Mainland USA June 14 2015 Radioactive Rain & Lichen Data Revisited – A More Balanced Analysis. + Strontium Data!

July 30, 2015 — 180 miles north of Los Alamos, New Mexico — [70 CPM]

Soundtrack: Anne Waldman — Uh-Oh Plutonium! (1982)

!!!-> Aug 1, 2015: A shorter more digestible version is now available @  Synopsis / Improved Version: ‘Mainland USA June 14 2015 Radioactive Rain & Lichen Data Revisited’. <–!!!

— In this Blog Post… —

  • This blog post is a long-overdue reassessment of the rain & lichen data collected during and after an oddly radioactive thunderstorm in mid-June 2015.  I feel a little bit embarrassed that I missed the mark on almost all radioisotopes I had  declared “de facto detected”.  But, hey, I’m learning a lot, and there are still some véry interesting details in the lab reports.  The case I’m making with these tests for ‘Look at this! Fukushima is still fissioning!‘ is, strictly scientifically speaking, not proven.  But it is very much also not the opposite.  The odds are in favor of fingerprints of recent fission having been present in the rain and lichen I had lab-analyzed.   In short:  while the MDCs were too high for a satisfactory conclusion either way, my findings strongly suggest that “evidence of recent fission upwind” cannot be ruled out whatsoever.  That’s as diplomatic as I can put it. See the ‘New Conclusion’ at the end and commentary throughout for much more.  (This another one of those monster-long posts, probably only appreciated by a couple dozen fellow concerned citizens… (?))
  • I also present what could possibly be the first fully-made-public data of Strontium-89/90  in precipitation for “EPA Region 8”  (CO+UT+WY+MT+SD+ND) in over 3 decades.  (No Sr90, but presence of Sr89 appears ‘likely’.)   See details further down.
  • This blog post was written as part of the very journey looking into this (written as I researched), and as a result discoveries are shared along the way.  The conclusion at the end serves as a brief summary as well.

DISCLAIMER —  (+ On a side-note:  It would be another example of “too bad” if the added-on nuance-disclaimers to my now-admittedly too-alarmist July 6, 2015 post, “Gamma-Spectroscopy Results of Colorado Radioactive Freak Rain: Fukushima’s Fissioning Mini-Sun on the Edge of the Pacific Ocean COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL ?” were missed by the notorious sploggers‘ audiences…  It’s part of why I don’t like my content copy-pasted, and a reason for my general DISCLAIMER too:  I don’t claim to be an expert.   (Just remember, though:  That doesn’t mean I don’t make a valid point here or there.  :-)  You decide.   After all, it is ‘experts’ who designed, approved and built meltdown-capable nuclear power plants on top of active fault lines with no technology even in existence for dealing with the worst case scenarios…)

Anyhow, to learn more, I invited comments (and got dozens – very helpful!); on the raw data I made available @  Gamma Spectroscopy Raw Data Lichen Sample  and @ Gamma Spectroscopy Raw Data Rainwater Sample. (Comments are mainly under Gamma-Spectroscopy Results of Colorado Radioactive Freak Rain…). 

By very strict lab standards, the rainwater was initially stated to be completely ‘non-detect’ (ND) in the sense that NONE (not even Be-7 or K-40) of the energy level upticks above background met the criteria to make the measured quantifiable with certainty.   The final data report does actually show various detections.  Many of these energy upticks, positively above background (albeit often not statistically relevant (?) to become solidly quantifiable), correspond with specific radioisotopes.  I interpret this to suggest the likelihood, or in a few cases even near-certainty, that various natural and synthetic radioisotopes were in fact present in the sample(s), even though they technically don’t meet certain strict detection criteria (of being above ‘Minimum Detectable Concentration’ (MDC)).  This conundrum is touched upon in the section, “Is all the <MDC data réally irrelevant?  A look at a couple natural isotopes.”

First the data…

– This time I’ve divided the data up in 4 categories:

  • MOST CERTAINLY PRESENT:  Quantified measurement.  >MDC
  • MOST LIKELY PRESENT:  Unquantified positive value above background energy level detections suggesting presence, with margin of error entirely in the positive, yet “NQ” (non-quanitiable) or “U” (<MDC).
  • MAYBE PRESENT:  Unquantified positive value above background energy level detections suggesting presence, albeit with margin of error reaching below zero (unquantifiable measurement, yet likely or possible trace presence).  This category is bound to include isotopes that were not present at all.  Further down I will pick out a few isotopes of interest and compare the data to the blanks.   I’ve crossed out some isotopes in this list after comparing the data with the data of the Method Blanks.
  • NOT PRESENT in that rain/lichen sample:  Unquantified negative value below background energy level detections suggesting absence.   (This does not per se mean that an isotope isn’t present, either; it means its gamma decay energy count did not surpass background levels at the time of testing.)

Thus I will present my ‘new data assessments’ (with the above 4 categories) for the rainwater sample , followed by the lichen sample.

– After that, I will show screenshots of the final ‘Individual Sample Data’ (with a couple extras) from the very lengthy pdfs., including the Method Blanks, as well as the list of used lab equipment (in yellow screenshot).

– Then I’ll zoom in on synthetic isotopes that may hint of ‘recent fission’ (which was the aim of the lab tests in the first place) if I find any of those listed under the ‘Most Certainly Present’, and ‘Most Likely Present’, and a few isotopes picked from the ‘Maybe Present’ lists, ignoring the isotopes whose corresponding energy levels did not reach out above background levels, or too little.  The visual presentation of the selected data with their margin of error and MDA/MDC indicated will hopefully help to assess the likelihood whether or not a “likely / maybe present” isotope may have been present in either sample after all.  –> This is an attempt to come to a more convincing statement than “The rain is Non-Detect” for all synthetic isotopes…

– After that I will comment further on what this all might mean, if anything… ending with a “New Conclusion“.

