A Radiological Dispersal Devise Exploded at a Train Station

Vibrant Response 13 - Radiation and nuclear threat responseThe unthinkable happened: A (simulated) 3,000 lb. radiological dispersal devise exploded at a train station in a major Midwestern city. Within hours, reports indicated two additional radiological devises, as well as a possible nuclear device, also detonated within the city.

Within minutes of the incident, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began the process of responding to the crisis; and soon after, an Army North defense coordinating element, or DCE, kicked into high gear as it prepared to help coordinate for Department of Defense assistance.

“Once an incident has happened, FEMA writes a mission assignment and sends it to the defense coordinating officer,” said Lt. Col. Charles Jackson, deputy defense coordinating officer for U.S. Army North’s Defense Coordinating Element Region VII out of Kansas City, Mo. ” The DCO will alert Army North of the help request, and then the defense coordinating element will be activated.”

“Once they have arrived on the scene, they will monitor situational awareness and determine if there are any military immediate responders on the scene. We are always the support element when we respond to situations in the United States,” said Jackson.

Defense coordinating elements serve as the Department of Defense’s first responders to a natural or man-made disaster. The DCEs are permanently assigned to all ten FEMA regions and serve as the DOD’s point of contact to the primary federal agencies responding to an event.

“We are the bridge between the state and federal government in coordinating resources to provide assistance to the American public,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Venable, emergency preparedness liaison officer for Defense Coordinating Element VII.

After a disaster, the state government(s) turns to FEMA to request help in providing resources to those affected. If FEMA cannot provide the needed resources directly, it sends a mission assignment to the assigned DCE requesting help.

Timeliness is paramount once called upon. The process is a quick one and the mission is vital — to aid their fellow Americans when called upon.

“When we get a mission assignment from FEMA, the first thing we do is determine if it meets regulatory criteria,” said Jackson. If it does, the DCE works to get the mission assigned.

Mission assignments fall under three categories: lifesaving, life-sustaining and all others. Once the mission assignment is approved, it is sent to a joint task force to be carried out.

To ensure the DCE is effective in times of national emergency, it is certified annually. DCE VII currently at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and is undergoing certification as part of Vibrant Response 13.

As part of the exercise, as soon as the members of DCE VII arrived on the scene, they quickly worked on gaining situational awareness and to kickoff the process of approving mission assignments that would ultimately go to Joint Task Force — Guardian, a command and control response element composed of National Guard members.

“One of the most difficult things in the initial hours after an incident is determining real information and separating it from inaccurate information,” said Jackson. “That is why it is important that we remain in contact with the responders on the ground.”

The training done at Army North’s Vibrant Response is realistic and beneficial to his team, said Col. Edward Manning, defense coordinating officer, DCE Region VII.

“This training is important because it prepares us to understand what is required in a real-world incident,” said Manning.

Just another day at Army.mil – Original article is posted here

More troop movement for this exercise can be seen in a video here

Chernobyl Plant Worker Shares Painful Memories

KYIV, Ukraine—Nikolai Vsisovich worked as a liquidator inside the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the No. 4 reactor exploded 25 years ago. He is the last surviving work of 18 men. With the Fukushima crisis still not resolved, Vsisovich shares what he sees as too high a price to pay for nuclear power.

The Chernobyl disaster occurred about 75 miles from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and the accident was classified as level 7, the highest rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The International Atomic Energy Agency has rated some individual reactor accidents at Fukushima as level 5, but the Institute for Science and International Security, founded by a former IAEA inspector, says taking the plant as a whole, the level should be 6.

April 26, 1986, seemed like a normal Saturday. “Some men were drinking beer or sodas sitting near their home; children were playing in the yards. It was Saturday and a sunny day,” says Vsisovich.

The only surprising thing, he said, was that residents in the satellite town of Pripyat continued to behave as though nothing was happening after tanks and people wearing special uniforms entered the town to measure radioactivity levels.

The accident had occurred in the middle of the night, just before 1:30 a.m. During a systems test, there was a power surge, and everything went out of control, leading to a series of explosions at the No. 4 reactor. The explosions caused a fire, creating a highly radioactive plume of smoke. The amount of radioactivity released was roughly 400 times more than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, according to the IAEA.

