Above Ground Nuclear Testing, Alaska, Alaska seals, Chukotka, Fukushima, Fukushima fallout, Fukushima fallout Africa, Fukushima fallout Asia-Pacific, Fukushima fallout Australia, Fukushima fallout China, Fukushima fallout Europe, Fukushima fallout India, Fukushima Fallout Middle East, Fukushima fallout Near East, Fukushima fallout Russia, Fukushima fallout South America, Global Fukushima fallout, Northern Fur Seals, Russia, seals, St. George Island Alaska, St. Paul Island Alaska, USA
Most recent update was Sunday, 13 July
(Search in text for 13 July to save scrolling down)
This post is a continuation of: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/radioactive-reindeer-nuclear-guinea-pigs-part-x-of-a-series/
Dasher (2014) et. al. used the radionuclide fallout Model of Christdoudias and Lelieveld (2013), as part of their presentation on illnesses found in Alaskan animals, post-Fukushima. Although, this model looks frightening, it actually models far less radiation, at least for parts of Alaska, and Chukotka, Russia, than another model by Park et. al. (2013). Both seem to be based on emissions from Fukushima in the period of March to early May 2011. Unfortunately, models are just that – educated, best estimates, based on available information and interpretation of that information. They have modeled only a few of the radionuclides, which fell from the air. These models do not account for radionuclides flowing to Chukotka Russia and Alaska by ocean current.
Map from Christdoudias and Lelieveld (2013) of depositions of Iodine 131 and Cesium 134 and 137:
Note that this model, by Christoudias-Lelieveld (2013), has becquerels per meter squared total deposition for western Alaska, and most of extreme northeastern Russia, as between 100 and 1,000 Becquerels per meter squared (the lighter orange), and between 1,000 and 10,000 Becquerels (the darker orange). Recall that kBq is 1,000 Becquerels, and that Becquerels is radioactive disintegrations (i.e. emissions) per second. And many of you are in shock right now that you have gotten fallout from Tepco’s disaster at Fukushima. (Just remember to multiply the side bar by 1,000 to turn kBq to Becquerels). This will indeed add to the world average “background radiation” level to which they ADD any additional exposure.
Below is the Park et. al. (2013) model for I 131 followed by a zoom in of it:
While showing negligible amounts for much of mainland Alaska (if it is even modeled), some offshore areas, including what seems to be St. Paul Island, and possibly St. Lawrence Island, are modeled as having extremely high levels, i.e. the darkest gray before black or ranging from 1,000,000 Bq/m2 to 10,000,000 Bq/m2. Unfortunately, this map seems to have originally been in colour and published gray scale. If one assumes a gradation from darker to lighter, then much of offshore southwestern Alaska, and coastal and offshore northeastern Russia (Chukotka), would seem to have between 100,000 and 1,000,000 Bq/m2. Off shore Chukotka has the very darkest gray area too. On a lot of the land in northeast Russia, and some in southwestern Alaska, there appears to be between 10,000 and 100,000 Bq/m2, although it is difficult to tell with this gray-scale map.
Park et. al. (2013) note: “The first emission peak of 834 GBq s-1 of 131I and 83.4 GBq s-1 of 137Cs from 15:30 JST to 16:00 JST 12 March was reported to be related to the hydrogen explosion in reactor unit 1. The highest emission of up to 1,110 GBq s-1 of 131I and 110 GBq s-1 of 137Cs during the period of 11:00 JST 14 March to 17:00 JST 15 March 2011 was reported to be relate to the hydrogen explosion in unit 4 and together with the hydrogen explosion in unit 2” (Park et. al., 2013, p.64) That is peak becquerels per second! GBq is billions, so the first emission peak, for Iodine 131 ONLY, was 834 billion becquerels per second, i.e. 834,000,000,000 becquerels (radioactive disintegrations) per second! The full reference for the Park et. al. map (and zoom) and quote is: Park, S., Choe, A. and Park, M. (2013) “Atmospheric Dispersion and Deposition of Radionuclides (137Cs and 131I) Released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant“. Computational Water, Energy, and Environmental Engineering, 2, 61-68 http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=32927 (© 2014 by authors & Scientific Research Publishing Inc., CC – Attribution 4.0 International License).
Christdoudias and Lelieveld (2013) point to some of the challenges of obtaining data to make a model: “The preliminary initial emission estimates by Chino et al. (2011) were superseded by revised estimates published by Katata et al. (2012) based on additionally disclosed environmental monitoring data for air dose rates and concentrations of radionuclides from four stations during the early phase of the accident, from the morning of 12 March to late night 14 March. Major releases of high-concentration plumes during this period, which were not taken into account in Chino et al. (2011), significantly increased the amount of dry deposition“. (p. 1427) They furthermore point out that:
“To determine the total level of airborne 131I concentrations, both the gaseous and particulate fractions of 131I must be accounted for. Sampling gaseous radio-iodine requires activated charcoal traps, which are not implemented in the IMS network, as they are not required for CTBT monitoring (Stoehlker et al., 2011). Therefore, the iodine measurements should be understood as a lower bound, as only the aerosol phase can be collected on particle filters (Winiarek et al., 2012). (p. 1430) Using ratios obtained from European national authorities and the EPA which have some carbon traps and information from Chernobyl and Fukushima, they estimated a ratio of gas to particulate for Iodine 131: “Therefore, a factor of 4 gaseous to particulate fraction seems an appropriate estimate…” (p. 1430). The quotation and the map at the very top of this post are from Christoudias, T and Lelieveld, J (2013) “Modelling the global atmospheric transport and deposition of radionuclides from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident” Atmos. Chem. Phys., 13, 1425–1438, 2013 http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/1425/2013/ doi:10.5194/acp-13-1425-2013 ©Author(s) 2013. CC- Attribution 3.0 License.
Saturday, 14 June 2014
According to both models, the Pribilof Islands would have taken a pretty big hit, and especially so for the Park et. al. (2013) model. However, the Park model shows a larger impact on St. Paul Island than on St. George Island.
Northern Fur Seal Rookery, St. Paul Island, Alaska, 2006, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Mammal Laboratory (cropped) http://access.afsc.noaa.gov/furseal/rookeryimages/
Northern Fur Seals, St. Paul Island (zoom-in)
Female Northern Fur Seal St. Paul Island, NOAA
“The Pribilof Islands and their surrounding sea support a diversity of marine fauna. Best known may be the islands’ northern fur-seal (Callorhinus ursinus) population, constituting just over 50% of the world’s population (Ream 2007, pers. comm.)… Numerous other marine mammals occur in the Pribilof Islands’ region, many being near the northern or southern limits of their ranges (Haley 1986; Hanna 1923; Preble and McAtee 1923, 105–107). Species near their southern limits are the ringed seal (Phoca hispida), bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus), walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens), and bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus). Species near their northern limits are the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), Dall’s porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli), northern giant bottlenose or Baird’s beaked whale (Berardius bairdii), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), and right whale (Eubalaena glacialis). The killer whale (Orcinus orca) occurs both north and south of the Pribilofs, and may be seen feeding on fur seals. Also, occasionally observed near the Pribilofs are the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), minke whale (B. acutorostrata), spotted seal (Phoca largha), ribbon seal (Phoca fasciata), and harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena).” (Emphasis added) http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/noaa_documents/NOS/ORR/TM_NOS_ORR/TM_NOS-ORR_17/HTML/Pribilof_html/Pages/resources_marine_mammals.htm
And, so as it can be seen, these islands which are difficult to even find on a map, because they are small and have so few people on them, are a very important home and crossroads for marine mammals.
Monday, 16 June 2014
It so happens that the Northern Fur Seals on St. Paul and St. George Islands are somewhat studied, though not adequately so, for purposes of understanding a sudden impact, such as Fukushima. Rather, the methodology is more appropriate for long-term trends. Although the US government wastes and misspends almost unlimited amounts of money, they seem unable to pay some of the people living on these islands to sit and watch seals full-time. Rather, the US government workers appear to only count the baby seal pups every other year, even though this would appear one of the easier things to do, as they stay on land (unless of course it is dangerous work to do because of protective father seals, but even still). Annually they count only adult males, which is apparently only ages 7 to 10 years and up. This seems to be because the adult males are mostly land-based and protecting territory. In particular, the breeding males do not eat for 4 months, while they defend the newborn babies (pups) and are very large, so would be easy to spot. The females become breeding age at about 3 to 5 years old. We don’t find records of counts of the female seals, and this would be difficult, as the mothers are spending much time in the water eating, returning intermittently to feed the baby seals. Researchers take blood and tissue samples. They also study seal scat. http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/education/Activities/PDFs/NFS_K-6_Sept2013_L3.pdf Scat is Greek for shit, as opposed to the many better-known meanings of the word scat, such as for chasing cats. However, researchers seem to be only studying what the seals eat, whereas this is a well-known way to evaluate some radionuclides. For instance, near Hanford Nuclear Facility in Washington State, “Higher levels of strontium-90 (a radioactive element) were found in rodent, coyote, and deer scat. This means that certain radionuclides are finding their way into our ecosystem, indicating bio-accumulation in higher organism.” (Citizens Monitoring of Columbia River Radionuclides, June 15, 2005, http://www.whistleblower.org/sites/default/files/RiverFactSheet.pdf) In an interview on Alaskan Public radio, Dr. Dasher, who along with other colleagues from the U. of Alaska and the Northslope Dept. of Wildlife, has raised the most intelligent questions-points about Fukushima’s possible impact on wildlife, stated that they lacked the time, money and resources (e.g. freezer space and personnel) to systematically investigate the presence of radionuclides in animals. In particular, they lack the equipment to test for plutonium. He and/or the interviewer raised the issue of whose responsibility it is to test the offshore areas of the USA for radiation. And that the US National labs are well-equipped to test for radionuclides, whereas Alaska is not. Furthermore, when Fukushima fallout fell on the ice, no one was around to test the ice and subsequently it melted. Thus, what fell on the ice can never really be known.