—- —- —- —- —-

Flashback:   How the lab tests came about was described in detail in Gamma-Spectroscopy Results of Colorado Radioactive Freak Rain…, which included the following factors:

  • Lots of lightning inside the thunderstorm clouds;
  • Unusual cloud colors with purples, pinks and greens;
  • Car windshield rain swipe tested 10.2 µSv/hr upon contact with Medcom Inspector Alert Geiger Counter, a new record in my sporadic rain tests;
  • Jet stream wind pattern delivered air that had passed directly over the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear catastrophe site about 3 days prior.  A wind slow-down area was in place right at my location in Southern Colorado.
  • Official US EPA Radnet radiation monitors showed spikes and (typical of downwind F1…) data gaps in the preceding 48 hours.

A screenshot of the jet stream (250 hPa) wind that June 14, 2015:

—- —- —- —- —-

 — New Data Assessments —

Isotopes written in Green mean they occur naturally (as part of the decay chains of Uranium or Thorium, both of which are abundantly present in this region), although their concentration may be “enhanced” by man-made additions; Isotopes written in Red mean they originated artificially in a man-made fission reaction inside a nuclear reactor (or a melted-down still-fissioning blob underground?) or a nuclear bomb detonation; or are artificial neutron-bombardment activation products.  (In some cases activation products could also be created in very small quantities in a cyclotron, but that aside.)

!-> In the original post I at first claimed that all the listed isotopes were “de facto detected”.  That was very incorrect, it turned out.  Even my second-round reassessment eliminated more isotopes from the ‘likely present’ list:

  • Rainwater Sample:

– MOST CERTAINLY PRESENT:  Quantified measurement:

  • Be-7 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)

[Note:  The samples were tested one day, and then tested again a second day.  For the instances where the results differed, I list the isotope in both categories and indicate, “(sample results and sample duplicate results differ)“.]

– MOST LIKELY PRESENT:  Unquantified positive value above background energy level detections suggesting presence, with margin of error entirely in the positive (unquantifiable measurement, yet near-certainty of trace presence):

  • Ac-228
  • Be-7 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Bi-214
  • K-40
  • Pa-234m
  • Pb-212
  • Pb-214
  • Sb-124 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ) [recent fission?]

– MAYBE PRESENT:  Unquantified positive value above background energy level detections suggesting presence, albeit with margin of error reaching below zero (unquantifiable measurement, yet likely or possible trace presence):

[Note: Some of the listed isotopes here are far more likely present than others; this will become clear in the section further down (after the data itself) where I zoom in on selected data and present it visually, and compare it to background levels. Isotopes in this list had at least one positive value in the 4 data sets (Sample/Duplicate Sample, Rain/Lichen)]

  • Bi-212
  • Cs-134
  • Co-56 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Co-57 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Co-58 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Eu-155   [recent fission?]
  • Fe-59
  • I-131   [recent fission?]
  • Na-22
  • Nb-94
  • Ru-106  [recent fission?]
  • Sb-124 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ) [recent fission?]
  • Sb-125  (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Sc-46
  • Sr-89  [recent fission?]
  • Th-227
  • Th-234
  • Tl-208
  • U-235

– NOT PRESENT in that rain sample:  Unquantified negative value below background energy level detections suggesting absence:

  • Ag-110m
  • Al-26
  • Am-241
  • Ce-144
  • Co-56 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Co-57 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Co-58 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Co-60
  • Cr-51
  • Cs-137
  • Eu-152
  • Eu-154
  • Mn-54
  • Nb-95
  • Ru-103
  • Sb-125  (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Sr-90
  • Zn-65
  • Lichen Sample:

I didn’t scrutinize the lichen data as much (as their content can be much older than what’s in the rain), so some of the ‘likely’ and ‘maybe’ could still be ‘not present’ when compared to the background range.  This is a first impression in my reassessment.  More details further down.)

– MOST CERTAINLY PRESENT:  Quantified measurement:

  • Ac-228
  • Be-7
  • Bi-212
  • Bi-214
  • K-40
  • (Co-56  (Probably a false positive  – see note, below)[Recent fission?]
  • Cs-137  (Could be even from bomb test era, Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc.)
  • Pb-212
  • Pb-214
  • Th-234
  • Tl-208

*Note:  Co56_lichen_note9(Cobalt-56, with a half-life of only 77 days, would otherwise be a red flag “proof” of recent fission.  No idea how you could come to a convincing detection of C056 if Bi-214 is also present, the latter of which will always be the case in mountain rain water…  Anyhow, I’ll take their word for it.)

– MOST LIKELY PRESENT:  Unquantified positive value above background energy level detections suggesting presence, with margin of error entirely in the positive (unquantifiable measurement, yet near-certainty of trace presence):

  • Am-241  (Could be even from bomb test era, Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc.)
  • Cs-134    (Fukushima)
  • Pa-234m
  • Sb-125  (Fukushima)

– MAYBE PRESENT:  Unquantified positive value above background energy level detections suggesting presence, albeit with margin of error reaching below zero (unquantifiable measurement, yet likely or possible trace presence):

  • Ag-110m (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Al-26
  • Ce-139 
  • Co-57    (sample results and sample duplicate results differ) [Recent fission?]
  • Eu-152
  • Eu-155
  • I-131      [Recent fission?]
  • Na-22
  • Nb-94   (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Nb-95   (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Sb-124  [Recent fission?]
  • Th-227 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • U-235
  • Zn-65

– NOT PRESENT in the lichen sample:  Unquantified negative value below background energy level detections suggesting absence:

  • Ag-110m (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Ce-144
  • Co-57 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Co-58
  • Co-60
  • Cr-51
  • Cs-134   (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Eu-154 
  • Fe-59
  • Mn-54 
  • Nb-94   (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Nb-95   (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)
  • Ru-103
  • Ru-106
  • Sc-46
  • Th-227 (sample results and sample duplicate results differ)

You can verify all that yourself in the “Gamma Spectroscopy Results”, and further down inZooming in on the Data – Visual Presentations”.

