by sunlinepr...

Jo :(
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This does not sound good at all...
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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
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Asian markets a sea of red, with Japan's Nikkei off 10.6% on top of yesterday's 6.2% drop. Hong Kong and Taiwan are off over 3%.

Dow futures are off nearly 2%. Further deterioration is a definite possibility, particularly if European investors head for the door.

The US dollar is up, as are Treasuries, as investors seek shelter in US Government guaranteed securities. Commodities are off, reflecting lowered expectations for global growth and an unwinding of speculative long positions.

This may turn out to be a tipping point for equities. Expect some volatility this week. Friday is witching day for futures.

I simply cannot believe that what is apparently happening is actually happening. My mind has not accepted it yet. The strategy that seems to be left at this point is hope, and I pray that isn't in for too much of a dashing. How unimaginably, inconceivably tragic. May God look kindly on our folly.

WTO
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655. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Disturbance Advisory #5
PERTURBATION TROPICALE 07-20102011
10:00 AM RET March 15 2011
==========================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Disturbance 7 (1002 hPa) located at 13.0S 84.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 40 knots. The disturbance is reported as moving southwest at 10 knots.

Near Gale Force Winds
======================
50 NM from the center

Dvorak Intensity: T2.0/2.0/S0.0/24 HRS

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.9S 82.9E - 25 knots (Perturbation Tropicale)
24 HRS: 14.1S 81.3E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
48 HRS: 14.9S 76.7E - 35 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)
72 HRS: 15.4S 73.1E - 50 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)

Additional Information
=====================

Recent METEOSAT7 pictures shows a partially exposed low level vortex centered southeast from the main convective activity. ASCAT 0412z swath confirms that maximum winds should locally reach near gale force winds but also shows that low level circulation remains elongated. The easterly vertical wind shear is not expected to significantly weaken within the next 24 hours.

It should then progressively decrease allowing the system to deepen significantly. Available numerical weather prediction models remains in a rather good agreement for a west southwestward track within the next days.

The next tropical cyclone advisory from Mauritius Meteorological Service will be issued at 12:30 PM UTC..
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45528
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Quoting Skyepony:
Tropics are waking up.. a copy & paste from my updated blog. Nite ya'll.


4.39pm NHK has reported the official death toll as 2476, with 17,000 missing.

Good nite....

Sleepy time for me also...
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651. Skyepony (Mod)
Tropics are waking up.. a copy & paste from my updated blog.

Navy link isn't working for me..

Doesn't look like the front will bring much to ECFL. Nice ring aroun the moon tonight makes me want to hope.

Nite ya'll.

Atlantic
90Q


Indian Ocean
92B


Southern Hemisphere

98S


Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 38106
How much radiation is dangerous?
Tuesday, March 15 05:05 am

(Reuters) - Japan asked local governments to make more frequent radiation checks after explosions at two nuclear reactors, with reports of radiation levels nine times normal briefly detected in Kanagawa near Tokyo. Below are some facts about the health dangers posed by higher radiation levels.

* Chief cabinet minister Yukio Edano said radiation levels near the stricken plant on the northeast coast reached as high as 400 millisieverts (mSv) an hour, thousands of times higher than readings before the blast. That would be 20 times the current yearly level for some nuclear-industry employees and uranium miners.

* Exposure to 350 mSv was the criterion for relocating people after the Chernobyl accident, according to the World Nuclear Association.

* People are exposed to natural radiation of about 2 mSv a year.

* Airline crew flying the New York-Tokyo polar route are exposed to 9 mSv a year.

* Exposure to 100 mSv a year is the lowest level at which any increase in cancer is clearly evident. A cumulative 1,000 mSv would probably cause a fatal cancer many years later in five out of every 100 persons exposed to it.

*A single 1,000 mSv dose causes radiation sickness such as nausea but not death. A single does of 5,000 mSv would kill about half of those exposed to it within a month.

*"Very acute radiation, like that which happened in Chernobyl and to the Japanese workers at the nuclear power station, is unlikely for the population," said Lam Ching-wan, a chemical pathologist at the university of Hong Kong.

Source: the World Nuclear Association
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Weather agency warns of huge aftershock

Japan's Meteorological Agency has warned of a major aftershock within the next 3 days.