It is important, and fortunate that Dasher and others are willing and able to even raise important questions about Fukushima’s impacts, considering the past and present state of US academia, in general, and the history of the University of Alaska, in particular. Also, it is better to ask good questions and not get adequate funding, than to get funding and use it to do less than useful research, and to run around misleading people – whether intentionally or unintentionally – as one high profile academic (Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole (WHOI-MIT) has been doing. Buesseler has either allergies or a nervous sniffle. The sniffing seems to start around the time he starts saying things which appear designed to distort facts and confuse people. Buesseler is an expert in plutonium testing in water- in fact wrote his dissertation on it, and even did a stint at Savannah River, South Carolina. But he doesn’t seem to be interested in plutonium now, but rather only in cesium and trying to scare people about bananas. The Cesium 137 from above ground nuclear testing and Chernobyl has started to decline, since it has a half-life of 30 years. Cesium 134 has a half-life of two years – even better to convince people all is ok. But, long-lived radionuclides, like plutonium 239 with a half-life of 24,100 years, are still around. Neptunium 239 with a half-life of 2 days didn’t even go away but became plutonium 239. The reason that the US academic system is full of Buesslers is not only because of private, corporate, funding of even public universities (who depend mostly on grants now for survival), but it has deeper roots in the black-listing of dissenters and government critics during the Cold War. Those who wanted to walk the just path of criticizing the sins of the US government, as well as the sins of Russia, found themselves in hot water. This was true in the UK, at least to an extent, as well.
So, before returning to the NOAA data on the fur seals, let’s look back in history, a history which probably still tells us a lot about the present. The following is the testimony, in another context, from Dr. William Pruitt, who was fired from the University of Alaska and who was forced to emigrate to Canada because he was unable to get further work in the USA:
“Mr. William Pruitt …: I want to tell you a story, and this is a true story. In about 1958, Edward Teller, so-called father of the H-bomb, came to Alaska with a plan, a plan to use his favourite toys and nuclear weapons to blast the harbour in northwestern Alaska by subsurface blasts of six simultaneous blasts on the coast, subsurfaced.
The politicians and the businessmen of Alaska greeted this plan with open arms and delight because this was going to be the greatest thing for the economic salvation of Alaska. Things were going along very well, as far as Teller was concerned, and they decided to have some preblast studies. At that time, I was associate professor of biology at the University of Alaska, and we spent three years working on the Arctic coast in the vicinity of this proposed blast.
From the results of my studies, and others, we concluded that because these blasts were going to be particularly dirty in biological terms, that there was great danger of harm to the lichens, which would be transmitted into the caribou and transmitted from there into wolves and people. We found this also from results of our studies, as well as perusal of some rather obscure European scientific literature. So radio contamination was a very real possibility. When we made this public, there were furious outbursts from the local businessmen and the politicians because we were going against the best interests of the future of Alaska as they saw it.
So great pressure was put on three of us and because at that time the university did not have tenure, everyone was on a year-to-year contract and our contracts were not renewed, as a nice way of saying we were fired. Not only that, but my report was censored by the university before it was submitted to the Atomic Energy Commission, and I was blacklisted from a number of other U.S. universities. That is the reason I immigrated to Canada, and this pointed out to me the absolute necessity for a university to be not only isolated but insulated from any government pressure or any economic or businessman’s pressure at all.
The interests of politicians and businessmen usually are quite different from the interests of a university, and if a university becomes subservient in any way to financial or academic influences or direction from outside, it is really no longer a university, but it is a community college or a trade school. Remember also that a university belongs to a worldwide community of scholars and if a university becomes subject to financial or academic influences or directions from outside, the word will get around and then the university will suffer loss of prestige, loss of good students and loss of good faculty.
Later on–a number of years–it has only been after the Soviet Union collapsed and the Soviet Arctic was opened up, we saw the results of the situation where universities and where researchers were subjected to great pressure and outside influences when we realized and we discovered the gross radioactive contamination that has gone on in the Soviet Arctic. We also found out that Project Chariot was actually an effort by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to break free of the Nevada test site and if Chariot had blown, then they had plans for other nuclear weapons’ blasts and tests in the Alaskan Arctic. Because of the craven subservience of the Canadian government to the U.S. military, such as the matter of cruise missile testing, it is quite clear that the Canadian north would probably be in the same situation today as the Soviet north is …
Mr. Pallister: … do you not see some common interests between the people who are elected and accountable to the people of the jurisdiction and the people who perform the task of administering the programs within the university and the people who instruct at the university, a common view that they may share as far as the goals that they have for the future of the jurisdictions in which they operate?
Mr. Pruitt: One would hope that there would be a community of interest, but nonetheless it is different and this is why tenure and absolute independence of a university is so vitally important because it is a rather fragile thing and it does not really take too much outside influence to make people change their minds. I saw that at the University of Alaska. There were several faculty members who were on the studies with me who succumbed to the pressure of the business interests and the politicians. There were a couple of us who were just stupid enough and pigheaded enough that we did not succumb.
Mr. Pallister: Respecting your past experiences, sir, and the wrongs that have been done to you, in your mind, do you believe, sir–you have said, I think–if universities become subject to financial pressures, they will lose their credibility? What do you say to those who say that a university that is not, to some degree at least, accountable to the financial pressures that the rest of society is accountable for and must respond to, that a university that is immune to those pressures will lose its credibility?
Mr. Pruitt: University is not a factory. It is not a business thing, a business organization; it is a unique thing. It is one of the great advances in the evolution of mankind that could generate an idea of isolating a group of scholars and teachers from outside influence, so that they can go ahead and study and publish and say what the data tells them to say regardless of outside financial pressures. The business community or the politicians may not like it, but if that is the way it is, that is the way it has to be published and it has to be said. This is why you cannot treat a university the same way as you make regulations governing hazardous goods or something like that. It is a unique situation. It has to be treated in an entirely different way than any other aspect of human endeavour.
Mr. Pallister: So just to be sure I am clear on your point, sir, you are saying that the university is a unique entity that should be subject to no one but itself and should be accountable to no one but itself, is that correct?
Mr. Pruitt: That is right. Now it can be within the financial grants that come from government, but once that grant is made, then government, the business community, has no further business of interfering with how the university decides to use it….” (Emphasis added) http://www.gov.mb.ca/hansard/business/hansard/36th_2nd/la_16/la_16.html
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
Northern Fur Seal Pups, by US NOAA
In the late 1940s to early 1950s there were around 2.1 million Northern Fur Seals. Now the population is about half of that. Adult females were killed in great numbers under a program by the US government. Around 300,000 females were killed from 1956 to 1968. One female can have only one pup per year. Not surprisingly, the population was in decline throughout the 1970s. It stabilized briefly around 1980 to the mid 90s, before it started dropping again. http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090115_sealpup.html http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/pinnipeds/northernfurseal.htm
While we have found no documentation mentioning it, it appears clear that the real reason that the females were killed was to test them for radionuclides, just as deer have been used and continue to be used, as animal sentinoles. Seals are mammals and “All female mammals nurse their young with milk“. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammal So, there is seal milk. There’s even been a study of composition of seal milk: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6643805 The US government would have most definitely tested seal milk, just as they tested cow milk. And, if the US government was so desperate as to act as human body snatchers, to test for radionuclides, it is a no-brainer that they would have killed seals to test them, in a heart-beat. There is even currently a tissue bank for northern fur seals.
The above images and below text, regarding fallout from above ground nuclear testing, comes from the US EPA. Some of the same points apply for nuclear accidents. And, for the long-lived radionuclides, the fallout from the above ground testing is still with us today. Some is frozen in Arctic and sub-Arctic ice and permafrost; some is deep in the ocean; some on land. Melting of Arctic ice and permafrost, and mining or otherwise disturbing the ocean, will liberate it back into the environment:
“Detonating nuclear devices above ground can inject large quantities of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The explosion spreads the material from ground level up to very high elevations. Determining the exact type, amount, and fate of the fallout for any particular blast is difficult. It depends on the type of device, time and method of detonation, as well as regional and global weather patterns.
Large particles injected into the atmosphere tend to fall close to the explosion site. Smaller particles and gases are carried higher, likely to remain aloft, and can travel great distances on global air currents. They gradually return to earth as they slowly settle or are captured by falling rain drops.
Contaminants from large atmospheric explosions may remain for years or even decades in the stratosphere (the atmosphere above ground level air up to a height of fifty miles). These contaminants only gradually settle out as small deposits of fallout in the ground-level air (the troposphere) or onto the earth’s surface….
What kind of contamination is in fallout?
Fallout typically contains hundreds of different radionuclides. Some of these persist in the environment for a long time because they have relatively long half-lives. Some have very short half-lives and persist in the environment for only a few minutes or a few years. Some produce high levels of radiation. Both long-lived and highly radioactive materials pose potential human health and environmental risks.
Some of the more important radionuclides detected by EPA’s RadNet include:
RadNet monitoring stations also detect and routinely measure the radiation these radionuclides produce: alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays.
How have people been exposed? What were the effects?
Exposure of people and other living things occurs by various routes or pathways. External or direct exposure comes from small amounts of fallout on the ground. Internal exposure occurs when radioactive particles are inhaled or when they are ingested following uptake by crops and livestock. Radionuclides that emit alpha and beta particles are less of an external exposure threat because they don’t travel very far in the atmosphere. Alpha particles can be stopped by the dead cells on the skin’s surface. Gamma rays travel much farther in the atmosphere and can penetrate the body.
Inhaled or ingested radionuclides continue to emit radiation directly to living tissue, increasing the risk of adverse health effects. The most notable effect is cancer resulting from damage to DNA in the cells. The health risks from fallout have been characterized in many studies.” http://www.epa.gov/radiation/rert/nuclearblast.html (Emphasis added)
Around 1995 to 2004, the seal pup population on St. George Island, Alaska, was dropping. Then, it had stabilized and started growing slightly around 2004 to 2010. As the adult males counted are 7 years old and older, the population of adult males should have been growing and not shrinking starting around 2011. However, whereas in 2008 to 2010, the population of adult males who were pups in 2001-2003 grew, starting from 2011, when the population should have started growing, it did not. Rather, while the number of adult males on St. George increased by 29% from 2008 to 2010, from 2011 to 2013 it decreased by minus 4.4%. Fukushima occurred in March and the counts take place in the summer. Furthermore, the pup birth estimate for St. George was 10% less in 2012 than in 2010 (there are no 2011 or 2013 counts).
