Well, again an eventful day for Japan. The good news is as follows, it appears that the Japanese where correct with the 19 mile evacuation zone. The IAEC (International Atomic Energy Commission, part of the UN) has surveyed the affected areas and found that the highest areas of contamination are within those areas. A 50 mile buffer zone may not be needed.
As for not so good news, contaminated people have been found outside of Japan, one passenger set off radiation alarms after deplaning at Chicago O'hare airport yesterday. The Japanese have also upgraded from a 4 to a 5 on the IAEC's 1 to 7 scale. 1 is a very minor incident, 5 is on par with Three Mile Island, and 7 is Cherynoble. In my humble opinion this was a 5 from the start, and is now a 6, or maybe Three Mile Island should be considered a 3 or a 4. There were no explosions at Three Mile Island, some tritium was released into the air, and no radioactive contamination was found in cow's milk or food products in Hershey, Pennsylvania following the accident.
The DOE folks are currently recommending a mix of sand, boron and lead shot be thrown in the fuel ponds. The ponds where damaged in the earthquakes from recent reports, and water either leaks out or boils away, or a combination of the two. Again very frustrating to hear of plans, but not knowing exactly why they are doing it. If there was better reporting by TEPCO and the Japanese government maybe some nuclear engineer or reactor worker could come up with a brilliant simple idea.
Am I still pro nuclear? Absolutely! Remember this was an unusually large earthquake compounded by a tsunami, and unforseen structural damage to the reactors. Reactors can be built better, containments can be designed stronger, backup generators can be designed better, and new procedures can be created to assure the safety of the public. If borated water where available and pumped into the reactors right after they where scrammed, attention could have been paid to the fuel ponds. In the 19th century hundreds if not thousands of people where killed in steam engine explosions, we overcame that and now it is the basis of all power generation. Nothing is without risk, and anything worth having entails risk.
This leaves me to my 15 minute test (actually it takes longer than that). I call it my 15 minute test because I am taking three sets of 5 minute counts from three separate areas.
The intention is that the tests will be done approximately 24 hours apart. Here are today's measurements:
765 sq. inch window swipe (paper towel measured indoors) = 11.6 CPM
Driveway = 12.6 CPM
Interior Home = 14.4 CPM
I cannot account for the drop in outdoor count, my current theory is this, it was sunny yesterday, today it was somewhat overcast, and the winds where more from the north. I do feel that the interior count was higher due to the presence of brick and "stale air." More tests should yield more usable data.
PM1703m = 7 microRoentgen per hour, PM1208 "James Bond" watch = .08 microSieverts per hour