“Safety measures were ignored, the uranium fuel in the reactor overheated and melted through the protective barriers,” according to the IAEA.

Nikolai Vsisovich shows a picture of the protective face mask he wore during the working at the Chernobyl plant after the accident. (Vladimir Borodin/The epoch Times) Shortly after Pripyat was tested for radioactivity, and 36 hours after the accident, Soviet authorities began evacuating the town of nearly 50,000. Pripyat lay less than 2 miles from Chernobyl and had been established in 1970 to house workers when construction of the plant began.

In the ensuing weeks and months, some 200,0000 people were permanently relocated because of the accident.

Vsisovich and other members of plant staff were asked to stay behind because nobody knew the facility better than they did. “Even the leaders of the country came to ask us to stay, although we were supposed to be taken away from the plant because we already received the maximum exposure,” he says.

Plant staff worked together with soldiers who had the most dangerous job of clearing the exploded roof of the reactor.

“For that job soldiers were taken out of the army and paid 1,000 rubles as a bonus, and were allowed to leave military service for good. I don’t know, they might have already died a few years after the explosion,” said Vsisovich.

The 31-year-old Vsisovich went back and forth at a distance of about 500 feet from the exploded reactor, wearing a simple uniform and a facemask

In the first days of the cleanup, many staff members experienced a strange condition that kept them awake. “We had such euphoria that did not allow us to sleep—that excited us very much.”

However, he said then he learned that his body temperature had dropped to 35 degrees. “I felt like a boiled crayfish,” he recalled, adding that when he came home for a vacation after a month of work, he slept for about 20 days without getting out of bed.

Vsisovich, now 56, describes the litany of chronic ailments he suffers, about 20 in all. Most of his fellow workers suffered from heart problems and cancer—some suddenly died years after the disaster.

“I am the only one from my team of 18 people who is still alive,” he says.

Vsisovich thinks workers at the Fukushima plant will also likely suffer health problems. “There are no doubts,” he said.

The Chernobyl disaster and the crisis in Japan have changed his views on the safety of using nuclear power. He thinks the costs are too high and now stands for developing other sources of energy.

Vsisovich doesn’t agree with opening the Chernobyl power plant and the ghost town of Pripyat as a tourist destination. He believes the radiation levels are still too high and that the sarcophagus under the fourth reactor is weak, fragile, and full of highly radioactive dust.

Tours to Chernobyl started in February. The website says it is safe, if you follow the guide’s instructions, and do not “make contact with objects that easily adsorb radiation.” They also advise visitors to wear closed shoes and clothes that fully cover the body.

In the 1990s Vsisovich started helping the victims of Chernobyl by organizing philanthropic events and is working on creating an international fund in case of another Chernobyl, or indeed Fukushima.

Fukushima crisis rating raised, question becomes ‘how much radiation has been released?’

Fukushima and the protests against nuclear energyBy Peter Grier, Washington -Japan on Tuesday raised its assessment of the severity of the situation at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to 7 – the worst score possible on the accident rating scale overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

That does not mean the Fukushima crisis has suddenly become more dire. Japanese nuclear regulators said they moved the rating up from its previous position of 5 due to new assessments of the total amount of radiation released from the plant since it was pulverized by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

So far the Fukushima accident has resulted in a release of about one-tenth of the amount of radiation that escaped from Chernobyl, the worst civilian nuclear disaster to date. Japanese officials said there was a small chance that Fukushima could eventually exceed Chernobyl’s emissions if workers are not able to soon restore the site’s crippled cooling systems.

“This reconfirms that this is an extremely major disaster. We are very sorry to the public, people living near the nuclear complex, and the international community for causing such a serious accident,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

Does the increase in the accident rating mean that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) now have a better idea of the extent of damage at the plant, and where radioactive releases have gone? After all, over the last month residents of the region have complained that they have received confusing and sometimes contradictory information. On Monday, for instance, Japan finally began urging the evacuation of residents of “hot spots” marked by high radiation levels outside the original 12-mile evacuation zone.