From 2008 to 2009 the number of adult males on St. George (aged 7 and up) increased by 18%; from 2009 to 2010 by 10%; from 2010 to 2011, counted a few months after Fukushima, only 5%. From 2011 to 2012 there was a 2.4% decline and from 2012 to 2013 a 2% decline. Additionally, the number of adult males counted in 2010 was 29% greater than 2008, whereas the numbers counted in 2013 were 4.4% less than in 2011.
For neighboring St. Paul Island, from 2008 to 2009 there was an increase in adult males of 2%; in 2010 there were 5.7% fewer than in 2009; in 2011 there were 1.8% more than 2010. Then, abruptly, in 2012 the adult male population dropped by 22 percent, as compared to 2011. However, in 2013 there were 12 percent more males than in 2012. Even still, there were 12.6% fewer adult males in 2013 compared to 2011. This is compared to a decrease of 3.9% between 2008 and 2010. On the other hand, estimated pups born in St. Paul in 2012 was 2.46% greater than in 2010. This contrasts greatly with St. George where 10% fewer were estimated born in 2012. Probably due both to lack of manpower and not wanting to disturb the seals, the pups are counted only every other year. The total number of adult males counted on the Pribilof Islands (St. George and St. Paul combined) in 2012 decreased by 18.5% from 10,922 in 2011 to 8,900 in 2012. The original population numbers, and all sorts of other information about Northern Fur Seals, is found here: http://www.afsc.noaa.gov/nmml/species/species_nfs.php (The 300,000 estimate for females killed comes from p.3 of “A Tale of Two Stocks: Studies of Northern Fur Seals Breeding at the Northern and Southern Extent of the Range“, by Sharon R. Melin et. al. The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) Quarterly Report is produced by the Center’s Communications Program. http://www.afsc.noaa.gov )
Saturday, 21 June 2014
In an undated, but timeless, “Commentary” piece, in “Ecology and Northern Development“, Ian McTaggart Cowan points out that in the 1950s the Caribou population collapsed to a low point of only 10 to 20 percent of the primitive herd. Furthermore, he says: “Pruitt has shown that the arctic caribou acquire a heavier load of radioactive fallout products than any other known species…” http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic22-1-3.pdf (Caribou are Reindeer)
The first Nuclear Bombs were used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan in August of 1945. This was followed by programs of above ground nuclear bomb “testing”. Based on the US EPA graph, posted last time, the first US “test” was in 1951, followed by an approximate 15 megaton test in 1952, then the first Russian (USSR) test in 1953. The amounts increased with US 50 megatons in 1954, and in 1958 or 59 approximately 50 US megatons and 15 megatons by Russia and some by the UK. In 1961 there were 100 megatons by Russia alone, and in 1962 160 megatons combined yield of nuclear blasts, with approximately 125 megatons by Russia (USSR). France also did above ground testing of nuclear bombs. So, one must wonder if this was the reason for the Caribou decline noted by Cowan?
Importantly, Cowan goes on to elaborate the fallacy of dilution: “In the Far North where the number of polluters is small and the cost of better planning correspondingly low, we must face the reality that the assumption of dilution, where biologically active wastes are at issue, is frequently false. The assumption is an attractive one. It seems so obvious that if a relatively small amount of a biologically active toxicant is discharged into a large body of water it will rapidly dilute below the level of toxicity.” http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic22-1-3.pdf (Emphasis our own)
However, as he notes, while the assumption of dilution is attractive, it is false and actually concentration in the body often follows instead: “The evidence from study of radioactive wastes (Woodwell 1968) and from DDT is that the assumption is false and that biological concentration is a frequent sequel. Unfortunately this false assumption is so much part of our philosophy that we accept its corollary, the right to pollute until detailed scientific proof of damage to man is produced. It would be far more valid to adopt here the principle behind the licensing of drugs for use on man – that permission be refused until there is detailed scientific proof that the pollutant will do no damage to the biosystem… Mining is one of our most productive uses of the natural resources of the Far North. In most instances it is an activity with high waste residues.” http://pubs.aina.ucalgary.ca/arctic/Arctic22-1-3.pdf (Emphasis added)
What is really frightening is the dilution as solution is being used by the nuclear industry today, even though research has long shown the dangers of ionizing radiation. It is being used now on a daily basis to excuse pollution by nuclear power plants and other facilities, as well as in catastrophic situations like Fukushima. It is being used in dilute-disperse and dump into public landfill policies, where long lived, often bio accumulative, radionuclides are left, using the lie that it doesn’t matter because they are diluted to low levels (e.g. Lillyhall, Cumbria, UK; Tennessee, USA). This includes dangerous radionuclides like plutonium and americium. Labs are allowed to dump radionuclides into drains, using the same idea (at least in the US and UK). Based on the reference dates, Cowan’s article was probably written in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Did everyone know better then? Perhaps. But, it is certain that we know better now.
And, yet coal burning plants and, more dangerously still, nuclear facilities consider it their right to pollute the World Public Commons. Atmospheric Nuclear Testing, Chernobyl and Fukushima have all proven that everyone and everything must live, eat and breathe in a World Public Commons. By what right do corporations pollute this commons? On a more microscopic level, people consider it their right to pollute their neighbor’s fresh air with their chimneys or cigarette smoke. Good technology existed to filter coal burning plants (and chimneys, in general) in the 1970s. Better technology exists today. While nuclear power plants need to better filter emissions, the wastes from the filters will mostly have to be stored. So, we just can NOT continue to use nuclear! Tritium, which they claim they cannot filter, and they aren’t even trying at Fukushima or most nuclear power plants, even though the technology has long been there, has a half-life of 12.3 years. To reduce the amount of tritium to less than 1% will take 86 years and to get it to essentially zero will take 197 years. It is one of the shorter lived radionuclides. So, it should be clear that dilution is NOT the solution! Note that the number of years to reach 0.78% of the original quantity is Half Life x 7; half-life x 16 years brings it to 0.0015%. We often hear 10 years as a rule of thumb. As an example of a long lived radionuclide: iodine 129, emitted in routine operations of nuclear power plants and emitted world-wide from the Fukushima accident has a half life of 15.7 Million Years. Thus it takes 110 million years to reach 0.78%; 251 million years to reach 0.0015% of the original quantity.
Tritium has been associated with prostate cancer in UK nuclear workers (See “Radiation Workers Risk Prostate Cancer“, New Scientist, 22 Aug., 1985). It is bound with water as tritiated water. Some assure us that it’s ok because it disperses radiation evenly in the body! Do you feel better? Even wikipedia, which is increasingly contaminated by the pro-nuclear lobby noted that: “Tritium is potentially dangerous if inhaled or ingested. It can combine with oxygen to form tritiated water molecules, and those can be absorbed through pores in the skin.” (accessed 12 March 2014: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium )
In 1996, according to the US Los Alamos Lab:
“The Tritium Systems Test Assembly group at Los Alamos has developed a Palladium Membrane Reactor/Isotope Separation System (PMR/ISS) to treat tritiated water. A waste-free effluent is produced composed of CO and CO2 which can be directly stacked to the environment. It is simple to operate and reliable using well-established technologies (palladium permeator and catalytic reactor, and cryogenic distillation). Tritium is recovered for storage and recycle with a recovery efficiency of 99.999999%.” http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/lib-www/la-pubs/00326809.pdf
There are tritium processing plants, which allow the recovery of Helium 3, which is worth between $100 and $2,000 per liter. They can’t take care of it with that price?
“Helium-3 Recovery – Tritium radioactively decays to helium-3, which has become a precious commodity. One reason for the tremendous growth in demand for helium-3 is its use in neutron detection equipment that is being installed all over the world to protect our nation and its allies from terrorism. SRTE recovers, purifies, and bottles this valuable byproduct of tritium, and is the sole source of helium-3 gas in the United States.” http://www.srs.gov/general/news/factsheets/tritium_esrs.pdf
“Current US industrial consumption of helium-3 is approximately 60,000 liters (approximately 8 kg) per year; cost at auction has typically been approximately $100/liter although increasing demand has raised prices to as much as $2,000/liter in recent years.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3
Monday, 23 June 2014
Cowan has actually almost quoted from George Woodwell’s (1969) article. Woodwell founded Woods Hole Research Center in 1985, and served on the board until 2012. In a strange twist of history, in the wake of Fukushima, Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Research Institute, seems to be promoting dilution as the solution, an idea so criticized by both Cowan and Woodwell almost half a century ago! While WHRC and WHOI are both located in Woods Hole, Massaschusetts, it is unclear if they have any relationship. WHOI is actually much older than WHRC. While Buesseler seems to reassure everyone that dilution of radionuclides in the Pacific makes everything ok (and Buesseler has to know better from is Ph.D research on plutonium), Woodwell started warning half a century ago of the dangers of this mentality: “…the attitudes that allowed worldwide contamination of the earth with radioactivity… The most important assumption that led to the problem of radioactivity is the assumption of dilution … so thoroughly ingrained is this philosophy that…the right to pollute, has become a … major philosophical and …legal assumption, … It is one of the spectacular contradictions of our time that in the age of science we should be entering blindly on a thousand, unplanned, uncontrolled, unmonitored, unguided, largely unrestrained, and totally unscientific experiment with the whole world as the subject and survival at hazard.
“The assumption of dilution, so easy to make, so cheap, so comforting, so much a part of human nature, is a trap. Biologically active materials released into the biosphere travel in patterns that are surprisingly well-known.”
