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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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
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11406
Quoting Thundercloud01221991:


they where above sea level think... 33 ft tsunami wave


Think.... Whats the first thing that comes after an earthquake on a tiny island! I know, a tsunami! Do I get a cookie! And to think, I never built a nuclear power plant. WOW!
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#0408: However, a Tokyo government officials says the radiation levels in the city are not seen as harmful to human health, the AFP adds.

#0402: Higher than normal radiation levels are detected in Tokyo, the AFP is quoting the city government as saying.
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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.


Correct... and snow starting Wend.
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The only problem with nuclear fuel rods is that they continue to generate heat even when in the "off" position. They continuously need to be cooled, even the spent rods. This is why #4 is up in flames, because each blast was powerful enough to take out the cooling systems of adjacent buildings. Without a constant flow of coolant, heat will continue to build. That is why I said they need to get out asap, there's no more point..
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Thats like saying NOLA is below sea level, and in a Hurricane zone.. shouldn't they have thought of that?


Yes they should have, Sorry Pat!
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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.
Member Since: March 26, 2006 Posts: 44 Comments: 1520
Quoting sunlinepr:
How a Reactor Shuts Down and What Happens in a Meltdown
The operating reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power station automatically shut down during the earthquake.

But after subsequent cooling failures, two of them went into partial meltdown.

Link


As I said earlier, I am skeptical whether they were ever "actually" shut down.

Just because a gauge or sensor says they successfully shut down doesn't mean it actually happened. The gauges and other shutdown mechanisms could have been damaged in the original quake.

Had the control rods actually been inserted, the chain reaction should have stopped and all they should be dealing with was residual heat.

Instead, we continue to see exposed rods which had previously been under water, and then exposed again, and partial melting. If it was just residual heat, the rods temperature would not increase just because of having less water available. An increase in temperature is indicative that the nuclear chain reaction has continued, even though the sensors/gauges claim the reactors have been stopped. Not only is the original heat not being dissipated, but the reactions have never actually stopped in the first place, otherwise, the temperature would not increase just because you had less water available.

If you turn off the eye on a stove, the temperature doesn't go up. Same principle here. If the reaction had ever stopped, the temperature should stay the same or go down, even if the water cooling situation was less than ideal.

To me, I continue to believe the control rods were damaged in the original quake, and have never been inserted properly.
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#
0402: Higher than normal radiation levels are detected in Tokyo, the AFP is quoting the city government as saying.
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I'm listening to the NHK broadcast and still have heard nothing about the fire at #4 being put out, in fact they just reinforced the fact that it is on fire. They need to get everyone out of that area asap, there's nothing they can do now.
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601. flsky
An onsite account from locals.
Link
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Thanks, Dr. Jeff for the reassurances. There is so much speculation from folks who know little to nothing about predicting weather. We continue to pray for those in the control rooms of the nuc plants in Japan and for the technicians trying to make a go of cooling those rods.

As we live near a nuc plant in the states (my hubby works there), I know firsthand how often the news media reports happening at the plant incorrectly. Sometimes they just make up something complete different from any press releases! I can imagine this is multiplied by the high level of coverage and the desire to keep folks in Japan from panicking.

Again, thanks for the voice of reason, Dr. Jeff!

Theresa 8-)
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Speed / Dir15 mph from NE

Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11406
Quoting Patrap:


inception? are we all in a dream?
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How a Reactor Shuts Down and What Happens in a Meltdown
The operating reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power station automatically shut down during the earthquake.

But after subsequent cooling failures, two of them went into partial meltdown.

Link
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The way its going. Probably a good many working at that plant now in good faith to fix this are going to die. Like at Chernobyl. We should be serious and respectful here.

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Quoting Barefootontherocks:
SOMA, Japan — Japan's nuclear safety agency says a fire in a reactor at a crippled nuclear power plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan has been extinguished.

source: AP Link


"Japan's nuclear safety agency says a fire in a reactor at a crippled nuclear power plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan has been extinguished."

I don't think the fire was in the reactor of #4.
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You did not get this from me.

I was never here.

NBC Training USMC


(f) IPE Employment. Commanders and NBC personnel
must consider heat stress created while wearing IPE, especially
during hot weather. An adequate water supply must be made
available at the exercise site and personnel are encouraged to
drink plenty of water prior to, during, and after the exercise.
(g) Wearing of contact lenses while training with CS
agents is prohibited. Individuals who normally wear contact
lenses must remove them and use properly fitted optical inserts.
(h) A safety vehicle equipped with sufficient
communications and medical equipment, and with a
nonparticipating driver and Corpsman familiar with the effects
of CS and heat stress, will be present during the exercise. To
prevent personal contamination, the Corpsman must be equipped to
be able to don his/her mask and gloves when treating and
transporting casualties. The Corpsman must don his/her field
protective mask and IPE prior to rendering assistance to a
casualty in the chamber. The driver must exercise caution to
avoid becoming contaminated during transport of casualty.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
593. JRRP
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11.31am There is an increasing view that we are watching the second-worst nuclear accident in history, after Chernobyl. The UK Telegraph says today the third blast raises the spectre of a nuclear nightmare. An excerpt from that story:

The Fukushima crisis now rates as a more serious accident than the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, and is second only to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, according to the French nuclear safety authority. After insisting for three days that the situation was under control, Japan urgently appealed to US and UN nuclear experts for technical help on preventing white-hot fuel rods melting.