Well, officials surely are developing a more accurate picture of the effects of the nuclear accident by the day. But much remains unknown, from the condition of partially melted fuel in the damaged reactors, to why hot spots such as Iitate were affected by greater deposition of radioactive material. What Japan has now is more of an outline of the incident – an outline that will be filled in gradually as the months go by, workers gain greater access to damaged areas, and scientists collect more and more radiation measurements from the environment.

That is why it is premature to make any recommendations about improved safety procedures in the US and elsewhere, according to one former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“After Three Mile Island and after Chernobyl, it took several years of analyzing what happened before one could really reach a conclusion about what could have been done to prevent it, and we are a long way away from having that kind of knowledge about the Japanese systems,” said former NRC chief John Ahearne in an interview posted on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The preliminary nature of authorities’ knowledge about Fukushima can be seen in the fact that different Japanese nuclear regulatory agencies on Tuesday issued different estimates for the total amount of radiation the crippled plant has emitted so far.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency estimated that 370 thousand terabecquerels of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137 have been released from Fukushima since March 11. Meanwhile, Japan’s Nuclear Security Council put the total release of radioactive material at 630 thousand terabecquerels.

At a joint press conference Tuesday the two agencies agreed that the Fukushima accident was a 7 on the IAEA scale. But officials stressed that the increase in the rating was not a signal for the public to panic.

“Right now, the situation of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant has been stabilizing step by step. The amount of radiation leaks is on the decline,” said Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

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Lessons of Chernobyl can apply to Fukushima

Chernobyl in modern timesRussian and the Ukrainian physicians have studied the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster in the past 25 years and they are ready to share their experience with Japan in the wake of the accident at its Fukushima nuclear power plant. Among the illnesses caused by exposure to radiation are radiation sickness, leukemia, thyroid cancer, schizophrenia, cataract and even early death.

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant after a devastating earthquake almost coincided with the 25th anniversary of the explosion of a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl plant. Originally, experts insisted that there will be no dangerous consequences and consequently, there is no need to worry because the Japanese reactor differs conceptually from that of Chernobyl in the Soviet Union, which exploded on the 26th of April 1986. However, as the situation went out of control, radiation started leaking. This prompted the experts to compare the situation with that of Chernobyl, and according to the French daily L’Express, the TERCO Company is inviting those who were involved in eliminating the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster to cope with the situation in Japan. What is the impact of radiation on the health of people is the question that worries all. There is no unambiguous answer, says the chairman of the Russian Scientific Commission on Radiation Protection, Victor Ivanov.

“One has to know three things to make reliable forecasts: the radiation dose, demographical data because the risk of women to a unit dose is greater than that of men, and ways for estimating the radiation risk. Russia has all the models,” says Victor Ivanov.

According to Russian and Ukrainian physicians who treated Chernobyl rescuers, those who received instantly about 300 millisieverts or 0.3 grey or more suffered from serious illnesses. For one, they suffered from leukemia, and there were cancer patients among them, says Victor Ivanov.

“In view of this, we advise Japanese officials to limit the dose down to 150 millisiverts. They are doing so. A few people have exceeded this figure at the Fukushima,” Victor Ivanov said.

Experts believe that unlike in Chernobyl, there is no problem of acute radiation sickness in Japan. The most dangerous one is the severe radiation sickness, which is characterized by radiation burns, non-healing skin injuries, vomiting, digestive problems and high temperature. There were about 150 such patients after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. They were treated at hospitals in Moscow and Kiev, and doctors could save many of them, says radiologist, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Medical Science, Angelina Guskova.

“Many of these patients underwent successful recuperation. This is also confirmed by our colleagues in Kiev. The motivation of these people to work, and personal disposition are crucial in achieving a recovery. A group of Japanese has recently made a documentary film about a person who suffered from radiation sickness after receiving radiation about 4.5 grey. 70 percent of his body’s skin was damaged. He is now doing business actively after treatments. There is a sorrowful example too. This is linked to a man who was the last person to die. He was a young man and received 11 grey. We put our hearts and souls behind him. He died of cirrhosis after recovering from radiation sickness,” Angelina Guskova said.