He furthermore notes that after the 1954 “Castle series” of US nuclear weapons tests, “for several months tuna caught in the Pacific and landed in Japan were sufficiently radioactive that authorities would not allow them to be sold“. (“Radioactivity and Fallout: The Model Pollution“, by George M. Woodwell, BioScience, Vol. 19, No. 10, Oct., 1969, pp. 884-887) In 1969, above ground nuclear weapons testing by the US and Russia had ended, and there were few nuclear power plants. This may be why Woodwell appears more concerned, in this article, about the dangers of DDT, which were still ongoing. At the time he was still working for the US Brookhaven lab: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brookhaven_National_Laboratory
Sixty years ago, after the return home of Japanese fisherman, who had been too close to the March 1954 US nuclear test, mentioned above by Woodwell, a Japanese professor discovered that a tuna in Japan measured 60,000 counts per minute on his Geiger counter, i.e. 1,000 Becquerels. Was this for the entire fish? If it were a 250 kg tuna then that would be 4 Bq per kilogram, well under the limit today for Japan of 100 Bq per kilogram. If the tuna were 1,000 Bq per kilogram then it would be “safe” for Canada, Australia and well under the limit for the US. The US FDA has standards for radiocesium set at a whopping 1,200 Bq/kg, compared to Europe’s 600 Bq/kg. The US has a 1,532 Bq/kg standard for combined radionuclides, compared to Japan’s 100 Bq/kg. For babies and milk Japan allows 50 Bq/kg and for water 10 Bq/kg. Thus, as we’ve previously noted, currently the US allows 15 times more radiation in its food than Japan’s. It allows 31 times the radiation for milk-baby food, than Japan! Europe and Canada permit less radiation for baby food-milk, than other foods. Not so for the US, which permits the same radiation in food for everyone. Australia and Canada seem to have maximums of 1,000 Bq/kg, although it is unclear if this is all radionuclides or only radiocaesium. These “standards” are really supposed to be maximums or limits, but everyone knows how maximums-limits are treated. See more at: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/radioactive-reindeer-chernobyl-guinea-pigs-part-vii-of-a-series/
As can be seen, radioactive fish-excess radiation, in 1954, occurred along the southeastern coast of Japan, also due east, and along the east coast of Taiwan, the Philippines, and along the north coast of New Guinea:
Red dots indicated where contaminated fish were caught or where the sea was found to be excessively radioactive. Map based on Google maps and a simplified version of the Y. Nishiwaki map found in S. Sevitt, “The Bombs,” The Lancet, July 23, 1955, pp. 199-201 (The Nishiwaki map is found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo
In those days people had common sense, so in Japan “Fear swept through the city… and desperate- people stopped buying fish“. Subsequently, the US issued a new danger area, which included approximately 400,000 square miles around the Pacific nuclear test site, or eight times what they had originally said. Any boats fishing or passing through the area had to be inspected: “The ports specified were Shiogama, Shimizu on the island of Shikoku, Yaizu, Tokyo, and Misaki, the great tuna center near Tokyo“. Inspection stations were established by Japan to “stem the rising hysteria over the contamination of the fish supply. There was no doubt something drastic had to be done to assure the Japanese people that they were not being poisoned. Fish-dealers were having a hard time convincing customers that their wares were not radioactive… When it became known that fish had been banned from the Emperor’s diet, people became even more worried…some fish dealers were forced into bankruptcy…” The US Atomic Energy Commission finally stated that “The opinion of the American Energy Commission scientific staff based on long-term studies of fish in the presence of radioactivity is that there is negligible hazard, if any, in the consumption of fish caught in the Pacific Ocean outside the immediate test area subsequent to tests….Any radioactivity collected in the test area would become harmless within a few miles….and completely undetectable within 500 miles or less….” One Japanese professor stated on the radio that “the radioactivity we have detected was certainly not negligible.” Furthermore, “The official AEC reassurance that fish could be eaten safety did not stem the rising tide of fish contaminations in Japan, nor did it restore confidence among buyers in fish markets… Japanese officials had issued a temporary danger level corresponding to 100 counts per minute for a Geiger counter held four inches away from the fish. So far as the Japanese people were concerned, the numerical value of 100 was not too important. They looked upon the situation in that either the fish was radioactive or it was non-radioactive….” http://www1.american.edu/ted/lucky.htm (Emphasis added) According to The Asahi Shimbun “EDITORIAL: 60 years after the H-bomb test on Bikini Atoll, inhuman nature continues“, March 03, 2014, “…official documents that have been declassified in recent years revealed behind-the-scenes diplomatic maneuverings by the United States … Washington, for example, applied pressure on Japan to halt an investigation into contaminated tuna….” (The Asahi Shimbun, March 1, Read the editorial here: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201403030034)
Wednesday 25 June 2014
References here; Author has released it to public domain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Radiocarbon_bomb_spike.svg
Paul Edwards (2012) says that “Planners for the earliest, relatively small nuclear weapons tests did not expect fallout to spread far. Yet soon after the Trinity nuclear test held in New Mexico, cornstalks from fields more than 1,000 miles away contained enough radioactivity to ruin x-ray film interleaved with paper made from those cornstalks (Eisenbud et al., 1995). As bombs grew larger and test shots took place at higher altitudes over the years, fallout spread farther. Facing problems with its film stock, the Eastman Kodak Company installed air filters and radiation detectors at its factory in Rochester, New York (Harley, 1976). In 1951, the company threatened to hold the Atomic Energy Commission liable for fallout-damaged film products(Eisenbud, 1994)… Thermonuclear tests, which launched debris clouds into the stratosphere, injected large amounts of excess radiocarbon nearly doubling the atmospheric concentration of this material by the time aboveground testing ended in 1963 … bomb radiocarbon had spread from the Marshall Islands test site to higher latitudes both north and south of the equator. Other, similar studies confirmed that fallout spread throughout the stratosphere globally within about two years (Broecker and Walton, 1959; Rafter and Fergusson, 1957)“.(Edwards, pp, 29-31, Emphasis added) Furthermore, according to Edwards (2012), “the nuclear damage estimates developed by military researchers took virtually no account of the dust, fire, and smoke effects of nuclear blasts.” Rather, the study of aerosols: dust, sulfuric acid, soot, and other airborne particles came from Climatology which “had long suspected that large volcanic eruptions cooled the global atmosphere (by reflecting solar radiation back into space).” However, systematic research on this only began in the 1960s (presumably due to computers). By 1970 Hubert Lamb had created a “dust veil index’, based on estimates of major volcanic eruptions. He and many others used the index to calculate the cooling effects of volcanoes (Lamb, 1970)” (Edwards, pp. 34-35, Emphasis added.) (“Entangled histories: Climate science and nuclear weapons research“, Paul N. Edwards, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 68(4), 2012, Full article available here: http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/Edwards2012EntangledHistoriesBAS.pdf)
Thursday, 26 June 2014
Bikini to Japan distance
Castle Bravo Test – 15 Mt at Bikini, Marshall Island, Pacific. Russian Tsar Bomba was over 3 x bigger – 50 Mt, in the Arctic.
The 15 Megaton Castle Bravo test, which first impacted the Japanese fisherman and fish, was only the beginning of a series set off through May and which, in total, yielded an equivalent of about 48 Megaton of TNT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Castle
The next largest US series totaled about 38 Megatons, based on the EPA chart that we posted. It seems to have been in 1958: http://fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/nuclear/209chron.pdf (For those who wish to itemize list at the fas link). “Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first United States test of a dry fuel, hydrogen bomb, detonated on March 1, 1954, at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States (and just under one-third the energy of the Tsar Bomba, the most powerful device ever detonated), with a yield of 15 megatons of TNT. That yield, far exceeding the expected yield of 4 to 8 megatons (6 Mt predicted), combined with other factors, led to the most significant accidental radioactive contamination ever caused by the United States.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo (Emphasis added)
As can be seen on the EPA graph, Russia (USSR) set off about 100 Megatons in 1961 and 127 in 1962. In total, “The Soviets set off 214 nuclear bombs in the open air between 1949 and 1962, when the United Nations banned atmospheric tests worldwide. The billions of radioactive particles released into the air exposed countless people to extremely mutagenic and carcinogenic materials, resulting in a myriad of deleterious genetic maladies and deformities. The majority of these tests took place at the Semipalatinsk Test Site, or STS, located in northeast Kazakhstan. The testing at STS alone exposed hundreds of thousands of Kazakh citizens to the harmful effects, and the site is continues to be one of the most highly irradiated places on the planet. When the earliest tests were being conducted, even the scientists had only a poor understanding of the medium and long term effects of radiation exposure. In fact, the STS was chosen as the primary site for open air testing precisely because the Soviets were curious about the potential for lasting harm that their weapons held.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_atomic_bomb_project
Tsar Bomba site on Novaya Zemlya. It is clear why the reindeer in Finland and also Scandinavia were contaminated from these tests. The Greenpeace oil platform protest was in the Pechora sea which borders on Novaya Zemlya. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prirazlomnoye_field
The LARGEST Russian Bombs were set off in the Arctic at Novaya Zemlya and the largest US bombs at Bikini and Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands (Pacific). http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nuclear_tests The largest ever was the Russian Tsar Bomba at about 50 Mt: “The Tsar Bomba’s fireball, about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) in diameter, was prevented from touching the ground by the shock wave, but nearly reached the 10.5 kilometres (6.5 mi) altitude of the deploying Tu-95 bomber… The Tsar Bomba was a three-stage Teller–Ulam design Lithium bomb with a yield of 50 to 58 megatons of TNT (210 to 240 PJ). This is equivalent to about 1,350–1,570 times the combined power of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 10 times the combined power of all the conventional explosives used in World War II, or one quarter of the estimated yield of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, and 10% of the combined yield of all nuclear tests to date… The Tsar Bomba is the single most physically powerful device ever used by mankind. By contrast, the largest weapon ever produced by the United States, the now-decommissioned B41, had a predicted maximum yield of 25 megatonnes of TNT (100 PJ), and the largest nuclear device ever tested by the United States (Castle Bravo) yielded 15 megatonnes of TNT (63 PJ), due to an unexpectedly high involvement of lithium-7 in the fusion reaction; the preliminary prediction for the yield was from 4 to 6 megatonnes of TNT (17 to 25 PJ). The largest weapons deployed by the Soviet Union were also around 25 megatonnes of TNT (100 PJ), as in the SS-18 Mod. 3 ICBM warheads…” For the Tsar Bomba: “Much of its high-yield destructiveness was inefficiently radiated upwards into space“. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba
Saturday, 28 June 2014
1888 lithograph of the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, Volcano, Indonesia
Plate 1, ‘The eruption of Krakatoa, and subsequent phenomena. Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society’, London, Trubner & Co., 1888.