—- —- —- —- —-

 — FINAL DATA: Gamma  Spectroscopy Results

+ Sr89/90: —

(The pdf. documents total over 300 pages, so excuse me for just picking what seems the most relevant)

  • Rainwater – (‘Sample Results‘):

water-1 water-2 water-3 Water-4

  • Rainwater – (‘Sample Duplicate Results‘, the next day):

Water-5 Water-6 water-7 water-8

  • Lichen – (‘Sample Results‘):

lichen-1 Lichen-2 lichen-3 lichen-4

  • Lichen – (‘Sample Duplicate Results‘, the next day):

Lichen5 lichen6 lichen7

  • Added Strontium-89/90 tests, Rainwater Sample only:

Sr89.90_a—- —- —- —- —-

+ Something in the ‘Raw Data’ section of the Sr-89/90 that I thought was interesting, although I’ll admit I actually don’t know how to interpret it (click any image to enlarge it)Seems like a chemical analysis… 

ChemicalAnalysis_Strontium_etc–> CCV: Continuing Calibration Verification; CCB: Continuing Calibration Blank (which is 0.0000 or 0.0001 in the test for Strontium (Sr).  LCS/LCSD are Lab Control Standard/Lab Control Standard Duplicate and are meant to evaluate the performance of the total analytical system, including all preparation and analysis steps.  MB probably stands for Method Blank.  (See http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Analytical_Chemistry/Analytical_Chemistry_2.0/03_The_Vocabulary_of_Analytical_Chemistry/3F%3A_Protocols and page 19 in www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA536678 ); but beyond thát, I’m not sure what that means…   That the element Strontium was chemically clearly present in the rainwater sample?   Can anyone shed some light on this? 

—- —- —- —- —-

+ Equipment the lab Used:

Equipment—- —- —- —- —-

Quality Control:  ‘Method Blank’ (US EPA: Method Blank results show only laboratory sources of contamination): the range here gives an idea of how far over zero detection for isotopes can go without a sample being present.   This is the data for the ‘Method Blank’ (in the Rainwater pdf.):

As you can see right away, a positive value does not mean an isotope is present:

Blank_1 Blank_2 Blank_3—- —- —- —- —-

Quality Control:  ‘Method Blank’ – And  this is the data for the ‘Method Blank’ (in the Lichen pdf.):  

Blank_solid_1 Blank_solid_2 Blank_solid_3—- —- —- —- —-

Quality Control:  ‘Method Blank’ for the Sr89/90 test:

Sr_QC—- —- —- —- —-

That should suffice data-wise, I hope.

If you spot something noteworthy, do please leave a comment.

—- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —-

 — Zooming in on the Data + Visual —

Starting out with a look at Antimony 124 & 125…    For the rain sample, at first sight, it appears that of greatest interest for my investigation might be Antimony-124 (Sb-124).    If we look at both Sb-124 (half-life:  60 days) and Sb-125 (half-life: 2.7 years), along side the data for the Method Blanks, for both rain and lichen, this is all that data in a table:

Antimony_Data_allNow, if you’re more visual, like me, this is still rather annoying to grasp.   There is so much variety in the data, from negative to positive values with varying margins of error… is there even “a signal” in this data that suggests any Sb-124 and/or Sb-125 was present in my samples?   That’s why I decided to create a visual representation of the above data.

– Antimony-124 (Sb-124)…   If I just look at Sb-124 in the rain, accompanied with the Method Blank, you see that the Method Blank shows a range, most of it in the positive (I placed an orange square around the red squares).  The first time the rain sample was tested, the value and most of its margin of error fitted within this range, meaning that even though it was a positive value with a margin of error almost entirely in the positive, it still can’t be differentiated from background.  The second time around, the next day, however, highlighted in green, the measurement was outside this range, its margin of error entirely in the positive, and the value was actually above the MDC (the thick black line, which is nearly the same in all 3 cases):

antimony_124_rain_data_visual3The data again for sample and Sample Duplicate here side-by-side for Sb-124:

ANtimony124_sample_and-DuplicateWhy was there so much difference between two measurements of the same sample?  I have no idea.  Why is the Sample Duplicate marked NQ (non-quantifiable) given 0.25 Bq/L is clearly above the 0.15 Bq/L MDC ?   (Reportedly because of sample density differences between my sample and what the instrument was calibrated to… (?) )

The only thing I can conclude from this, though, is that the presence of Sb-124 in that specific rainwater sample is ‘likely’ present.  Sometimes you just can’t know for sure, though.  If it was really in there, why didn’t it get picked up the first time?   But if it wasn’t in there, where did the uptick, above MDC even!, come from upon duplicate-testing?  (Or why don’t they do a third more thorough test if the difference between the first two is significant? … Ah lab protocols…  Someday soon I’ll know all the lingo and will know how to better specify what I want done… )

The reason I choose to have lichen analyzed is ’cause I read somewhere awhile back that lichen soak up certain radionuclides, like Cesium, similarly to how mushrooms tend to bioconcentrate certain radionuclides.     Given the remoteness of this area, if it’s present in the lichen, it must have been delivered with precipitation.  Since the half-life of Antinomy-124 is only 60 days, detection of it in lichen would also indicate significant leaking of fission products was happening “somewhere upwind”, most likely in as recent as the previous half year…

Here the lichen data for Sb-124, visually (note the scale is different for the data to fit):antimony124lichen_data_visual2 Same here, different results for both tests.   The first test shows a whopping value of 1.1 Bq/g +/- 1.1 Bq/g.  That’s some x10 the blank!  The second measurement is also higher than the Blank, but much more similar, albeit with a wide margin of error that reaches all the way to 1.1 Bq/g.   MDC’s are not met for either.

Regarding the ‘duplicate sample” test.  Not sure why they claim insufficient sample volume, as I sent 3 liters of rainwater… I actually like that they tested the very same sample twice, though.  Anyhow, here’s the opening note about the duplicate sampling:

PartOfOpeningNotes_WaterSo,was any Sb-124 present in these samples?   Rain and lichen combined, it sure looks like it… 2 out of 4 times.  So… For Sb-124, I’m leaving it at ‘likely’ present in both rain and lichen.