However, radio-phobia poses a serious threat. There is a concept among specialists known as anticipatory stress. This concerns a person who is afraid in advance that he will be subjected to radiation. This feeling may cause illnesses. The most unpleasant thing is that the fear complex triggers real somatic disorders. Consequently, no one should sow panic, insist doctors who believe that it’s impossible to make any forecasts before the complete localization of the disaster or its elimination.

‘No Safe Levels’ of Radiation in Japan – Danger for Fukushima 50 grows

Fukushima 50 working on cooling problem(TOKYO-IPS/Al Jazeera) – In a nuclear crisis that is becoming increasingly serious, Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency confirmed that radioactive iodine-131 in seawater samples taken near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex that was seriously damaged by the recent tsunami off the coast of Japan is 4,385 times the level permitted by law.

Airborne radiation near the plant has been measured at 4-times government limits.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the company that operates the crippled plant, has begun releasing more than 11,000 tons of radioactive water that was used to cool the fuel rods into the ocean while it attempts to find the source of radioactive leaks. The water being released is about 100 times more radioactive than legal limits.

Meanwhile, water that is vastly more radioactive continues to gush into the ocean through a large crack in a six-foot deep pit at the nuclear plant. Over the weekend, workers at the plant used sawdust, shredded newspaper and diaper chemicals in a desperate attempt to plug the area, which failed. Water leaking from the pit is about 10,000 times more radioactive than water normally found at a nuclear plant

Thus, radiation from a meltdown in the reactor core of reactor No. 2 is leaking out into the water and soil, with other reactors continuing to experience problems.

Yet scientists and activists question these government and nuclear industry “safe” limits of radiation exposure.

“The U.S. Department of Energy has testified that there is no level of radiation that is so low that it is without health risks,” Jacqueline Cabasso, the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, told Al Jazeera.

Her foundation monitors and analyses U.S. nuclear weapons programs and policies and related high technology energy, with a focus on the national nuclear weapons laboratories.

Cabasso explained that natural background radiation exists, “But more than 2,000 nuclear tests have enhanced this background radiation level, so we are already living in an artificially radiated environment due to all the nuclear tests.”

“Karl Morgan, who worked on the Manhattan project, later came out against the nuclear industry when he understood the danger of low levels of ionising radiation-and he said there is no safe dose of radiation exposure,” Cabasso continued, “That means all this talk about what a worker or the public can withstand on a yearly basis is bogus. There is no safe level of radiation exposure. These so-called safe levels are coming from within the nuclear establishment.”

Risk at low doses

Karl Morgan was an American physicist who was a founder of the field of radiation health physics. After a long career in the Manhattan Project and at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he became a critic of nuclear power and weapons. Morgan, who died in 1999, began to offer court testimony for people who said they had been harmed by the nuclear power industry.

“Nobody is talking about the fact that there is no safe dose of radiation,” Cabasso added, “One of the reasons Morgan said this is because doses are cumulative in the body.”

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a report in 2006 titled Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) report, VII Phase 2. NAS BEIR VII was an expert panel who reviewed available peer reviewed literature and wrote, “the committee concludes that the preponderance of information indicates that there will be some risk, even at low doses.”

The concluding statement of the report reads, “The committee concludes that the current scientific evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a linear, no-threshold dose-response relationship between exposure to ionising radiation and the development of cancer in humans.”

This means that the sum of several very small exposures to radiation has the same effect as one large exposure, since the effects of radiation are cumulative.

For weeks engineers from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) have been working to restore power to the plant and have resorted to having seawater sprayed on radioactive fuel rods that have been at risk of meltdown.

Despite this, Japanese officials conceded to the public on Mar. 31 that the battle to save four crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been lost. On Mar. 29 a U.S. engineer who helped install the reactors at the plant said he believed the radioactive core in unit No. 2 may have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor.