Tsar Bomba was one quarter (25%) of the estimated yield of the 1883 eruption of Kraktoa and 10% of the combined yield of all nuclear tests to that date. Tsar Bomba was also not the last above ground test. So, the above ground nuclear tests had a combined yield over 2 1/2 times as big as Kraktoa. See also: http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/msh/comparisons.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer
In the year following the eruption of Kraktoa, “average Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures fell by as much as 1.2 °C (2.2 °F). Weather patterns continued to be chaotic for years, and temperatures did not return to normal until 1888. The record rainfall that hit Southern California during the ‘water year’ from July 1883 to June 1884 – Los Angeles received 38.18 inches (969.8 mm) and San Diego 25.97 inches (659.6 mm) – has been attributed to the Krakatoa eruption. There was no El Niño during that period as is normal when heavy rain occurs in Southern California, but many scientists doubt this proposed causal relationship. The eruption injected an unusually large amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas high into the stratosphere, which was subsequently transported by high level winds all over the planet. This led to a global increase in sulfuric acid (H2SO4) concentration in high level cirrus clouds. The resulting increase in cloud reflectivity (or albedo) would reflect more incoming light from the sun than usual, and cool the entire planet until the suspended sulfur fell to the ground as acid precipitation. The eruption darkened the sky worldwide for years afterward,… Weather watchers of the time tracked and mapped the effects on the sky. They labeled the phenomenon the ‘equatorial smoke stream’. This was the first identification of what is known today as the jet stream.” (Emphasis added) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1883_eruption_of_Krakatoa
Jet Stream – Great Circle Route, Public Domain, via wikimedia
Jet Stream Variation with El Niño-La Niña, NOAA
In 2011, Yoshiaki Fujii, of Hokkaido University, published a study suggesting “that the cause of the stagnation in global warming in the mid 20th century was the atmospheric nuclear explosions detonated between 1945 and 1980. The estimated GST [Global Surface Temperature] drop due to fine dust from the actual atmospheric nuclear explosions based on the published simulation… Atmospheric nuclear explosions can be regarded as full-scale in situ tests for nuclear winter. The non-negligible amount of GST drop from the actual atmospheric explosions suggests that nuclear winter is not just a theory but has actually occurred, albeit on a small scale.” (Emphasis our own) From abstract of “The role of atmospheric nuclear explosions on the stagnation of global warming in the mid 20th century,” by Yoshiaki Fujii,
Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, April 2011, Vol.73(5):643–652 Some related graphs and charts may be found here: http://eprints.lib.hokudai.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2115/44918/2/FujiiFigAuthorVersion.pdf Of related interest: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/paper/gistemp2010_draft0803.pdf
(We are slowly but surely working our way back to Alaskan Reindeer-Caribou with this…)
Monday, 30 June 2014
Bikini, Marshall Islands to St. Matthew Island, Alaska
Novaya Zemlya to St. Matthew Island Alaska Distance
(US) Marine Safety Info,, National Geospatial Intel http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/StaticFiles/NAV_PUBS/APN/Chapt-32.pdf
“Figure 30.4: Schematic of mean circulation in the upper 40 m over the basin and shelf (from Stabeno et al., 1999). The arrows with large heads represent currents with mean speeds >50 cm s. The Alaskan Stream, Aleutian North Slope Current (ANSC), Bering Slope Current (BSC) and Kamchatka Current are indicated. Depth contours indicate 1000 m isobath and in the Bering Sea the 200 m isobath“. (Names of Islands added for clarity. Otherwise, from Stabeno et al. “Physical forcing of ecosystem dynamics on the Bering Sea Shelf” http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/stab2529/features.shtml
(We added Amchitka Island, AK, because US underground nuclear testing took place there and there have been concerns about possible leaks-research done).
We have talked of wind currents, but failed to mention ocean currents, although we have mentioned them elsewhere. It is important to note that these are complex topics, which is why there are professionals getting degrees in these fields. There are various wind and water currents, according to height and depth, for example, but also vertical mixing. While it is easy to see how ocean currents, along with winds, contributed to fallout from the Bikini tests arriving in Japan (and even to Alaska), or how easily Fukushima fallout, and radioactive water dumped by TEPCO could arrive in California, it is less easy to see the role of currents in moving fallout from Novaya Zemlya to Alaska. But, however it got there, fallout arrived in both Alaska and Canada from Novaya Zemlya. According to Gizewski (1993), Tsar Bomba was equivalent to 58 Megatons, rather than 50 Megatons, and thus almost 4 times bigger than the largest US test, Castle Bravo: “During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Novaya Zemlya served as Moscow’s test centre and was the site of some of the world’s largest test explosions, including the detonation of a 58-megaton multi-stage thermonuclear device off the coast on 30 October 1961. Although the site accounts for only 25% of all USSR testing, the aggregate yield of tests at Novaya Zemlya is estimated at 273 megatons, roughly 94% of the total megatonnage yield for all Soviet tests.
Testing on Novaya Zemlya represents the greatest single source of artificial (i.e., man-made) radioactive contamination in the Arctic. From 1958 to 1962, the large number of highyield atmospheric tests on the islands resulted in radioactive contamination not only on Russian territory but also in Alaska and northern Canada. In fact, fallout from all past atmospheric weapons testing ils still a major source of plutonium isotopes in the arctic seas.” http://www.carc.org/pubs/v21no4/military.htm (Emphasis added) Entire article: “Military Activity and Environmental Security: The Case of Radioactivity in the Arctic“, by Peter Gizewski, Published by the Canadian Arctic Resources Committee, Volume 21, Number 4, Winter 1993-94
Evolution of St. Matthew Island’s reindeer population CC BY-SA 3.0
By Flappiefh via wikimedia (translated from French): 1944, 29 reindeer; 1957, 1350 reindeer; 1960, 6000 reindeer; 1966, 42 reindeer (collapse of the population); 1980, no reindeer (disparition) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Evolution_of_St._Matthew_Island%27s_reindeer_population.svg
The Reindeer of St. Matthews have long been considered an example of overpopulation and the associated (food) resource depletion (lichen). There is certainly something relevant to be learned from that idea. If there were zero population growth for humans (i.e. only replacement or two children per couple), then we probably wouldn’t have to be worried about nuclear power, global warming, etc. Why does the economy need to grow and provide new jobs? Because population increases. It is a pyramid scheme; a vicious circle, and it is the major reason why it is difficult to have a sustainable world. India, for instance, grows by about 3 new Switzerlands in population per year. More recently, it has been decided that the reindeer died of a particularly hard winter, perhaps in conjunction with overpopulation. But, why was the winter unusually hard? Could it be from a mini-nuclear winter, proposed recently by Fujii (2011)? As no one wants to raise the possible relationship between Fukushima and animal illnesses or weather, today, apparently no one has raised the obvious question regarding the St. Matthew Reindeer. And, indeed these are complex issues. The world is multivariate, multi-causal, so it is difficult to prove causation. But, if no one even asks the question, that is a problem. If no one asks, they certainly don’t find.
“In 1944, 29 reindeer were introduced to the island by the United States Coast Guard to provide an emergency food source. The coast guard abandoned the island a few years later, leaving the reindeer. Subsequently, the reindeer population rose to about 6,000 by 1963 and then died off in the next two years to 42 animals. A scientific study attributed the population crash to the limited food supply in interaction with climatic factors (the winter of 1963–64 was exceptionally severe in the region). By the 1980s, the reindeer population had completely died out.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Matthew_Island Rozell (2010) informs us that in summer of 1966 the only remaining male had abnormal antlers, so was probably unable to reproduce. See: “Bitter weather may have wiped out reindeer“, by Ned Rozell, January 08, 2010
http://www.iab.uaf.edu/news/iitn_pdfs/168.pdf And, why does no one ask the most obvious question about them? Recall that lichen take up a lot of radionuclides, such as cesium. And, it takes Cesium 137, for instance, about 2 years to enter steady state into the system. Strontium is taken up by antlers.
Deer and Reindeer are considered animal sentinels by governments and the nuclear industry (often the same).
While Wikipedia, and other articles, say that the reindeer overpopulated and died because they had no predators, polar bears will eat caribou-reindeer and Wikipedia states: “Presently, arctic foxes and insular voles are the only mammals resident on the island, though polar bears occasionally visit via pack ice. Notably, St. Matthew Island represents the southern limit of the North American range of polar bears.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Matthew_Island In a cold winter, there should have been more ice for the polar bears. Arctic Fox also eat a lot of reindeer meat, though they probably don’t kill them, except perhaps sick ones or babies.
Wednesday, 2 July 2014
A recently published paper found that male bird fertility declined with increased radiation levels: “The observed negative effect of radiation on reproductive traits in birds at the individual levels may help explain the observed decline in wild bird populations in the most contaminated areas in Chernobyl … shows how external environmental perturbations could impair traits that are crucial for reproductive success and hence fitness“. (Møller AP, Bonisoli-Alquati A, Mousseau TA, Rudolfsen G (2014) Aspermy, Sperm Quality and Radiation in Chernobyl Birds. PLoS ONE 9(6): e100296. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100296) (Read it and more here: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/radiations-negative-impact-on-bird-reproduction-at-chernobyl/_
Tiller et. al. (1997) found: “Monitoring mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) on a former plutonium production site along the Columbia River at the Hanford Site, Washington (USA) revealed 27 (23%) of 116 adult males had unusually shaped, velvet-covered antlers and abnormally developed testicles. We captured 32 males to examine age-class differences and the ratio of affected to unaffected deer and determine whether affected testicles were atrophic or hypoplastic. We found testicular atrophy in most deer with velvet-covered antlers, primarily in animals older than 5 yr. Deer had marked to extreme stages of testicular atrophy, indicating permanent sterility. Decreased serum levels of testosterone and compensatory increased levels of luteininzing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone were detected in all affected males; thus, the gondopituitary hormonal pathway may have responded to abnormally low levels of testosterone in the affected animals… Testicular degeneration generally exceeded that observed with nutritional disorders and poisons in domestic species. Also, severity of the atrophy and apparent lack of other affected tissues suggested that radiation may not be responsible. Testicular atrophy in mule deer has been reported elsewhere; however, neither prevalence has been as high nor or occurrence as well confined to a specific geographical area, as that observed at the Hanford Site. Furthermore, no physiological or age-related influences were described. Documenting the status of such variables and examining their relationships to this phenomenon is a crucial step in understanding the reproductive capacity of a wild deer population.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9249686
“Testicular atrophy in a mule deer population“. Tiller BL, Dagle GE, Cadwell LL., J Wildl Dis. 1997 Jul;33(3):420-9. Note that they state that radiation MAY NOT be to blame, because they say other tissues weren’t affected by radiation. What does this mean? Other disease may come later, or not at all, if the deer are killed and eaten first by predators! In this Hanford case it must clearly be from the radiation! Recall that radiation also impacts immunity. And, isn’t it really necessary now to wonder if radioactive fallout didn’t play a role in the demise of the St. Matthew deer?