– Antimony-125 (Sb-125) was clearly not present in the rain (see table above) when compared to the Method Blanks.  However, even though the lichen data is below MDC, the difference between the lichen data and the Method Blanks nonetheless suggests Sb-125 has been deposited in this region.  With a half-life of just 2.7 years, this suggests it’s almost certain to have been part of fallout from Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan.  Visually:

Sb125_visual(Repeat Note: the top three are in Bq/L, while the bottom three are in Bq/g, so Rain and Lichen can’t be compared here visually!)

So… I think Sb-125, was “likely present in the lichen sample”, but NOT in that rain sample.

—- —- —- —- —-

Okay, so next in line are what I put in the category, “Maybe Present” (in the rainwater): Cs-134, Co-56, Co-57, Co-58, Eu-155, Fe-59, I-131, Na-22, Nb-94, Ru-106, Sc-46, Sr-89. 

PossibleOnes_wHalfLifeSince my aim was to see if I could find “fingerprints of recent fission“, here’s the selected ones ordered by half-life.

I will create visual presentation of the data for these isotopes with a half-life under one year (highlighted), although Cobalt-56 I’ll skip because of the likely Bi-214 spectral interference (see lab note earlier):

  • Iodine-131,
  • Iron-59,
  • Strontium-89,
  • Cobalt-58,
  • Scandium-46
  • Cobalt-57

After that I will also make a comparison for Cs-134, Ru-106 & Eu-155 for both samples, followed by some more discussion of aspects I found interesting.

—- —- —- —- —-

– Iodine-131 (I-131), half-life 8.2 days, is ‘THE’ tell-tale sign of recent fission.  During a nuclear reactor’s regular refueling, however, some I-131 is allowed to escape into the environment.  I-131 is also used in the medical and resource exploitation industries.  Normally, though, it isn’t detected far away from a nuclear facility, except sometimes in sewage sludge near a cancer treatment facility or big city.

(Further reading:   See also comments and additions re. I-131 detections under the Jan 31, 2015 blog post, “DATA of ‘Fallout Signatures’ on Radiation Monitors Suggest Fukushima Still Going Re-Critical Underground At Times. Airborne Fallout Continues To Come Down Across the Northern Hemisphere.“, as well as further discoveries shared in the blog posts: June 6, 2015, Pink Unicorns beach themselves on the shores of Lake Dystopia (with details on the Finish detections of Iodine-131, Biobium-95, Ruthenium-106, Cesium 134/137, etc.), June 7, 2015, “Yup… Fukushima is Still Fissioning – A Nullschool Wind Data Analysis of May 2015 EURDEP-Finland/Germany Radioactive Air Samples,” and June 9, 2015, Radiological Emergency – Northern Hemisphere – RED ALERT !).

Here’s the data organized in a table, with the visual right with it:

I131_dataTable_visualUnits: Bq/L for the water and Bq/g for the lichen (Note: so you can really only compare the top three, and the bottom three, not all six!)

Clearly, although the detections in the rain are higher (in all cases) than the detections in a Method Blank test, they are quiet similar in the rain.   So there’s barely (if at all) a ‘signal’ present in the rain that clearly exceeds background noise.  In the lichen, however… Although, again my impression here is that the lichen data suggests likely trace presence of I-131.   This would, of course, have been delivered with the rain in the preceding weeks, as it decays away very quickly.

(I’ll repeat myself a few more times:  I’m told by the lab that anything that’s <MCD should be considered “Non-Detect”.  I still find that too strict, as discussed further down in a section, “Is all the <MDC data réally irrelevant?  A look at a couple natural isotopes.”)

 —- —- —- —- —-

– Iron-59 (Fe-59) does not occur in nature and has a half-life of just over 44 days.  Fe-59 would be a tell-tale sign of ‘recent fission’, as all it parents are super-short-lived. (See http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/026.59/index2.full.prod.html for the decay chain)  Here’s the data organized in a table.  You can see right away that it’s not even worth making a visual for:

Fe59_tableClearly, Fe-59 appears to not have been present in the samples.

 —- —- —- —- —-

– Strontium-89 (Sr-89):  Sr-89 has a half-life of only 50.57 days.  Like Sr-90 (half-life: 28.9 years), it is “a bone-seeker” as it resembles calcium chemically; and as such is known to contribute to bone cancers and leukemia.    Here is the Sr-89 + 90 data:

Sr89:90table_visual–> The Method Blanks are centered around zero, and the Sr-90 result is practically the same as for the blank.  For Sr-89, however, the odds are tilted towards its presence, I’d say.  It is again a case of <MDC, yet there’s clearly a slight but obvious uptick (highlighted in green) compared to background noise.

No Sr-90 in the rain.   Yet I don’t think it’s unscientific to state that while unquantifiable with certainty, Sr-89 was ‘possibly’ or even  ‘likely’ present in that rain.

(I did not subject the lichen to this test because it was an extra $100 for the Sr90 test and another $100 for the Sr89 test.  I’ve shot myself in the financial foot enough already with my ‘independent investigations’…  while the EPA lets their state of the art equipment in centers across the country collect dust… Effing unbelievable how the nuclear cartel has taken hold of agencies that were originally meant to safeguard against industrial pollution… Meanwhile these psychos are buying more weapons to fight more quality-of-life-wrecking wars… Sigh…)

I wanted to make sure I got my interpretation right, so I specifically asked the lab technician this question:

Am I reading it correctly that Sr90 was basically ‘non-detect’ (@ -0.002 Bq/L+- 0.011 Bq/L), and Sr89 (@ 0.010 Bq/L +- 0.015 Bq/L) was detected (albeit still with a 1/6th (16.67%) chance that it wasn’t present and thus not meeting the strictest lab definition of ‘detection’); and thus I can only claim that Sr89 was near-certainly present in that rain, possibly at about 0.010 Bq/L, but that this data 1) comes with an uncertainty range that includes non-detect, and 2) the data can’t be used for any quantified calculations because it was below MDC.   Is that correct?  Or is it ‘certain’ that Sr89 was present in the rain, period, but in such trace amount it simply couldn’t be quantified? 