Tepco’s chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, said they had “no choice” but to scrap the No’s 1-4 reactors, but held out hope that the remaining two could continue to operate, despite the fact that he admitted the nuclear disaster could last several months. It is the first time the company has admitted that at least part of the plant will have to be decommissioned.

But the government’s chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, repeated an earlier call for all six reactors at the 40-year-old plant to be decommissioned. “It is very clear looking at the social circumstances,” he said.

Even after a cold shutdown, scrapping the plant will likely take decades, and the site will become a no-man’s land.

Tonnes of nuclear waste sit at the site of the nuclear reactors, and enclosing the reactors by injecting lead and encasing them in concrete would make it safe to work and live a few kilometers away from the site, but is not a long-term solution for the disposal of spent fuel, which will decay and emit fission fragments over tens of thousands of years.

Near the plant, the radiation levels dangerously escalated to 400 milliseiverts/hour. Considering background radiation is on the order of 1 milliseivert per year, this means a yearly background dose every nine seconds, based on industry and governmental “allowable” radiation exposure limits.

That compares with a national “safety standard” in the U.S. of 250 millisieverts over a year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says a single dose of 1,000 millisieverts is enough to cause internal hemorrhaging.

Meanwhile, more than 168 citizens organisations in Japan submitted a petition to their government on Mar. 28 calling for an expanded evacuation zone near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site. The groups are also calling for other urgent measures to protect the public health and safety.

Residents of evacuated areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have been warned that they may not be able to return to their homes for months as Japan’s nuclear crisis stretched into a third week.

The neighbourhoods near the plant will remain empty “for the long term,” Yukio Edano, the country’s chief cabinet secretary, said on Apr. 1.

Though he did not set a timetable, he said residents would not be able to return permanently “in a matter of days or weeks. It will be longer than that.”

The official evacuation zone remains only 20 kilometers, while the government has encouraged people within 30 kilometers to evacuate.

Yet levels of cesium-137 in the village of Iitate, for example, have been measured at more than twice the levels that prompted the Soviet Union to evacuate people near Chernobyl. Iitate is 40 kilometers northwest of Fukushima.

Radioactive Iodine has already been found in the tap water in all of Tokyo’s 23 wards.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had already recommended an 80-kilometer evacuation zone for U.S. citizens in Japan.

Fukushima as Chernobyl

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

“There are still no-go areas there, and the workers town has long since been abandoned, and we are seeing radioactive refugees from there, like we are now seeing generated in Japan,” Dr Kathleen Sullivan, a disarmament educator and activist who has been engaged in the nuclear issue for over 20 years told Al Jazeera.

“Tepco is trying to cover their ass, and the Japanese government is being cagey about it, and I believe people don’t understand that radiation is a major problem and issue.”

Dr Sullivan cited Albert Einstein, who said, “The splitting of the atom changed everything, save man’s mode of thinking; thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

“So we don’t understand this mistake because of the timeless invisible nature of the problem that radiation is,” Sullivan, who has been an education consultant to the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs, added.

Some experts have warned of a nightmare scenario where clouds of radioactive material could spread lethal toxins across the planet for months on end if the spent fuel rods catch fire due to lack of coolant.

The Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics of Vienna told New Scientist on Mar. 24: “Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986.

“Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.”

The same group of scientists stated, “The Fukushima plant has around 1760 tonnes of fresh and used nuclear fuel on site,” while, “the Chernobyl reactor had only 180 tonnes.”

According to a report from the New York Academy of Sciences, due to the Chernobyl disaster, 985,000 people have died, mainly from cancer, between 1986-2004.

Monitors have detected tiny radioactive particles which have spread from the reactor site across the Pacific to North America, the Atlantic and even Europe.

Andrea Stahl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, told Reuters, “It’s only a matter of days before it disperses in the entire northern hemisphere.”

Tens of thousands of people living near the plant have been evacuated or ordered to stay indoors, while radioactive materials have leaked into the sea, soil and air.

Last week also marked the 32nd anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster in Middletown, Pennsylvania, in the United States.

250,000 years of radiation

Sullivan explained that when dealing with long-lived radioactive materials, in addition to carcinogens there are inter-generational effects that include the mutation of the genetic structure of life.

