In this blog I will briefly go over the events of the past couple of days (I did not blog yesterday, my bad). Evidently the spent fuel ponds where above the primary containment. A major mess. #3 may have a containment breach, and # 4 spent fuel pond has had either the water boil away, or fractures have occurred and water has drained. Not a good scenario, the cleanup will take years. There is a fire, and to cool one of the reactors and add water to the spent fuel pond the Japanese have tried dumping water via helicopter, and that has proven relatively futile. They are currently trying high pressure water cannons to get the water to where it needs to be. Unfortunately the best way to cool the reactor and pond must not be accessible, either due to damage or intense radiation, pumping it directly where it is needed. From what I have heard radiation in the vicinity of the pond may measure anywhere between 100 Roentgens per hour and 450 Roentgens Per Hour (600 Roentgen exposure to a man or woman is fatal 0ver 50% of the time).
Worth mentioning, the "Fukushima 50," the 50 men and women who are heroically working in this nightmarish industrial disaster. They have evacuated and went back at least once.
Is this situation serious? Absolutely. Is it as bad as the press makes it sound? Probably not. After all, it is a good sign that none of the 50 have succumbed to illness caused by radiation. These are ordinary humans, not superheroes, however acting heroic in the worst of situations.
A crew from the U.S. DOE arrived in Japan, and last I heard where in Tokyo. Their assessment was that instead of evacuating people in a 19 mile distance from the plant, people should be evacuated that are within 50 miles of the plant. It appears that the DOE is much more conservative about radiation exposure than the Japanese. However, in a densely populated country ravaged by earthquake, tsunami, facing fuel and food shortages, the feasibility may be questionable. Also if exposure estimates are over, the people may not be in as much danger as the DOE believes.
There is no chance of a nuclear explosion. It is a mess, but even if there is a meltdown at any of the stricken reactors, the fuel will not melt fast enough nor in the proper geometry to cause an atomic explosion.
This leaves us with the question, will there be fallout here in the US? Actually fallout is a very bad characterization of the radioactive substances that have been wafted into the atmosphere. The best description would be a radioactive plume. Fallout is highly radioactive, it consists of radioactive particles and ash from buildings, soil, bomb casing and most everything that has been either blown into the atmosphere or vaporized after a nuclear explosion. it falls to the earth as ash, liquids and particles. Contact with it can cause burns if you are exposed for any length of time.
The cloud and plume from Fukushima plant is radioactive, but it will be diluted, and a large portion of the solids and liquids should have condensed and fallen into the ocean, however experts expect some to hit the coast of California.
That leaves our safety in question. Some people are panicking over this info, and needlessly so. Unless we are being lied to, there should not be anything to worry about. You may feel the urge to get a geiger counter, however now may be the most expensive time to get one. Also, you may follow the advice of a website, and end up with a "geiger counter" that will only alarm if you are at the gates of the TEPCO plant. If you have disposable income, buy a good low level geiger counter or scintillator, if you wish. Are KI Pills a good idea? Yes, but you can also protect your thyroid with Tincture of Iodine almost as effectively as taking the pills. If there is radioactive material in the rain, Remove your shoes at the door, take a shower, wash your clothes and filter your drinking water, no worries.
Now, I personally live in the middle of the US, quite some distance from the coast. I am going to try to measure the plume here in Yukon, Oklahoma.
To start with I wiped the dust from one of my front windows using paper towels and a name brand blue glass cleaner, the window surface area is 765 Square inches, Using my digilert geiger counter, which is alpha, beta and gamma sensitive I measured the paper towel over 5 minutes after cleaning the window. The gm counter averaged 14.2 Counts per Minute.
Next, I measured the air, over 5 minutes over the concrete surface of my driveway. The average was 15.6 Counts per Minute.
As another control I measured the air in my living room. There was an average of 15.8 counts per minute.
These numbers are my baseline. If the plume hits Oklahoma, I would expect to have a high count on my front window from radioactive particles stuck to the glass, a somewhat high count in open air, and a relatively low count in my living room.
Window = 14.2 CPM, Driveway = 15.6 CPM, Living Room = 15.8 CPM
PM1703m = 8 microRoentgens per hour, PM1208 .10 microSieverts per Hour.