Saturday 5 July 2014
The case of the St. Matthew deer shows us that when the various researchers say that these animals are and have been under various stressors, and that when researchers speak of the complexity of the case, they aren’t lying. That being said, more focus needs to be placed on the impacts, not only of Fukushima, but Fukushima in combination with historic fallout from nuclear weapons testing. Also, of other sources of radioactive contamination (e.g. nuclear facilities, dumped nuclear waste, and submarines). This is all the more true with the warming of the arctic which may allow otherwise frozen radionuclides to travel more quickly in the environment.
Probably the most interesting web site is the Native Alaskan LEO monitoring web site. It has google maps of findings and events, which they consider unusual and sometimes of potential danger to their traditional lifestyles. Unfortunately, their findings raise more questions than can be answered. One thing which comes clearly through on the reports is the problems created by warming and permafrost melting, the most visually astounding being a buckled airport runway photo. There are, of course, the sick and dead marine mammals and fish and birds. There appear to be many sightings of previously unseen insects and/or large numbers of insects. The web site linking to the LEO maps is here: http://www.anthc.org/chs/ces/climate/leo/ While the large numbers of insects could be simply reflective of global warming, they may reflect other things like fewer birds, less resistance by plants, genetic mutations. These can be related to radiation. In fact, somewhere we recently read something discussing an increase of insects of the pest variety related to radiation, but are unable to find the reference article. In the Pacific Northwest birds with deformed beaks have been reported apparently since prior to Fukushima, and one can suspect Hanford, although it may be caused by other sorts of contaminants, or a combination.
There are four very old nuclear reactors at the Bilibino, Chukotka, Russia. They are light-water-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors built in 1973, 75, 76. “The EGP-6 reactors are a scaled down version of the RBMK reactor design. Notably, these reactors along with the RBMK designs are some of the few active reactors which still use ordinary (light) water cooled graphite as a neutron moderator. The only operating reactors of this type exist at the Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant.” RBMK is the type used at Chernobyl. (Emphasis added) http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrale_nucléaire_de_Bilibino http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilibino_Nuclear_Power_Plant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EGP-6 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBMK
“Bilibino NPP was built beyond the polar circle, in an area covered by permafrost, in Chukotka Autonomous District… As permafrost melts, even partial thawing can cause thermokarst to appear – very irregular surfaces of marshy hollows and small hummocks formed as a result of thawing ice-rich permafrost…” [ In other words, buckling and sinkholes!] “Bilibino production premises are located just 3.5 kilometres east of the city limits of the town of Bilibino. The 2009 yearly report published by Rostekhnadzor, the Russian Federal Service for Ecological, Technological, and Atomic Supervision …. says last year, Bilibino NPP’s emissions amounted to more discharges of radioactive inert gases (including Krypton 85) per one unit of power than those of any other of the ten nuclear power plants in operation in Russia. Running on a combined heat-producing capacity of 250 megawatts that its four reactor units provide, Bilibino NPP emitted 361.1 terabecquerels in radioactive inert gases into the surrounding atmosphere.” [That is 361 trillion becquerels or radioactive emissions per second. ] “By comparison, Kursk and Leningrad nuclear power plants, both fifty times as powerful as Bilibino, and each, too, employing graphite-moderated reactors with a combined heat capacity of 12,800 megawatts, reported much lower levels of radioactive inert gas emissions in 2009: 297.3 terabecquerels and 252.4 terabecquerels, respectively./ Needless to say, the immediate ‘consumers’ of Bilibino’s radioactive emissions were, depending on wind direction, either the Chukotka environment or residents of the nearby town of Bilibino.” (Emphasis added) (“Glitching safety system at Russia’s aged Bilibino NPP causes emergency reactor shutdown” Published on November 9, 2010 by Bellona Complete article here: http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/nuclear-issues-in-ex-soviet-republics/2010-11-glitching-safety-system-at-russias-aged-bilibino-npp-causes-emergency-reactor-shutdown) What else is it leaking? How much radioiodine? How much trititum? This site includes radioactive waste storages and nuclear material storage facilities, according to an Executive Order No. 610-r dated April 23, 2012, “List of Nuclear Facilities to be Subject to the Regime of Permanent State Supervison,” by President Putin. According to the New York Times, in 1987, permafrost was already a construction issue! http://www.nytimes.com/1987/04/20/world/bilibino-journal-what-price-nuclear-power-in-siberia-it-s-high.html According to the US gov “Several features of the Bilibino reactors cause concern for nuclear safety experts. The Bilibino reactors are not surrounded by a containment structure such as those used in Western designs, but simply by building walls. Also, they may be prone to reactor cavity over-pressurization in the event of a multiple fuel channel rupture… All low-level and high-level waste is kept onsite, the latter being kept in stainless steel-lined concrete tanks“. http://insp.pnnl.gov/-profiles-bilibino-bi_history.htm (Emphasis added) “At Bilibino, solid waste is stored without processing. As of October 1996, the liquid waste storage facility was 70-85 percent full; the solid waste storage facility was 65-85 percent full.” (“Radioaktivnyye otkhody AES,” Energiya: ekonomika, tekhnika i ekologiya“, October 1996, pp. 32-33). See more here: http://archive. today/lHnDq Wonder where that liquid waste and solid waste went? After around 20 years of operations it was approximately 70% full which would mean now approximately 140% full. Touring around the google map there are some strange looking things – hard to know what is what.
Recall the sick seals reported at Wrangel Island. Wrangel Island is marked on US Unusual Mortality Event maps. “Nikita Ovsyanikov, Russian Academy of Sciences, March 2012: Almost all diseased seals found on Wrangel Island beaches were only partially consumed by polar bears. [It] is very different from how they eat normal carcasses […]” http://enenews.com/reports-white-goo-everywhere-inside-alaska-seal-crows-wont-even-touch-it-and-they-eat-peoples-roofs-slime-in-anothers-mouth-kidney-almost-black-one-appeared-to-have-changed-c Wrangel Island is a nature reserve but this now sends an alarm off in our mind, because so many “nature reserves” are actually contaminated sites. Anytime someplace is a nature reserve or more green than average for the area, it is best to check the location to be certain it is safe. Wrangel was used as a Russian military base and they have recently been cleaning up old oil drums. They also happened to lose some Radioisotope thermoelectric generators in the neighborhood. Who knows what else is there? While most RTGs use 238Pu, the Russian ones supposedly use strontium 90. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator
Map cropped from Grigorieve et. al. 2012
According to Grigoriev et. al. 2012, “1 Beta-M RTG was not found / it was lost as a result of destruction of its beacon located in the eastern part of the northern Sea Route at Chukotka“, but wait, it seems that several were not found according to a chart – three points marked one are missing RTGs. Each RTG initially had 35000 to 465000 Curie (Ci) of activity. http://www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/Technical-Areas/WTS/CEG/documents/26th-IAEA-CEG-Plenary-Meeting/Paris_ENG_PDF/4.1_RTG_Program_Paper_Eng.pdf “RTG Disposal Program in Russia Status of RTG Decommissioning Activities“, By Alexander Grigoriev, Kurchatov Institute, Arthur Katashev, NIITFA 1 Curie is 37,000,000,000 becquerels. So the upper number of 465,000 Ci is 1,720,000,000,000,000,000 Bq or radioactive emissions per second. With a half life of about 30 years, there could now be half of that if they are 30 years old or 8,600,000,000,000,000 Bq
Monday 7 July 2014
Studies have indeed shown differences in uptake and excretion of radionuclides, in the marine environment can vary according to temperature, time, radioisotope and species. Sea Stars are considered sentinel species, like the proverbial canary in the coal mine (or deer) as are some or all clams and algae. This suggests that we should be concerned that they are ill. It seems that research regarding problems of old Soviet Russian waste was well funded in the 1990s.
Recall: Americium-241, with a half-life of 432 years, comes from Plutonium 241 and “decays by alpha emission, with a by-product of gamma rays. Its presence in plutonium is determined by the original concentration of plutonium-241 and the sample age.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_americium#Americium-241 “The radionuclide, cobalt-60, is produced for commercial use in linear accelerators. It is also produced as a by-product of nuclear reactor operations, when structural materials, such as steel, are exposed to neutron radiation.” The half-life of cobalt-60 is 5.27 years. http://www.epa.gov/rpdweb00/radionuclides/cobalt.html This means that Co 60 will be around for about 84 years. 84 years ago was 1930. They have chosen Co 57 for the research because of its shorter half life. Cobalt is part of the very important vitamin B12. So, radioactive cobalt would effectively produce radioactive B-12. Scary!