And received the same answer (my emphasis):

Both the Sr90 and the Sr89 are non detectsAny value, positive or negative, that is below the MDC must be considered a non-detect.  The positive sign of the result simply indicates that the counts seen on the instrument were above the background value.  But you have to get even farther above the background value in order to be considered statistically significant.

Darn…   Yet, still…, I just can’t help but think that ‘something’ pushed the count above background…  Like the very isotope that corresponds with that energy level perhaps?   BUT… the value for Sr-89 in the rain lies within the margin of error for the blank, making it definitely a rather weak ‘signal’.  There’s no duplicate here to cast extra doubts, or strengthen the impression.  You can definitely say that a trace of Sr-89 in the rain can’t be ruled out, and that more testing is required.  Given the measurement, albeit Sr-89 was likely present in the rain.’

See also (scroll down), the section,  “Is all the <MDC data réally irrelevant?  A look at a couple natural isotopes.”

Radnet_Sr90

No testing = No Data = “No Reason for Concern”

On a Strontium side note:  All those people who say that “there’s nothing to be concerned about” actually have almost no data to base that blind belief upon.  It’s industry-pushed propaganda with no basis in reality.    If there’s any way that I can drive home the extreme level of negligence by the US Federal government in regards to monitoring the fallout from Fukushima over North America and the Pacific, perhaps this takes the cake:  I (moi, ich, me, ik), with this one Sr89/90 lab test of rainwater,  have done more precipitation monitoring for Strontium-89 & 90 in Region #8 (Colorado + Utah + Wyoming + Montana + North and South Dakota) since 1978 than the US Environmental Protection Agency.   Let that one sink in.  Check the US EPA Radnet EnviroFacts Database yourself @ http://iaspub.epa.gov/enviro/erams_query_v2.simple_queryNo Data to be found for those troublesome isotopes in precipitation in this region.  (More options via Online Radiation Monitors -> USA.)

 —- —- —- —- —-

– Cobalt-58 (Co-58), half-life: 71 days.  Here’s the data organized in a table, with the visual right with it.

Co58_visSeems unlikely Co-58 was in this rain.  The Rain’s Duplicate Sample’s value lies within the margin of error of a blank, while the Sample, as well as the two lichen tests showed nothing.   The one positive (0.086)  is not even double the blank (0.047) and falls within the blank’s margin of error.  It can’t be ruled out, but I’m more inclined to consider the more likely is this:   No Co-58 in the rain nor lichen.  (Although upon scrutinizing the data for natural isotopes that were certainly present, the slight uptick in the rain’s Duplicate Sample does suggest Co-58 was ‘likely present’ in the rain… after all)

 —- —- —- —- —-

– Scandium-46 (Sc-46), half-life:  84 days.  Here’s the data, which, like with Fe-59, you can see right away that it’s not even worth making a visual for:  SC46–> Sc-46 was not present in the rain nor lichen.

 —- —- —- —- —-

Cobalt-57 (Co-57), half-life:  272 days.  You see something quite similar to Co-58 with the 0.060 being within the Blank’s margin of error, though 2 out of 4 measurements are clearly higher than the two Method Blanks…  Like Co-58, it’s possible, but I wouldn’t call it likely:  More likely:  No Co-57 in the rain, and only a slight chance of Co-57 in the sampled lichen.

Co57vis

 So, as far as all the “recent fission tell-tale signs” go, the data for 3 relatively short-lived synthetic radioisotopes (Sb-124, I-131, Sr-89) suggests ‘recent fission’ upwind appears ‘likely’, although I suppose it must be understood that this impression is based on “somewhat questionable data interpretation.”

Let’s see if a few longer-lived synthetic radioisotopes can add to the discussion…

 —- —- —- —- —-

– A comparison for Cs-134 (HL: 2 years), Eu-155 (HL: 4.7 years) & Ru-106 (HL: just over 1 year):   For all 3 isotopes, the rain measured higher than background.  One of the two tests resulted in Ru-106’s margin of error being entirely in the positive.  This is almost the case for one test for Eu-155.

CsEuRu_rainWhat makes Ru-106 and especially Eu-155 interesting as an indicator of recent fission is the fission product yields for these isotopes:

  • Cesium-134: 6.7 %
  • Ruthenium-106: 0.3912%
  • Europium-155: 0.0803 %

So to detect ANY Ru-106 or Eu-155 in rainwater would also suggest recent fission, simply because so little of it is released relative to Cesium-134/137 and Iodine-131.  (I have not focused on Cs-137, because its half-life of 30 years means it could be from any point in the nuclear era.)  The deeply negative Method Blank results give the appearance of a slight ‘negative bias’ against detecting these isotopes, making the positives in the samples perhaps more meaningful than they appear. (?)    While the data is, again very weak at <MDC, it dóes hint of Ru-106’s presence, again:

Ru106To play devil’s advocate for a sec: At the same time, since a blank can “measure” -1.0, perhaps it could just as well “measure” +1.0, in which case all this would all look like highly unlikely, and the lab’s point that anything below MDC needs to be ignored is probably a protocol that came about through time-tested experience… I don’t know…

Looking now at the same three isotopes (Cs-134, Eu-155 & Ru-106) in the Lichen sample:

 Cs134_Eu155_Ru106_Lichen.TableWhile Ru-106 looked “promising” to investigate further in the rainwater, in the case of the lichen sample, Europium-155 is clearly the most striking.   Here’s the lichen data visually:

Eu155_lichenIt sure is all <MDC again, but the uptick above background does seem to suggest it was deposited here.  As a fission product (@ a fission yield of only 0.0803 % and half-life of 4.7 years), it’s a curious detection.

One of the things quantified data of widespread sampling could reveal is that different isotopes are deposited in different patterns, which would undermine the scientific establishments’ assumption that underlies their MO to use Cesium as a reference for almost everything, including to determine whether it’s worth it or not to even test for something else.  (For instance, the EPA protocols have them only tests for Strontium levels if Cesium levels were first discovered to be significant.)