And this just in: the radiation level at Fukushima rose to 8217 micro sievert per hour for a short period this morning. This is more than eight times the 1000 micro sievert level to which people are normally exposed in a year.

As a result, people in the surrounding area will likely suffer radiation sickness, and there have been reports that the people working at the plant to try and solve the problem of the exposed rods have been showing symptoms. The main risk with radiation sickness is infections because the body has trouble fighting off germs, and longer term there is a greatly increased risk of developing various cancers. Many people who get radiation sickness can survive, however.

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/world/magnitude-quake-strik es-japan/story-e6frfkyi-1226019903430#ixzz1GdWnjXB w
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Quoting doorman79:
Another thing, wasn't this whole thing caused by the back up generators being flooded? Why weren't the generators above sea level? Japan is in an earthquake zone, and a small island. Shouldn't they have thought of that?


Thats like saying NOLA is below sea level, and in a Hurricane zone.. shouldn't they have thought of that?
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Ok when you vent a reactor to the open air, even under the best circumstances the containment really doesn't matter. even if there was a complete meltdown and containment failure the important thing would be the radioactive material released to the atmosphere.

Not the hot goo puddle itself.

No one would be close to that. It would be the off gassing and particle release that mattered.
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SOMA, Japan — Japan's nuclear safety agency says a fire in a reactor at a crippled nuclear power plant in tsunami-ravaged northeastern Japan has been extinguished.

source: AP Link
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Quoting doorman79:
Another thing, wasn't this whole thing caused by the back up generators being flooded? Why weren't the generators above sea level? Japan is in an earthquake zone, and a small island. Shouldn't they have thought of that?


they where above sea level think... 33 ft tsunami wave
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Quoting KrippleCreekFerry:
these reactors have 6 feet of containment. Alll radiation will be contained. This is no Chernobyl..

Filsky, I have been filtering you for quie awhile. You're intolerant.

Seems like some is not contained....
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Quoting KrippleCreekFerry:
these reactors have 6 feet of containment. Alll radiation will be contained. This is no Chernobyl..

Filsky, I have been filtering you for quie awhile. You're intolerant.


1 of the reactors has already breached the containment. it would only take a good earthquake again to cause major problems very fast
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Oh this should send some people on here nuts... anyone want to buy some Kelp tablets?

#
0337: A low level radioactive wind could reach Tokyo in 10 hours, Reuters is quoting the French embassy in the Japanese capital as saying.
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Another thing, wasn't this whole thing caused by the back up generators being flooded? Why weren't the generators above sea level? Japan is in an earthquake zone, and a small island. Shouldn't they have thought of that?
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these reactors have 6 feet of containment. Alll radiation will be contained. This is no Chernobyl..

Filsky, I have been filtering you for quie awhile. You're intolerant.
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I wonder. Are the worker's hazmat suits lined with like lead foil or something?

Is this a suicide mission for those 50 people remaining behind at this point?
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Quoting jwh250:
Fire at No.4 reactor apparently put out: Tokyo Electric (12:04)


Well that could be good news...link?
Member Since: August 29, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 87
579. P451
South Atlantic Invest 90Q looks better.

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Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 427 Comments: 129419
Quoting CosmicEvents:
It's not just people around the world losing money. It's people all over the world, even if you don't have a single share of stock. Markets could ripple effect down all across the world. That effects all of us as it trickles down. The losses always trickle down to all, but the gains yield no benefit to all.
.
.
In any case, that's a side issue, a potentially serious side issue, but still just that for now. The main concern right now is obviously human and environmental radiation damage.


Trickle down= get on your knees and beg. G.E. made their money, the power company made theirs, now the people have to suffer. Like I said, what ma nature won't take, man will!
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14-17% of Japanese homes have earthquake insurance according to CNN. Many of these homes will never be re-built. The suffering will last a long time.
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575. P451
It's pretty much hopeless to stop this now.

=============

Japan's chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said night that a meltdown was "highly likely" at three of the plant's nuclear reactors on the country's shattered northeastern coast, the Kyodo news agency reported.





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Fire at No.4 reactor apparently put out: Tokyo Electric (12:04)
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Quoting doorman79:


Don't think for one minute that a stock exchange cares about any lives. Maybe the loss of productivity from them, but not the people. That being said, ain't it funny how someone across the world can lose money cause people elsewhere lost their lives? I would be willing to bet they are trying to find ways to invest in funeral homes.