“Vitamin B12, vitamin B12 or vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid synthesis (especially odd chain fatty acids) and energy production“. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12 (Emphasis added)
1. BALTIC CLAMS: Hutchins et. al. (1990, studied the Baltic clam (Macoma Balthica). They looked at the impact of temperature on uptake and retention of Americium 241, Cobalt 57 and Cesium 137 from food and water. “These radioisotopes represent the three main categories of radionuclides present in the dumped Russian waste. 241Am is a transuranic component of the waste which can also be used as a model for other highly particle-reactive actinides and rare earth elements. 57Co is intermediate in particle reactivity and can be used to model the behavior of the important activation product 60Co. 137Cs (along with 134Cs) is an abundant fission product, and the least particle-reactive of the three elements.” They remark that “Uptake and loss kinetics of isotopes of both soft tissues and shell are important because many predators (e.g. walrus) ingest both parts of this soft-shelled bivalve“. They found that, DURING SHORT EXPOSURE, Cesium 137 did not accumulate in soft tissue from water and was quickly lost from the shell, regardless of temperature. They found no impacts of temperature on assimilation or retention of Cs 137 from food. They did find that temperature had an impact on assimilation efficiency of [dangerous alpha emitter] Americium 241 ingested with food. Whereas only 10% of the Americium was assimilated at 2 C (35.6F), 26% was at 12 C (53.6F0. Most radionuclides which came from water were found in the shell. Radionuclides which came from food were found in the soft tissues. This was true of all three radionuclides. They discuss at length its potential as a bioindicator: “results suggest that Macoma would be less effective as a bioindicator of trophic exposure to highly particle-reactive nuclear waste isotopes such as 241Am (and possibly chemically similar elements as well) than some other common Arctic benthic organisms such as the macroalga Fucus (Boisson et. al.)… or sea stars (asteroid echinoderms) which retain as much as 57% of 241 Am ingested with food (Hutchins et al., 1996). The somewhat higher AE for 57Co suggests that this species would be a more effective bio- indicator of exposure to radioactive activation products (most of which are transition metals) and heavy metals, and this bivalve has been used extensively as a sentinel of metal exposure in temperate habitats (Thomson et al., 1984; Luoma et al., 1985)“. (Emphasis our own) They elaborate how it might be used, as a sentinel. (See: “Effects of Arctic Temperatures on Distribution and Retention of the Nuclear Waste Radionuclides 241Am, 57Co, and 137Cs in the Bioindicator Bivalve Macoma balthica“, by David A. Hutchins, Ian Stupakoff, Sharon Hook, Samuel N. Luomab and Nicholas S. Fisher, Marine Environmental Research, Vol. 45, No. I, pp. 17-28, 1998)
Forbes Sea Star; NOAA black and white photo, “painted” by us
2. FORBES SEA STARS: Hutchins, Stupakoff, Fisher (1996) did lab experiments for about 4 months in 1994 (May-Sept.) to look at bioaccumulation in Forbes Sea Stars of Americium 241, Cobalt 57 and Cesium 137 – all important parts of radioactive wastes. Uptake via food vs. via water was compared in 2 C (35.6 F) temperature vs. 12C (53.6 F). The source of food was the Baltic clam (Macoma balthica). Colder temperature (2C) “greatly increased the retention of radionuclides ingested with food“. This was true for Americium 241 and Cobalt 57. In the months of their study, Cesium 137 was not found to accumulate from food. But for Cesium in water, the opposite was true: The colder temperature (2C) “significantly reduced net influx rates of 137 Cs from water, but did not affect net uptake of 241 Am or 57 Co. Temperature had little effect on the retention of all three isotopes obtained from the dissolved phase,” i.e. in water. (Emphasis added) (See: Hutchins, D.A., I. Stupakoff, and N.S. Fisher, 1996, “Temperature effects on accumulation and retention of radionuclides in the sea star, Asterias forbesi: implications for contaminated northern waters“. Marine Biology 125: 701-706.)
3. BRITTLE STARS: Hutchins, Teyssié, et. al., 1996, “examined the effects of temperature on uptake and retention of 11 dissolved radioisotopes” on the Brittle Star (Ophiothrix fragilis) They found that “Lower temperatures significantly reduced uptake rates of all elements examined, but had little effect on loss rates.” Thus, “the effects of low Arctic temperatures may need to be taken into consideration in order to understand the potential for food chain accumulation of nuclear wastes and toxic metals in high-latitude seas.” (See: Hutchins, D.A., J.-L. Teyssié, F. Boisson, S.W. Fowler, and N.S. Fisher, 1996, “Temperature effects on uptake and retention of contaminant radionuclides and trace metals by the brittle star Ophiothrix fragilis“, Marine Environmental Research 41: 363-378.)
This appears to mean that, all things being equal, warming waters would increase uptakes of radionuclides, if cooler water reduces uptake. Excretion remains the same. Not good.
4. MARINE ALGAE: Boisson, et. al. 1997, studied the impact of temperature on the accumulation and retention of eleven radionuclides by a marine algae. They studied 241Am, 110mAg, 133Ba, 109Cd, 57Co-cobalamine, 60Co, 134Cs, 152Eu, 54Mn, 106Ru and 65Zn. The marine algae studied was the brown macroalga Fucus vesiculosus (L.) Phaeophyceae. In laboratory radio-tracer experiments they compared 2°C vs. 12°C temperatures. Concentration factors significantly decreased at 2°C for 110mAg, 109Cd, 60Co, 54Mn and 65Zn. However, this was not the case for 241Am, 133Ba, 134Cs, 152Eu and organic 57Co, which were the same for 2C and 12C. For between two and fourteen days of radionuclide free, clean, environment (depuration), all of the radionuclides, except 133Ba and 134Cs, stayed “tightly bound to the alga.” They suggest that temperature needs to be considered when assessing the impact of radioactive waste dumping in the Arctic, as well as that “Fucus spp. would be excellent bioindicators of radionuclide contamination and dispersion in the Barents and Kara Seas.” (Emphasis added) (See: Boisson, F., D.A. Hutchins, S.W. Fowler, N.S. Fisher, and J.-L. Teyssié, 1997, “Influence of temperature on the accumulation and retention of eleven radionuclides by the marine alga Fucus vesiculosus (L.)“. Marine Pollution Bulletin 35: 313-321). (Note that if you need these studies for anything but general reading, please go to the original abstracts and studies. One paper is available online; in the other cases abstracts are. As a researcher-student you should be able to access all either online or at your library).
More long-term studies, by the Norwegian government, seem to paint an even more worrisome portrait of the long-term impact of radionuclide contamination. Remember that most of the radionuclides produced and emitted into the atmosphere are still there. We are living on borrowed time.
Please note that the vertical axis is Bq/kg, i.e. radioactive disintegrations (emissions) per second in one kilogram (2.2 pounds). That is NOT per minute but per second! This is wet weight, not dry. If it were dry weight there would be even more radiation per kg! The horizontal axis is in days so divide by 365 to get years. It is clear that the radionuclides built up over time in most organisms. The Norwegians are the ones who pressured Sellafield, UK to pollute less. They currently have no commercial nuclear power and are surely concerned about their salmon industry. They seem the only ones who have consistently done the basic research.
Reference: Brown J., Hosseini A., Børretzen P . and Iosjpe M. Environmental impact assessments for the marine environment – transfer and uptake of radionuclides. StrålevernRapport 2003:7 Østerås: Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, 2003, found on pp. 46, 47.
Cesium 137 has a half life of around 30 years. Pu-239 has a half-life of 24,100 years, and Pu-240 has a half-life of 6,560 years. Americium 241 has a half-life of 432 years. Plutonium and Americium are all alpha emitters, highly dangerous upon ingestion, inhalation or absorption. The number of years to reach 0.78% of the original quantity is Half Life x 7. The number of years to reach 0.0015% of the original quantity is Half Life x 16. This means that the cesium will be around for 480 years. We’ll let you do the math for the others.
480 years ago was 1534 AD (CE).
Thursday, 10 July 2014
One thing to notice is that the Norwegian charts seem to be of meat only, since they are wet weight. Plutonium (and strontium) get picked up the most by the bones, and plutonium by the liver. Plutonium (and strontium) would also be disproportionately picked up by the shells of clams. So, those animals which eat shells and meat (e.g. walrus) and the bones and meat of small fish could be in trouble. This includes humans eating the bones of small fish.
Oddly enough, after summarizing most of the research, which we presented last time, Fisher et. al. (1999) conclude that “While questions still remain about the real effect temperature has on regulating radio-nuclide uptake and retention, aside from some exceptions temperature does not appear to substantially affect equilibrium concentrations factors of radionuclides in nature“. What is substantially? It appears clear from the research presented that temperature does impact uptake of radionuclides, but there is species variation, variation by radionuclide-type, and variation in whether the uptake is from food or water. Time is an important variable too. In this same article Fisher, et. al. 1999, note that “Ectotherms inhabiting cold waters have slower metabolic rates and higher lipid reserves than do comparable organisms in warmer waters, and it is not known whether these would influence bioconcentration factors for the radionuclides disposed in the Arctic“. We saw last time that Forbes Sea Stars (Ectotherms) have a higher retention rate of Americium and Cobalt in colder water. Interestingly their food source, the Baltic Clams, uptake more Americium at warmer temperatures. So, perhaps they are saying that this balances out? Fisher et. al., 1999, also noted
“10-fold higher concentration factors for 239+240Pu in Arctic brown macroalgae, 10-fold lower Kd values for 90Sr in Kara Sea sediment than in ‘typical’ temperate coastal sediment, and 100-fold greater Ru Kd values in Kara Sea sediment.” (See: “Radionuclide Bioconcentration Factors and Sediment Partition Coefficients in Arctic Seas Subject to Contamination from Dumped Nuclear Wastes“, by Nicholas S. Fisher, Scott W. Fowler, Florence Boisson, JoLynn Carroll, Kristina Rissanen, Britt Salbu, Tatiana G. Sazykina, Kirsti-Liisa Sjoeblom, Environmental Science & Technology, 04/1999; 33(12) http://www.lm.doe.gov/cercla/documents/rockyflats_docs/SW/SW-A-004622.PDF Notice that Fisher was an author on much of the research cited last time. Fowler was an author on the Fisher, et. al. (1999) paper, above, as well as on articles cited last time.
In “Brief Introduction to Marine Radioecology with Emphasis on Bioaccumulation in Marine Organisms“, nd ppt, ca 2012, Scott W. Fowler, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, NY, USA states in his conclusion that: “In future seas, increased temperatures and acidification may alter parameters like radionuclide speciation and resultant bioavailabilty, food chain structure, species composition, etc. Some effort to understand the behaviour and food-chain transfer of key radionuclides under such scenarios would be useful in making future predictions“. (Emphasis added)
In Fowler’s (ca 2012) power point presentation, we find this graph, showing higher transfer factors for Americium 241 for Pacific worms and clams than for Atlantic ones:
This appears particularly interesting in that many of the recent animal diseases occur or have occurred in the Atlantic, but they are occurring to a greater extent in the Pacific.