“This is permanent and irreversible,” she added.

Sullivan uses Fukushima reactor No. 3 as an example, because it is fueled with Mox fuel uranium and plutonium. Plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years, which means it is carcinogenic and mutagenic for up to 250,000 years, or 12,000 human generations.

A radioactive half-life means that in this case, in 24,000 years, half of the ionising radiation will have decayed, then in another 24,000 years half of that radiation will decay, etc.

“That’s not really understandable or explainable in a conventional sense of knowing,” Sullivan said, “We have to apply our moral imagination to 12,000 generations to even begin to understand what we are doing in this moment.”

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California State Assembly Pushes Tough Green Energy Requirement

Solar panel farmCalifornia has consistently led the nation over the past decade in its adoption of green energy technologies. California ranked first in 2010 amongst all states in solar panel installations. This week, the state assembly approved a measure that mandates utilities to increase the percentage of electricity derived from clean, green energy sources.

The bill would force utilities to provide 33 percent of their power from renewable green energy by 2020 and now only awaits approval from the governor. Currently, laws require utilities to generate 20 percent of their electricity from green energy sources by 2020. Critics of the bill say the mandate is unreasonable considering all of California’s utilities failed to meet previous goals stipulating that 20 percent of their electricity come from renewable green energy by 2010.

Supporters of the bill, on the other hand, assert that Japan and the continuing radiation containment issues, the U.S. should be more focused on weaning itself off fossil fuels and other energy sources aside from wind power and solar power. Moreover, environmentalists claim the mandate would force the creation of around 10,000 new jobs in the time leading up to the 2020 date.

Solar power and wind power technologies have advanced greatly in the recent years and the requirement should be country wide and not isolated to California. Where solar power is less viable, usually wind power is a better solution and vise versa. In California, the adoption of both seems to have two hurdles, financial and societal. Both of which the Japanese nuclear disaster highlights. What will be the human cost in Fukushima for some nuclear power? The environmental cost of fukushima? In the worst solar disaster ever, someone might get squished by a solar array, or electrifried but they will not glow in the dark and set off geiger counters.

‘No Major Progress’ Draining Radioactive Water From Plant

a fukushima 50 worker in a mask waits for his turn to fight the nuclear disasterHere are some of today’s headlines and latest developments related to the crisis in Japan, where a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami on March 11 killed thousands of people, caused widespread destruction along the country’s northeast coast and crippled a nuclear power plant in Fukushima:

— “No major progress is reported in the effort to drain radioactive water filling the basements of turbine buildings near 3 reactors in the damaged Fukushima nuclear facility,” Japan’s NHK reports. “The delay is hampering work to cool down and stabilize the Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.”

Also from NHK: “Tokyo Electric Power Company says plutonium has been found in soil samples from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It says the radioactive substance appears to be related to the ongoing nuclear accident, but the level detected is the same as that found in other parts of Japan and does not pose a threat to human health.”

“The presence of plutonium at the plant adds to the evidence that overheated fuel rods began to melt,” NPR’s Jon Hamilton reports from Tokyo.

— “Japan’s leader insisted Tuesday that the country was on ‘maximum alert’ to bring its nuclear crisis under control, but the spread of radiation raised concerns about the ability of experts to stabilize the crippled reactor complex,” The Associated Press writes. “Wan but resolute, Prime Minister Naoto Kan told parliament that Japan was grappling with its worst problems since World War II.”

— “More than 28,000 people were killed or remain unaccounted for in the quake and tsunami,” according to Japan’s National Police Agency, Kyodo News reports.

— “Tohoku Disaster May Bring Automakers To Their Knees,” says the top headline at the website of The Japan Times.

Fukushima nuclear power plant remains serious

Japanese evacuation's due to Fukushima DaiichiThe director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant remains serious.

Yukiya Amano, IAEA Director General, said, “The difficult situation has not been overcome and takes some time to stabilize the reactors. Radioactivities in the environment, food stuff and water is a matter of concern in the vicinity of Fukushima plant and beyond. Some positive notes are: electrical power has been restored to unit number one, two and three, and fresh water is now available on the site.”