Agency officials told reporters that aftershocks with an intensity of 5 and over on the Japanese scale of zero to seven have been registered nearly 200 times since Friday, when northeastern Japan was rocked by a record earthquake.

The epicenters of the jolts cover an area 500 kilometers north to south, between the coasts of Iwate and Ibaraki, and 200 kilometers west to east.

Agency expert Takashi Yokota said the likelihood of a tremor measuring five or over within the next 3 days remains at 40 percent.

He said that if the focus is close to the epicenter of the initial earthquake, the aftershock may be from six minus to six plus and may trigger a tsunami.

Monday, March 14, 2011 17:44 0900 (JST)
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647. auburn (Mod)
I am speechless over all this...and helpless...
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645. Skyepony (Mod)
Situation Update No. 29
On 15.03.2011 at 04:34 GMT 2

This event should be changed in classification from INES 4 to INES 5.

Reasons:
- External release of radioactive material (in quantities radiologically equivalent to the order of hundreds to thousands of terabecquerels of iodine-131). Such a release would be likely to result in partial implementation of countermeasures covered by emergency plans to lessen the likelihood of health effects.
- Severe damage to the installation. This may involve severe damage to a large fraction of the core of a power reactor, a major criticality accident or a major fire or explosion releasing large quantities of radioactivity within the installation.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 38106

Quoting MrstormX:
I think people suddenly freaking out about nuclear fission power across the U.S. and World is silly. Fukushima should teach lessons about engineering, and general mechanics which can be deployed on a global skill.

Nuclear Fission is safe when the right measures are taken, and more plants need to be built. When you think of oil and coal, and how they have been destroying the environment for decades; id rather have a clean safe Nuclear Plant any day.

_________________________________________________

Very well stated. We learned enough to build safe reactors from the Cherbynol (sp) and TMI disasters that nothing like that can ever happen again. Just like the oil industry has learned to drill safe deep water wells without having any more blown wells. Yes. Very well stated indeed! We needed the comic relief. What other jokes do you know?

I apologize for the sarcastic remark, but we do not yet know the full extent of this event and you wish to offer to us an, "all clear!"? Based on what?

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643. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Seawall:
How long would it take to get a satellite photo of anything at the reactors?


Link
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 171 Comments: 38106
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its a safe bet we are done with anymore of anyone showing anything this will be all verbal till whomever is reporting the progress can not report it anymore trust me you have to stay a minimum of 10 miles away and even then may not be wise in the end may have to pull back 50 miles its up to the wind


So it seems We'll have to wait for a Satellite photo of the area....
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How long would it take to get a satellite photo of anything at the reactors?
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You know, hindsight is always 20-20, but considering that plate tectonics wasn't accepted by most geologists as a FACT until the early 1960's when the concept of sea floor spread and continental drift were taken to their logical conclusions and the construction of reactors 1-4 at Fukushima started between 1967 - 1973, perhaps they felt AT THAT TIME that their system redundancies shielded the plant very well. They withstood many, many earthquakes since they were built - until now.

It isn't necessarily a failure of planning as much as it is a failure of imagination, an inability to rationally accept the idea that something of this magnitude could and would happen and then build for it.

The Pacific Northwest could have a great quake of 9.0 as the Juan de Fuca plate is subducting below the North American plate and hasn't moved substantially since 1700, but even that wasn't accepted as a possibility within the scientific community until the mid-1990's. Now, after the Indonesian quake/tsunami of 2004, we have tsunami warning sirens and designated escape routes from the coastal communities to higher ground. The system might give residents a small chance of getting out of the way of a tsunami now. Before 2004, though, if we'd had our "big one" no one would have known what to do.

My point is, we build on our knowledge bit by bit, piece by piece, hopefully making things better as we go along. And it's manifestly unfair to criticize people of 40 years ago for not utilizing knowledge they didn't have to prepare for something they couldn't imagine.

Just my $0.02, FWIW.
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Quoting sunlinepr:
Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think there is a video from blasts 3 and 4. No photographer without proper protection would be willing to be there waiting to capture the event....

At least up to this time, no video has appeared...