It's not just people around the world losing money. It's people all over the world, even if you don't have a single share of stock. Markets could ripple effect down all across the world. That effects all of us as it trickles down. The losses always trickle down to all, but the gains yield no benefit to all.
.
.
In any case, that's a side issue, a potentially serious side issue, but still just that for now. The main concern right now is obviously human and environmental radiation damage.
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Hmmm since everyone is brainwashed with the Japanese natrual disaster/reacter melt down I shall return in about a weeks time or.....in 2 months time...
If your going to insult people, do it with correct spelling at the very least.
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The crud has just hit the fan in Fukushima. Full details here.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


The problem is, these reactors have probably overheated passed the ability to be cooled and stabilized. That fire is a result of Nuclear meltdown.



It's just a big friggin mess. #4 being out of commission and all. I'd have to say though, keeping 4 reactors in check, kinda, with the available resources in the area is rather remarkable.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i think ya may want to stick around the main coarse is coming up next


I hope this is not the main coarse your saying.

Japan reactor fire releases radiation

A FIRE is burning at the No.4 nuclear reactor at Japan's stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Prime Minister Naoto Kan confirmed today, warning that dangerously high levels of radiation are leaking from the area.

Delivering a message to the nation, Kan said people within a 20km radius of the plant should evacuate, while those a further 10km away should keep indoors and shut windows.

Authorities said they were doing everything possible to extinguish the fire at the No.4 reactor as the crisis engulfing the nation's nuclear industry following Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami worsens.

The blaze comes after explosions at the No.1 and No.3 reactors at the Fukushima plant, which is about 240km north of Tokyo, over the weekend, and a further blast at the No.2 reactor this morning.

"Radiation has spread from these reactors and the level seems very high," Mr Kan warned, with officials confirming the levels posed a threat to human health.
Mr Kan said people still working at the plant were putting themselves in a very dangerous situation in a bid to stop any more explosions or leaking of radiation.

"I would like to ask the nation - although this is an incident of great concern - I request that you act very calmly," he said.

Earlier, officials confirmed a blast had hit the No.2 reactor at 6.10am local time today.

The explosion was described as "huge" by a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and workers were evacuated from the reactor area, according to the Jiji news agency.
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568. P451
So all four reactors are compromised. It's obvious at least one if not all four are melting down. It won't be long until all attempts to cool them will stop if anything from the unfortunate deaths of those left there to try. Then all four will go into runaway meltdowns and breach all remaining containment. It appears at least #2 has already done so.

Wind for the next 24 hours is NE and gusty sending fallout right back into Japan possibly affecting Tokyo even. Got to hope that those plants hold on at least until the wind shifts back out to sea.

This is absolutely terrible. What else is there to say.



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Quoting washingtonian115:
Hmmm since everyone is brainwashed with the Japanese natrual disaster/reacter melt down I shall return in about a weeks time or.....in 2 months time...
i think ya may want to stick around the main coarse is coming up next
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 176 Comments: 55519
I have been examining the coastline impacted from the EQ in Japan on Google earth and others. You can do the same on Google earth.

It is quite telling with respect to coastline, fluid dynamics and location, location , location. It is similar to a storm surge with a different kind of storm, but different. We shall learn much from this on many fronts. Check it for yourself.

I just hope the 5+ aftershocks stop soon. This has never happened for so long or strong that I can find in any records. Scary stuff for sure. Let's hope there is no next~ !

Sorry no links available with a dynamic interface site, you will have to drill for it/

In a situation as such, anyone would have been helpless! Fortunately, they were as prepared as anyone could have been. Still, we face the consequences of life on the pale blue dot/







Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8188
565. flsky
“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
- Albert Einstein
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564. srada
Quoting RecordSeason:


You uh...realize most of the roads in the effected areas are either covered in debris or faulted in half by several feet... additionally, most of the automobiles in the effected areas have been destroyed anyway.

So there are no roads to travel on, and no automobiles to put people in anyway.


Im sure these people are not limited to only 19 miles of evacuation..the western/eastern and southern parts of Japan did not have the tsunami damage (at least I hope so) so Im sure there are other buses in Japan besides the northern part that are still functioning..the roads may be somewhat of an issue but I dont think it enough of an issue that they cant leave..fuel yes, roads, no..
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Quoting Jedkins01:


The problem is, these reactors have probably overheated passed the ability to be cooled and stabilized. That fire is a result of Nuclear meltdown.


#4 was not under operation when the earthquake occurred; but in terms of the stored rods, the blast/fire is most likely from the meltdown of these. Apparently the level of radiation outside of #3 is half of the level resulting in 50% chance of death.

This page is also useful in determining the danger of different elements Link. As with plutonium, it is much more dangerous if taken internally due to the amount of energy released from decay.
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Of course I'm not on expert on Nuclear physics or anything, just from what I know, the reactor that suffered that large explosion and now a fire raging there is a sign of either complete failure or leading in that direction.


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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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