Amano will convene a high-level conference, possibly in late June, to examine safety procedures at nuclear plants worldwide in the wake of the disaster.

The meeting will focus on assessments of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster. The summit will also look at lessons that need to be learned and ways of strengthening the international response to such accidents.

He also adds that beyond experts, the IAEA’s members will be sending government representatives, saying presence at a “political level” is necessary due to the seriousness of the crisis.

Radiation in USA, Japan and the World: All levels of radiation kill

Japan has given us Radiation in our rainThe media can be your friend but sometimes they are just the messenger of the moment. Today they are telling you, “the levels of radiation are ‘safe’ and you should not be concerned”. This is hardly the case, for the same reason you would not want to go get an x-ray everyday, it all adds up. Our bodies not built to deal with it as it passes through our body, thus it kills us, even at low levels. On that topic, I read this article below and found it to be a interesting read. enjoy

“Safe” Radiation is a Lethal Three Mile Island Lie

by Harvey Wasserman

There is no safe dose of radiation.
We do not x-ray pregnant women.
Any detectable fallout can kill.

With erratic radiation spikes, major air and water emissions and at least three reactors and waste pools in serious danger at Fukushima, we must prepare for the worst.

When you hear the terms “safe” and “insignificant” in reference to radioactive fallout, ask yourself: “Safe for whom?” “Insignificant to which of us?”

Despite the corporate media, what has and will continue to come here from Fukushima is deadly to Americans. At very least it threatens countless embryos and fetuses in utero, the infants, the elderly, the unborn who will come to future mothers now being exposed.

No matter how small the dose, the human egg in waiting, or embryo or fetus in utero, or newborn infant, or weakened elder, has no defense against even the tiniest radioactive assault.

Science has never found such a “safe” threshold, and never will.

In the 1950s Dr. Alice Stewart showed a definitive link between medical x-rays administered to pregnant women and the curse of childhood leukemia among their offspring.

After a fierce 30-year debate, the medical profession agreed. Today, administering an x-ray to a pregnant woman is universally understood to be a serious health hazard.

Those who pioneered the health physics profession—towering greats like Dr. Karl Z. Morgan and Dr. John Gofman—set a definitive, impenetrable standard. A safe dose of radiation does not exist. All doses, “insignificant” or otherwise, can harm the human organism.

That has been repeatedly shown in major studies—done most notably by Dr. Ernest Sternglass, Jay Gould, Joe Mangano, Arnie Gundersen, Dr. Steven Wing and others—showing that among human populations near commercial reactors, infant death rates plummet once the reactors shut down.

In 1979, 32 years ago this March 28, the owners of Three Mile Island said there was no meltdown, no serious radiation release and no need for evacuation.

All were lies.

To this day no one knows how much radiation was released or where it went or who it killed.

TMI’s owners ran ads dismissing the emissions as the equivalent of a single chest x-ray given to everyone within a ten mile radius.

But that included all the pregnant women.

Soon infant death rates soared in nearby Harrisburg. Some 2400 central Pennsylvania families sued based on the health impacts.

In 1980 I interviewed dozens of these people. Cancer, leukemia, birth defects, stillbirths, sterility, malformations, open lesions, hair loss, a metallic taste and much more were among the symptoms.

The death and mutation rate among farm and wild animals was also thoroughly documented by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and a team of investigators from the Baltimore News-American.

We were again told there were “no health dangers” from radiation that hit California from Chernobyl ten days after that 1986 explosion. But bird births at the Point Reyes National Seashore quickly dropped 60% from the levels that had been carefully monitored and recorded through the previous decade.

The cloud then crossed the northern tier of the United States. Heightened radiation levels were found in milk in New England—as they were throughout Europe from clouds that had blown from Chernobyl in the other direction.

The doses were neither “insignificant” nor “safe” to those far or near.

In Russia ten years later, I interviewed dozens of downwind victims, and many of the 800,000 “liquidators” who ran into Chernobyl’s seething corpse to help clean it up. After TMI, it was déjà vu all over again.