The key question I’m left with, pondering over all this statistical uncertainty, is, Is all the <MDC data réally irrelevant?

 —- —- —- —- —-

Is all the <MDC data réally irrelevant?  A look at a couple natural isotopes.

Sorry, this is bugging the hell out of me.  It’s almost like saying the same thing twice: Sr-89 in rain was likely ánd uncertain.  ‘Likely’ is an expression of uncertainty. “It’s quite possible.”  “Data is statistically not relevant enough, but the odds are in favor of it being present.” How many ways to say that the duck said quack?  Maybe there was nothing strontiumesque in the rain at all, and the Sr89-indicative uptick above background…  just a random noise fluke?   Not impossible, but…   Really?

Let’s look at the data for Bismuth-214 and Lead-214 in the rainwater.

Bi214_Pb214_inChain_partialThis region is rich in Uranium and Thorium.  Uranium (U) is a naturally occurring radioactive element that has no stable isotopes but two primordial isotopes (U-238 and U-235) that have long half-lives and are found in the Earth’s crust, along with the decay product U-234.  Eventually along the decay chains you get the infamous Radon gas (Rn-222).

See http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/086.222/index2.full.prod.html.   A little further along the decay chain you see Bi-214 and Pb-214, very common short-lived decay daughters of Radon-222.  These are bound to be present, especially in Rocky Mountains’ rainwater.

– the half-life of Pb-214 is only about 27 minutes;

– the half-life of Bi-214 is only about 20 minutes.

If they still show up at all a week after sample collection, that means some of the parent isotopes, such as Rn-222 (half-life: 3.8 days) was also in the sample.

Here’s the data from my rainwater sample: Pb214_Bi214_data_visualYou can see that on June 22 both Bi-214 and Pb-214 were clearly detected, even above MDC (that it is still NQ (“non-quantifiable”) has something to do with the density being too different than the what the instrument was calibrated to.)  24 hours and a lab test later, these have obviously decayed away and no longer stand out from background.

Due to their fast decay, this makes for a bad example to try to point out <MDC not being insignificant…

If you look at the scintillator graph from the very first rainwater test, you see the energy peaks of the most abundant natural (or “artificially enhanced”) isotopes.  When I was first told the rain was entirely “non-detect” while staring at raw data that seemed to suggest otherwise, I asked if they could identify the peaks I had marked in green.  They did, clearly showing the now-NQ-flagged isotopes, Pb-212, Pb-214, Bi-214, K-40 as well as Be-7.

Detected or not detected, what do you think?:

peaksidentified_1annot_1bBe-7 was just below MDC in the sample, and quantifiable-detected (!) in the duplicate sample the next day.   That in and of itself is interesting to take “non-detected because <MDC” with a grain of salt.  Not indicated on the scintillator graph, but also flagged ‘NQ’ (detected but not quantifiable) were Tl-208 and Th-234.   The peaks of the synthetic isotopes that I consider “likely present” are too small too show up on this rough print-out, I think.  Let’s first look at that Beryllium-7 (Be-7), (half-life: 53 days) in the rain:Be7_Rain_vis–>  We KNOW, from the Duplicate Sample test, as well as from seeing it on the Scintillator graph that Be-7 was present in this rainwater sample.  We knów that!   Yet, we can also see that in the first test (Sample) of that rainwater, the uptick is not even double the blank, falls within the Blank’s margin of error, and is below its MDC.    Doesn’t this strongly hint that if one of your two tests shows an uptick above the Method Blank, even if it’s not that much, that the chance that the isotope is actually present is rather likely?

Pb212_Bi212_inDecayChain_partial

click to enlarge

Pb-212 and Be-7 are perfect examples of isotopes that are clearly present in the sample, one might say ‘detected’, and this not always meaning that the measurement reaches above MDC levels.

I’ll look at the data for Bi-212 and Pb-212 together first, since Pb-212 (half-life: 10.64 hours) decays into Bi-212 (half-life: 1 hour).

Decay chain:  http://periodictable.com/Isotopes/086.220/index2.full.prod.html

 So, here the data in a table of these two naturally ocurring radioisotopes about which we KNOW that at least a trace was in the sample:  212tableAs you can see, only half the time is the value above the Method Blank value.  Does the high value for the Method Blank for Bi-212 indicate that the instrument was contaminated a little bit?   Or is this all part of the range that is “statistical noise”?  In any case, since it is pretty much certain that these radon daughters were present in the rainwater, this suggests, again, that even a small uptick above background shouldn’t be dismissed off-hand as irrelevant.

SO, obviously <MDC data is not irrelevant.

What did this cost?

  • Gamma spectroscopy Rainwater: $200
  • Gamma spectroscopy Lichen: $200
  • Strontium-90 test Rainwater: $100
  • Strontium-89 test Rainwater: $100
  • Rainwater Processing (dividing 3 L in separate 1L bottles and filtering the rainwater, adding the residue to the lichen sample):  3×25= $75

Total:   $675.     + Tons of my time.

Funding:  100% at my my personal expense.  (Someday soon I’ll fix my donate button… It fell apart because I had no address to keep my PayPal account valid…)

 —- —- —- —- —-

  • New Conclusion:

Unfortunately my research leaves little room for doubt:  I jumped the gun on calling all listed radioisotopes as “de facto detected”.  However, more importantly perhaps: There are a number of synthetic radioisotopes, most notably Sb-124, I-131, Sr-89, Ru-106, Cs-134, Eu-155, Co-57 and maybe Co-58 and Co-56 as well, that collectively (7 to 9 times “likely present”) make the hypothesis that Fukushima is still fissioning and sending tell-tale synthetic radioisotopes high into the atmosphere, that are then transported quickly by the jet stream, rather hard to dismiss as nonsense.