Any links available??
its a safe bet we are done with anymore of anyone showing anything this will be all verbal till whomever is reporting the progress can not report it anymore trust me you have to stay a minimum of 10 miles away and even then may not be wise in the end may have to pull back 50 miles its up to the wind
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54264
I've been checking for videos; can't find anything. Just CNN news feed, and not much from the Japan news. So, this means, all four reactors have had fires/explosions? I did read on CNN where all workers except for like 50 have been evacuated. My God, where would they go, and what shape will they be in when they get there? And the ones that are left? I can only imagine in my wildest dreams what those workers are going through. Godspeed to them.
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Quoting JohnTucker:
They will try to keep water on the fuel and in the containment vessels and I hope they are successful. This article illustrates the possibilities of a full meltdown:


Excellent info...
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Maybe I'm wrong but I don't think there is a video from blasts 3 and 4. No photographer without proper protection would be willing to be there exposing to high radiation and waiting to capture the event....

At least up to this time, no video has appeared...

Any links available??
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The sievert (symbol: Sv) is the SI derived unit of dose equivalent. It attempts to quantitatively evaluate the biological effects of radiation as opposed to the physical aspects, which are characterised by the absorbed dose, measured in gray. It is named after Rolf Sievert, a Swedish medical physicist renowned for work on radiation dosage measurement and research into the biological effects of radiation.
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Listening to NHK world, in English.. this doesn't sound good at all. Praying for a good outcome, but it just doesn't seem likely.
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The latest from the IAEA.....for what's its worth....I don't know anymore :/

Link
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54264
Quoting auburn:


Friday's earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan was upgraded to a magnitude 9.0 by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Kyodo News agency reported Sunday.
i believe in the long term it will be determined to have been a 9.1
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54264
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625. auburn (Mod)
Quoting rikster:


Thanks Keeper A moment or two of tranquility was needed in lieu of the worldly problems that seem to be mounting daily.


Keep Rocks!
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Nuclear Disaster 'Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11

The nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima plant following Friday's earthquake and tsunami has led to anxious questions in Germany about the safety of its own nuclear reactors and is putting the government under intense pressure to rethink its decision to extend plant lifetimes by an average of 12 years.

German media commentators across the political spectrum are saying the accident in a highly developed nation such as Japan is further evidence that nuclear power isn't safe. One commentator in the conservative Die Welt went as far as to liken the global impact of the Fukushima explosions to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Link
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54264
Quoting auburn:


Friday's earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan was upgraded to a magnitude 9.0 by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Kyodo News agency reported Sunday.


thats right I keep forgetting
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621. auburn (Mod)
Upgrade from CBS News
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Anyway, goodnight all.

Maybe will get some good news in the morning :)
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


Thanks Keeper A moment or two of tranquility was needed in lieu of the worldly problems that seem to be mounting daily.
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618. auburn (Mod)
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


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


Friday's earthquake off the eastern coast of Japan was upgraded to a magnitude 9.0 by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the Kyodo News agency reported Sunday.
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Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


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


Well you aren't talking about flooding here, you are talking about deformed children and people that will suffer pain that was only supposed to come from hell. I think I would rather drown then suffer the results of nuclear radiation.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54264
Quoting MrMixon:
I'm still relatively new at interpreting these model forecast maps, but it looks like the GFS is predicting predominantly onshore winds in the Fukushima vicinity for at least 24 hours before winds swing around to blow offshore again.
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Quoting doorman79:


Think.... Whats the first thing that comes after an earthquake! I know, a tsunami! Do I get a cookie! And to think, I never built a nuclear power plant. WOW!


You have to remember though they have never had a 8.9 earthquake ... they did not expect to get one that strong.
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Excerpt from LA Times article published 1 hr. ago:

In a nationally televised speech, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the radiation level spreading from the plant "seems very high, and there is still a risk of more radiation coming out."

Kan said 400 millisieverts of radiation were detected at the plant at about 10:30. That is 20 times the amount a radiation worker may be exposed to annually.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, "Now we are talking about levels that can damage human health. These are readings taken near the area where we believe the releases are happening. Far away, the levels should be lower."

To further complicate the situation, the prevailing winds have shifted and are no longer blowing offshore, but are now wafting the radioactivity in a southerly direction toward Tokyo. The French Embassy said the plume should reach that city in about 10 hours, but unless the radiation release increases substantially, experts believe it will be sufficiently diluted by then to not present a problem.

thomas.maugh@latimes.com

Times staff writer Ralph Vartabedian and Times news services contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

LinktoLATimesStory
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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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