[May 17 edit: I’m replacing some words with f***ing st*** to see if this takes care of those silly content filters. I’m getting emails about “access denied”. /// 2015+ added: –> Word choices made no difference. This blog site was apparently getting blocked… which in hindsight is incredibly early: May 2011?! Man, the censors were ON it!]
>>> In in this blogpost: “Zardoz”, the latest and last NILU fallout forecasts, and what the Bq/m2 rates for Cs-137 could mean. <<<
“The gun is good. The p**** is evil. The p**** shoots seeds, and makes new life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was, but the gun shoots death, and purifies the Earth of the filth of brutals. Go forth … and kill!” — Zardoz (The post-apocalyse god in the sci-fi/fantasy film ZARDOZ (1974), by John Boorman, starring Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, and Sara Kestelman.)
Watch the Zardoz Trailer: [Click image, or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbGVIdA3dx0]
Why do I mention that? The only professional forecaster agency to produce new simulations of expected fallout distribution on a very regular basis these past 2 months, the ‘Norsk institutt for luftforskning‘ (NILU), just threw in the towel on Fukushima “due to the fact that we do not have access to reliable release rates reflecting the current situation at the plant to be used as input to our simulations”. Simulations are only as good as the combination of the model (reported to be excellent) and the input-data.
S***s Too bad that the latter is no longer available from TEPCO or other sources. But I suppose these Norwegians have a sense of humor in a surreptitious commentary on this fact: The old Fukushima forecasts have been stored on their ZARDOZ.nilu.no server, with their final forecasts for North America (May 12, 2011) showing a bleak return to regional (disturbingly high, actually) new HIGH fallout levels.
The below screenshots for Cesium-137, Iodine-131, and Xenon-133, are from ZARDOZ-NILU’s archive (white-slash-through on all out-dated material, it seems – but as of posting this, 2 days old still gives a clue for this weekend’s glowing realities): the below May 9 simulations (not measurements!), suggesting approximate LIKELY levels reached on May 12th, 2011, the end of radionuclide fallout forecasts for North America (very last screenshot image I could find):
- Cs_137 (particle deposits harmful for at least 300 years; very serious concern): http://zardoz.nilu.no/~flexpart/fpinteractive/plots/tracer_h_2017.gif
- I-131 (particles harmful for about 1 month; mainly dangerous to the Thyroid as a result of ingesting bio-accumulated sources such as milk – Check EPA test results in 3 months…): http://zardoz.nilu.no/~flexpart/fpinteractive/plots/tracer_h_2019.gif
- X-133 (gaseous, half-life of about 5 days, which in this case means it’s extremely unlikely to ever lead to chronic exposure, the only kind believed to be harmfull for this radionuclide; even when inhaled): http://zardoz.nilu.no/~flexpart/fpinteractive/plots/tracer_h_2020.gif
NILU’s May 13, 2011 notice:
That, according to NILU, “it is likely that the release of radioactive material is significantly reduced compared to the initial period, and that levels no longer pose a health risk at distance from the plant”, means that levels DID pose healh risks, something the US government never even acknowledged, and the statement makes no sense as their very last predictions included clouds with very high levels reaching the US and Canada this weekend… Anyhow… yet another information source done with… Not much left.
Since in many areas the predicted/simulated levels reached were on the end of the scale: 400 Bq/m2, what does this mean?
I don’t really know. From what I’ve been reading about it this is my understanding. (I welcome comments to improve my understanding): it all depends on how much comes down, and then how much gets accumulated in food. This thing is far from over, but unfortunately it is over for the few folks in government agencies with access to the kind of expensive labs it takes to get reliable data… :-/
Xe-133, with a half-life of less than a week, (the gaseous particle become half as radioactive about every 5 days after its emergence), is basically harmless so fast to not pose a significant risk. Only chronic significant exposure would be an issue. With a nuke plant that leaks 24/7, going in its 3rd months… I don’t know where “chronic” exposure would start… A year? Years? This material data sheet on X-133 doesn’t clarify that.
I-131, with a half life of about 8 days remains dangerous for about 1 to 3 months max (depending on the amounts, of course). Its danger at relatively low levels comes into play through short-term bioaccumulation, such as from leafy greens and milk. Too bad the EPA quit testing until about 3 months from now. :-/ It is clear that I-131 levels have gone down enough to finally be below the detectable and legal limits again. I added the green and blue lines to illustrate that the 8-day half-life clearly shows here. But any new release of the short-lived I-131 would of course lead to new bioaccumulations in milk. 400 Bq/m2 is DAMN high. If a cow were to absorb much of the particles on and in the grass from such a contaminated square meter, her milk I-131 levels would undoubtedly be back in the harmful levels range. May 16 nuance added: But per square meter in these simulations is for a culumn going up several miles, it is for what moves through in the air, not for what gets deposited, a very important nuance that suggests that only the areas where the concentration quickly dimishes (’cause much is removed through precipitation!) are receiving A PART of this. You see this happen just south of Alaska over the Pacific Ocean… . If this weren’t the case bioaccumulations in milk and other goods would be much much higher. Results in MILK from UC Berkeley:
Cesium-137, with its 30 year half-life and thus dangerousness of at least 300 years remains the main concern. Not so much for inhalation or even background dose levels, but as far as bioaccumulation. It won’t noticeably lose its radioactivity in our lifetime, nor in the next generation’s, so areas contaminated with it are no laughing matter. IF the 400 Bq/m2 would come down (through rain, another thing the EPA stopped doing any extra testing on…), and you end up with many times 400 Bq per square meter in soil, that should show up in a significant way in soil analysis reports, and in milk from cows grazing such contaminated pastures. (Sorry, the EPA quit their extra monitoring on that too…) Cesium levels in milk are still well-above safe levels, but decreasing. The decrease in radioactivity is not because deposited cesium loses its radioactivity this quickly (as is the case with I-131), but probably because it sinks in deeper into the soil and doesn’t get into plants more, or it was already grazed off and no new deposits have occurred. Bioacculmulated radioactivity is now going basically unmonitored in most of North America.
Click image or http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/node/2174 to see latest data
Like NILU, I must conclude the same: without new reliable data, there really is nothing to be said. Fallout levels have to be very high to significantly affect a change in the background radiations (because exposure is related to distance from radionuclide), so we can check online monitors from the EPA Radnet and elsewhere all we want, unless we’re basically screwed BAD (as most of Europe was over a 1-3 week period after Chernobyl in 1986), we’re dependent on widespread and very frequent advanced lab tests, which the EPA has suspended and justified by the reduced levels of the previous couple weeks. It makes so little sense that it gives the impression of a cover-up. With the chaotic fallout distribution patterns, even 10 miles from one testing location the picture could be very different. So for now, a few samples in a few locations every now and then (like the San Francisco Bay Area) is all that’s publicly available… Crazy.
Though – thankfully- not quite as crazy as the movie Zardoz yet. :-)