Although I could not establish ‘certainty’, and thus my findings aren’t ‘proof’,   upon scrutinizing the data further, however, I do consider it more ‘likely’ than not that one or more molten reactor cores underneath the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear catastrophe site is still fissioning, Summer 2015. 

If so, this would mean that besides decay heat, fission heat is also created, and the rubble is subjected to heavy neutron bombardment, which would give rise to an enormous surge in Tritium and a few other activation products (perhaps including Cobalt-60, Sulpher-35, Niobium-94, Polonium-210, and others).  So far the ice wall attempts have failed.  There is still no containment.   An artificial mini-sun of possibly many thousands of degrees hot is creating new untold amounts of radiotoxins into the groundwater and the Pacific.  Most of these fission and activation product radiosiotopes are extremely health-hazardous and aren’t even being tested for.

The unbelievably misguided secrecy that the Japanese government, as well as its IAEA-aligned cohorts in the US, Russia and Europe, have wrapped this troubling reality in hinders the emergency mobilization of creativity needed to address the situation at hand.   This situation, physically on-site and socio-politically internationally, has the potential to absolutely ruin the ecological balance and long-term health of the Pacific Ocean, and by extension of this entire planet.

The seriousness of this situation cannot be underestimated.

— — — — — — —   — — — — — — —   — — — — — — —

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If you spot errors or typos, please let me know.   Last Edited: Aug 1, 2015:  link added: 
!!!-> Aug 1, 2015: A shorter more digestible version is now available @  Synopsis / Improved Version: ‘Mainland USA June 14 2015 Radioactive Rain & Lichen Data Revisited’. <–!!!
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8 Responses to Mainland USA June 14 2015 Radioactive Rain & Lichen Data Revisited – A More Balanced Analysis. + Strontium Data!

  1. Pingback: Gamma-Spectroscopy Results of Colorado Radioactive Freak Rain: Fukushima’s Fissioning Mini-Sun on the Edge of the Pacific Ocean COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL ? | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  2. diemos says:

    Technical note:

    Your new results are reported as “result +/- 2 s TPU”, I believe that means that the number after the +/- is equal to 2 x sigma. I believe in your previous reports the number after the +/- was one sigma.

    Just something to be aware of.

  3. MVB says:

    Nice detail. So the uncertainty level of the final data is a little greater than the first reported, correct? And that added uncertainty perhaps allowed for some isotopes to be ‘detected’ (albeit ‘NQ’, with 2 sigma uncertainty), while before they were considered non-detect (with 1 sigma). Good to be aware of indeed.

    For other readers, on Sigma (uncertainty): http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2012/explained-sigma-0209

  4. Pingback: Synopsis / Improved Version: ‘Mainland USA June 14 2015 Radioactive Rain & Lichen Data Revisited’. | Not All Alleged Is Apparent…

  5. diemos says:

    As betas pass through material they continually lose energy by creating ionization until they run out of energy and come to a stop, becoming just another electron.

    Gammas on the other hand pass through material without losing any energy until they finally interact with one of the electrons in the material they are passing through, transferring their energy to it and creating a beta particle with the same energy.

    So gamma spectroscopy is great because the gammas are produced with definite energy and those that survive passing through the material between their birth and the detector arrive with the same energy they were born with and so you get those nice sharp lines that make them easy to identify.

    Beta spectroscopy is a pain though. The decay produces both a beta and an anti-neutrino and the decay energy is shared between the two particles. So the beta doesn’t start with a sharp well defined energy, it has a distribution that stretches from zero to the endpoint energy. It also loses energy between its origin and the detector due to the material it passes through.

    In order to measure Sr89 and Sr90 via beta spectroscopy you first process the sample to remove the strontium. The water is passed over a filter that binds to the strontium. In order to know how efficient the filter is for removing strontium you add a known amount of stable strontium to the sample, in your case 1024 micrograms, so that after the filtering you can measure the weight difference of the filter to see how efficient it was for removing the strontium from the water. Your filter measured an extra 979.8 micrograms after the filtering yielding an efficiency of 95.7%. Without the additional stable strontium the weight change would be too small to measure. Since different isotopes of strontium behave the same chemically the efficiency for removing Sr89 and Sr90 from the sample is assumed to be the same.

    The filter is then placed into a vacuum chamber that contains the detector so that the betas produced can have a path from their birth to the detector that has a minimum of material in the way so that they don’t lose a significant amount of energy before they are measured.

    Soil typically has 150 milligrams of stable strontium per kilogram. So your rainwater will typically have some stable strontium in it, since wind kicks up dust containing it which the rain then washes out of the air. The chemical analysis of trace elements in your sample apparently detected strontium but can’t distinguish between stable or radioactive isotopes since their chemical behavior is the same.

    The beta spectroscopy result did not detect either Sr89 or Sr90.

    And this, incidentally, is why you see a lot more measurements looking for Cesium than you do measurements looking for Strontium. Because the prep work needed for beta spectroscopy makes it a PITA compared to gamma spectroscopy.

  6. diemos says:

    Isotopes put out gammas at particular energies so you can look for them by looking for peaks in the gamma spectrum at those energies.

    Randomness can create “peaks” that are meaningless and randomness is just as likely to create “valleys” that are meaningless as it is to create meaningless peaks.

    In order to claim detection the signal needs to be large enough to rise out of the sea of randomness. This is usually set be specifying how many sigma the central value of the measurement needs to be away from zero before it is considered significant.

    A reasonable set of definitions would be:
    > 2 x MDC: probably detected
    > 1 x MDC: possibly detected
    < 1 x MDC: not detected, all you can say is that if it’s there it’s concentration is most likely below the MDC.

    A good test of whether you have done this correctly is to go looking for nega-isotopes. These are hypothetical isotopes that have the same lines as the regular isotope but produce valleys instead of peaks in the gamma spectrum. A detection of these is an indication that your detection criterion is loose enough that you will be fooled by randomness more than you would like.

    < -2 x MDC: nega-isotope probably detected
    < – 1 x MDC: nega-isotope possibly detected
    > – 1 x MDC: not detected, all you can say is that if it’s there it’s concentration is most likely below the MDC.