The most recently published findings, from a compendium of more than 5,000 studies, indicate a global Chernobyl death toll in excess of 985,000, and still counting.

Today we are assaulted by yet another radioactive death cloud from yet another “perfectly safe” nuclear plant.

Fukushima’s radiation is pouring into the air and water. The operators have reported radiation levels a million times normal, then retracted the estimate. Workers are being exposed to doses that are certain to be lethal. At least three of the reactors, and one or more of the spent fuel pools, hover at the brink of catastrophe.

Fukushima’s radiation has now been detected in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and has blown east across North America. It has also been detected in Sweden, which means its blowing across Europe as well.

Radiation is not being released as a single puff. Rather it’s a steady stream that could yet turn into a tsunami.

Fukushima’s worst may be yet to come. Its collective emissions are virtually certain to exceed Chernobyl’s.

And yet we continue to hear smug, misinformed “experts,” TV meteorologists and industry talking heads saying these are “safe” doses.

The response of the Obama Administration has been beyond derelict. As the accident began, the President went on national television to assure us there was nothing to worry about, and that he would continue to demand $36 billion in loan guarantees to build new nuclear plants.

Since then, even as the Fukushima crisis mounts, President Obama has remained silent.

Millions of Americans have heard about potassium iodide (KI), which can be used to block the uptake of radioactive iodine and perhaps protect the thyroid.

But KI can have potential medical side-effects for some individuals. And timing can be critical. To say the least, we need to know when the radioactive fallout is present.

Yet the administration has not provided us with a national supply of KI, or guidance for using it.

At very least we need reliable real-time mapping of the radioactive clouds as they cross the nation. Every American should be issued a mask, and sufficient KI pills with directions on how to use them, if necessary.

Above all, we need national leadership that puts the health of our people first and foremost.

Americans who are of reproductive age—and their unborn, our babies, the elderly, those of us who may be specially sensitive—we all deserve better.

As we have learned so tragically from Drs. Stewart, Morgan, Gofman and Sternglass, from Gundersen and Mangano and so many other researchers, from TMI and Chernobyl, and from the on-going operation of nuclear plants where infant death rates continue to be affected—a “perfectly safe” dose of radiation does not exist.

No truly informed or responsible scientist, medical doctor, health researcher, TV weatherman, bloviating “expert” or on-the scene reporter would ever tell you otherwise.

Whenever you hear the term “insignificant” fallout, ask yourself: “insignificant to whom?”

“Acceptable” to which expectant mother. To whose child? To how many mourning parents? For which dying elder?

Nuclear reactors make global warming worse and prolong our addiction to fossil fuels. They stand in the way of our transition to a totally green-powered Earth.

As we continue to learn at such a huge cost, there can never be a “perfectly safe” nuclear reactor, any more than there can be a “perfectly harmless” dose of radiation.

“Impossible” accidents continue to happen, one after the other, each of them successively worse.

What we fear most about TMI, then Chernobyl and now Fukushima, is not what has happened—but what is yet to come, there, and at the next inevitable reactor disaster.

We are a pro-life movement.

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Traces of Japan radioactivity in US rain

Tests around the plant are showing increasing radiation(AFP) WASHINGTON — Traces of radioactivity from damaged nuclear power facilities in Japan have been detected in rainwater in the northeast United States, but pose no health risks, officials said.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in an update Sunday, said it had received reports of “elevated levels of radiation in recent precipitation events” in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania and that it was “reviewing this data.”

The EPA has been monitoring radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, and had previously detected “very low levels of radioactive material” in the United States, while saying that these “were expected” and that “the levels detected are far below levels of public health concern.”

“Elevated levels of radioactive material in rainwater have been expected as a result of the nuclear incident after the events in Japan since radiation is known to travel in the atmosphere,” the EPA added.

The agency has stepped up its monitoring of precipitation, drinking water, and other potential exposure routes for radiation as a precaution.

Last week, EPA cited “minuscule levels of an isotope that were consistent with the Japanese nuclear incident,” that also posed no “concern for human health.”