    Using these definitions none of your tests detects any nega-isotopes either probably or possibly.

    Rainwater – Test 1:
    Probably detected:
    Ac-228

    Possibly detected:
    Bi-214
    K-40
    Pb-212
    Th-234
    Tl-208

    Rainwater – Test 2:
    Probably detected:

    Possibly detected:
    Ac-228
    Be-7
    Sb-124

    Lichen – Test 1:
    Probably detected:
    Ac-228
    Be-7
    Bi-212
    Bi-214
    Cs-137
    K-40
    Pb-212
    Pb-214
    Tl-208

    Possibly detected:
    Co-56
    Th-234

    Lichen – Test 2:
    Probably detected:
    Ac-228
    Be-7
    Bi-212
    Bi-214
    Cs-137
    K-40
    Pb-212
    Pb-214
    Tl-208

    Possibly detected:
    Co-56
    Th-234

    Method Blank – Test 1:
    Probably detected:

    Possibly detected:
    Tl-208

    Method Blank – Test 2:
    Probably detected:

    Possibly detected:

    Your “most likely present” seems to mean a central value more than 2 sigma from zero and your “maybe present” seems to be defined as a central value from 0 sigma to 2 sigma away from zero.

    So using those definitions we would “detect”:

    Rainwater – Test 1:
    Most likely present:
    Ac-228
    Bi-214
    nega Eu-154
    K-40
    nega Th-227
    Th-234
    Tl-208

    Maybe present:
    nega Ag-110m
    nega Al-26
    nega Am-241
    Be-7
    Bi-212
    nega Ce-139
    nega Ce-144
    Co-56
    Co-57
    nega Co-58
    nega Co-60
    Cr-51
    Cs-134
    nega Cs-137
    nega Eu-152
    Eu-155
    Fe-59
    I-131
    nega Mn-54
    Na-22
    Nb-94
    nega Nb-95
    nega Pa-234m
    Pb-212
    nega Pb-214
    Ru-106
    Sb-124
    Sb-125
    nega Sc-46
    U-235
    nega Zn-65

    Rainwater – Test 2:
    Most likely present:
    Ac-228
    Be-7
    Bi-212
    nega Ce-139
    Co-58
    Pa-234m
    Pb-212
    Pb-214
    nega Th-227
    Th-234
    Tl-208

    Maybe present:
    Ag-110m
    Al-26
    nega Am-241
    nega Bi-214
    Ce-144
    nega Co-56
    nega Co-57
    nega Co-60
    nega Cr-51
    nega Cs-134
    nega Cs-137
    Eu-152
    Eu-154
    nega Eu-155
    Fe-59
    I-131
    nega K-40
    Mn-54
    Na-22
    Nb-94
    nega Nb-95
    Sb-124
    nega Sb-125
    Sc-46
    U-235
    nega Zn-65
    Ru-106

    Your definition of detection is “detecting” way too many nega-isotopes that can’t possibly exist. So it can’t be a useful definition of detection.

    Those “very strict lab standards” are actually needed to keep you from splashing around in the surf of the sea of randomness and to keep you on dry land. Otherwise you can way too easily be fooled by randomness into drawing conclusions that aren’t actually supported by the data.

  7. diemos says:

    When asked why he robbed banks, depression era bank robber Willie Sutton was reported to have said, “Because that’s where the money is.”

    Looking for short lived fission products and neutron activation products as a signal of recent criticality is certainly a fine thing to do but my first instinct as an experimentalist would be to go where the signal is. One’s best chance of seeing all these short lived products is to get a sample from as close to the coriums as you can get, not from rainwater on the other side of the planet.

    From tepco’s own monitoring,
    http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15061901-j.pdf , we know that there is ground water with 5 million Bq/L of Sr-90 in it, plus Cs-134 Cs-137 and all sorts of fission and activation products. If I wanted to do this measurement that’s where I would look first, where I would get plenty of signal to measure.

    (Now of course it’s logistically a lot easier to get a rainwater sample from the backyard than to get tepco to give you a sample that you would probably need an NRC license just to have, not to mention that it would probably need to be handled, stored and disposed of as nuclear waste. Details. Details.)

    But really, if you’re going to look for this stuff, why not look where the signal will be strongest? Since tepco reports Sr-90 measurements we know that they’re doing beta spectroscopy and that gives you a Sr-89 measurement at the same time for free. So the data you’re interested in is out there somewhere.

    After four years the Sr-89 / Sr-90 ratio would be 2.2 x 10-9 so a sample with 5 million Bq/L of Sr-90 should have about 0.011 Bq/L of Sr-89 if it was produced 4 years ago. More if it was produced more recently.

  8. MVB says:

    Thanks. I understand. (Well, I thnk I do. ;-) ) I agree in principle, but disagree on
    “> 2 x MDC: probably detected
    > 1 x MDC: possibly detected”

    The whole point of MDC is to have a level after which you can be reasonably certain, not just of the presence, but of the concentration (with a reasonable level of certainty). Probable is like 50/50. More likely than not is at least >50% chance. To require X2 MDC for you to even consider detection “probable”, sounds like a case of ‘negative bias’ to me. Nothing wrong with that, but that’s not always called for, imo.

    In any case, Sb-124 in the first rainwater test is my strongest, perhaps only, case for recent fission fingerprints in that rainwater. One would be enough. I think that the data fro I-131, Sr89, Ru-106, Cs-134 & Co-57 (better presented in the next blog post @ https://goo.gl/VO3MLl ) adds to the likelihood that “something” is actively releasing fission products, curiously along the wind path that crossed Fukushima.

    It’s not ‘proof’, I acknowledge that. It’s the best I could do with the means I had. It is what it is. If anything, I hope hope it spurs a lot more far more sophisticated investigations. I remain under the impression that there’s something going on those in on it do not want us to know about. We share this planet. We have every right to know what’s happening.

    I appreciate the time you’ve put into commenting. Been very helpful to understand some of the uncertainties involved. Thank you.

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