Sunday, 13 July 2014
Gudvok, et. al. (2005) in the (conference) abstract of “Fate of Long-lived Artificial Radionuclides in Standing Aquatic Ecosystems of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone” explain: During 1998-2004 we evaluated the distribution of 90Sr, 137Cs, 238Pu, 239+240Pu and 241Am in the main components of the water reservoirs components within the exclusion zone, defined as a roughly circular area of 30 km radius around the destroyed unit of the Chernobyl NPP. The radionuclide content was measured for bottom sediments, water, seston, 28 species of higher aquatic plant, 6 species of molluscs and 18 species of fish in Azbuchin Lake, Dalekoye-1 Lake, Glubokoye Lake and Yanovsky Creek. The analysis of the radionuclide distribution in components of lakes of the exclusion zone has shown that about 98-99% of 137Cs and more than 99% of transuranic elements (238Pu, 239+240Pu and 241Am) of the total radionuclide content concentrated in the bottom sediments. The content of 90Sr in sediments of lakes, due to higher solubility, amount to 89-95%. About 2-10% of radionuclides concentrated in water and only about 1% – in biota. In this percent a prevailing value for different radionuclides has the macrobenthos species (especially bivalvia molluscs) and higher aquatic plants.” (Emphasis added). In strange contrast to the research which we reported the last two (or more) times, Gudkov et. al. seem to report a smaller uptake of tranuranics (e.g. plutonium, etc.), than of other radionuclides. This matters, as the dangers associated with alpha radiation are more severe and more distinct, although from many reports it tends to settle, by preference, in bones and liver. Their last sentence, however, IS unclear, which is also a problem. Gudkov et. al. continue: “The part of fish come to 1.5% of 90Sr, 8% of 137Cs and practically nothing of transuranic elements concentrated in biotic component“. (Emphasis added) How much is “practically nothing” when dealing with dangerous transuranics, like plutonium and americium, which bioaccumulate over a life-time (half-life is decades)? They continue: “The average specific activity of radionuclides in fish tissue in lakes more than in 100 times exceeds a maximum permissible level for fish production in Ukraine.” So, the fish are still 100 times too radioactive for Ukrainian fish standards, but only about 10 times too radioactive by US standards. In the Ukraine, “the allowable cesium level for seafood is 150 Bq/kg“, compared to 1,200 Bq/kg in the US FDA “standard” for Cesium (1,500 Bq/kg in the USA for all radionuclides) and 1,000 to 1,200 Bq/kg in most of the rest of the English speaking world (600 Bq/kg for Europe). Regarding the Ukrainian standard see: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/fukushima-nuclear-crisis-update-for-october-2/blog/37586/ [We have already documented these standards in this series but, besides the Ukraine, our numbers are strictly from memory. Public outcry made Euro standards better; not so for the USA.] So, these Chernobyl fish seem to be at about 15,000 Bq/kg – or at least for Cesium. Although sediment binds in different ways, as we have also seen, given the research which we have presented the last few times, one cannot help but suspect that Gudkov et. al. are lying, especially as regards bottom-dwellers. They don’t tell us which species of fish they are dealing with. It could also be that the other researchers included liver specimens, and that Gudkov et. al. exclude liver. Those who saw a documentary on Chernobyl may recall how highly radioactive the bones of the bottom dwelling Chernobyl catfish were. (The weak US, Canadian, Australian, standards are supposedly based on the supposition of a small percentage of contaminated food, but in an increasingly contaminated world, and where they do not test, they have no way of knowing what percentage of dietary intake is contaminated. They even suppose that in the event of an nuclear accident that the amount of food contaminated and the period of contamination will be short lived, which is mostly false).
Nonetheless, Gudkov et. al. explain that many impacts, such as genetic ones, may not appear for many generations (something which has been known since the 1920s; repercussions were a serious worry in the 1950s and still should be.): “The numerous effects of irradiation on hydrobionts within the Chernobyl exclusion zone are revealed. Some of these effects required for the short period of time for its formation, however it is supposed that an increasing importance will be got by the remote consequences – genetic damages induced by a long-term irradiation. These remote consequences are long-drawn out in time realisation of changes in molecules of heredity, in which the initial molecular damages can be kept for the long period not being shown and being transferred through many generations of cells. The absorbed dose rate for hydrobionts, living within littoral zone of the researched lakes, due to external irradiation and radionuclides incorporated in tissue was in a range from 0.2 to 3.4 Gy year-1. The highest value was found for hydrobionts from lakes within the embankment territory on the left-bank flood plain of the Pripyat River (Dalekoye-1 Lake and Glubokoye Lake). The molluscs embryos from Dalekoye-1 Lake and Glubokoye Lake were characterised by the maximal rate of chromosome aberration – about 20-25%, that in 10 times exceeds a spontaneous mutagenesis level for hydrobionts. A little bit less rate is registered for snails from Azbuchin Lake and Yanovsky Creek. The maximal aberration rate in roots of higher aquatic plants (7.8%) has registered in Glubokoye Lake.” (Emphasis added)
(See: “Fate of Long-lived Artificial Radionuclides in Standing Aquatic Ecosystems of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone” (Abstract), 9th International Symposium on Biogeochemistry of Wetlands(2005), by D. Gudkov et. al. Institute of Hydrobiology, Kiev; State Specialised Research Enterprise “Chernobyl Radioecological Centre”, Chernobyl, Ukraine; Shmalgauzen Institute of Zoology, Kiev; Kholodny Institute of Botany, Kiev, Ukraine http://www.conference.ifas.ufl.edu/wetlands/abstracts.pdf Notice the high rate of chromosomal aberrations (damage) in molluscs, beloved food of sea mammals (and humans), as well as in aquatic plants. Do we need more Chernobyls? Until all nuclear is shut-down, the next one is just around the corner.
Recall that morbidity is illness, sickness, disease. Radionuclides don’t only cause cancer and death but also cause, or make more vulnerable to, disease. For fish this includes increased susceptibility to parasites. Some of the weird salmon pictures that have appeared online, and are originally from LEO, are actually salmon meat with parasites. According to the EC funded, Sazykina et. al. ed., (2000): “Effects of chronic radiation on morbidity of aquatic animals include the deterioration of various physiological and metabolic characteristics, which lead to a decline in health and well-being of the organisms. They represent early signs of the reduced fitness of organisms. The following specific effects can be identified as effects on the morbidity of fish…: ·negative changes in blood composition; ·weakening and delay in immune response to bacterial/viral infection; ·weakening of the resistance to parasite infestation; ·negative changes in functioning of organs and tissues, etc. … In the natural conditions, the effects of radiation on fish immunity manifest themselves by an increased percentage of organisms in the population infested with parasites, and subjected to various infections… The development of morbid effects can result in more serious consequences, such as loss of competitive capacity, early mortality, etc. / Records A7, A8, A9 present some results of biochemical studies of radiation effects in gonads, liver, and muscles of fish at low doses of exposure. The experiment with carp specimens … revealed elevated concentrations of lipidoperoxides in liver and muscles of exposed fish (Storozhuk & Shekhanova, 1977; Shekhanova, 1983). Lipidoperoxides are toxic chemical agents (radiotoxins) caused by ionization in living matter. Increased concentrations of lipidoperoxides lead to violation of cell membranes, and inhibit some metabolic processes in liver and muscles. The generation of radiotoxins in biological tissues as a result of radiation exposure is a well-known phenomenon in radiobiology, and effects in fish did not differ from those in other animals(Bacq & Alexander, 1966; Kuzin, 1986).” [These experiments were with Strontium 90; Emphasis added] / “… early signs of weakening in gonad’ function in loach males, which were kept in aquariums with enhanced concentrations of 90Sr (Shekhanova et al.,1969; Shekhanova, 1983). At doses of 0.5 Gy received over 90 days, glycogen concentrations in the gonads became close to zero, and normal gonadal tissues began to be displaced by fat. The fattening of gonads as a result of low functional activity has been observed in radiobiological experiments with animals (Turner, 1975; Moskalev, 1991)… a dysfunction of eyes in exposed fish. Pathological deterioration of eyesight in small fish was observed at doses to eyes … from 90Sr accumulated in head bones (Nilov et al.,1976; Shekhanova, 1983).” (Emphasis added)
“7.1.3. Radiation effects on fish fertility/fecundity
This endpoint includes effects on the fertility and fecundity of organisms. The effects on reproduction manifest the damage to the vital system of organisms; these effects can be observed at some higher levels of radiation exposure than initial morbidity effects.
The following specific effects can be identified as effects on the reproductive success of aquatic organisms…: ·increased number of abnormalities and mortality in developing embryos of fish; ·morphological and functional abnormalities in gonads; ·sterility; ·teratogenic effects; and, ·decrease in the production of healthy progeny by irradiated organisms. (Emphasis added)
… the results of lifetime reproduction of fish Tilapia (Tilapia mossambica), which lived their entire life in aquariums with 90Sr solutions that ranged from 3.7 up to 3.7×10 4 Bq L – 1. These experiments demonstrate considerable changes in the reproduction of fish with the increase of radiation exposure: at dose rates below (4-5)x10-6 Gy day-1 reproduction was normal; at (4 -5)x10-4 Gy day-1 the overall production of normal larvae was 80% of the control despite some increase in the number of eggs produced; at 3×10-2 Gy day- 1 the reproduction was completely suppressed – all males were sterile, 80% of females had abnormalities in ovaries, and on experimental impregnation with normal males the produced larvae died within 5 months (Voronina, 1973,1974; Shekhanova, 1983)“. Excerpted from “Report on dose-effects relationships for reference (or related) Arctic biota. EPIC database ‘Radiation effects on biota’, A deliverable report for EPIC (Environmental Protection from Ionizing Contaminants), Project ICA2-CT- 2000-10032“, Edited by T.G.Sazykina1, Jaworska, A.2, & J. Brown 2, Contributors: T. Sazykina1, I. Kryshev 1 , M.Katkova 1, A.Kryshev1 1Scientific & Production Association “TYPHOON”, Russia. 2Stratens Strålevern, Norway. Funded under the European Commission Inco-Copernicus programme
THIS POST IS ONGOING AND EITHER SHOULD BE UPDATED OR A NEW ONE APPEAR WITHIN THE NEXT FEW DAYS. NOTIFICATION WILL OCCUR BOTH AT THE TOP OF THIS POST AND AT ONGOING SAGA. Related or similar type topics will likely appear too, in the interim, as free-standing posts. (Always barring unforeseen circumstances). IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN THIS GENERAL TOPIC OF RADIATION, RADIONUCLIDES, AND DISEASE, PLEASE COME BACK SOON. This is basically a learning, exploration, review series. There will be sometimes technical, sometimes not so technical things. We do hope to return to more micro-level physiology sometime soon.
Due to the fierce urgency of educating the public about the dangers of nuclear power, before the nuclear lobby and its minions destroy humanity and the earth, we are currently unable to handle comments. Unlike the Queen we are short-staffed. So, we apologize not only for any errors found by our readers in the past or present, but we also apologize in advance for future errors. We try our best, but are mortals, unlike the nuclear lobby who think they are radiation-proof immortals. We are very behind in posting (and falling more behind each day), so do not know when or if we will re-open comments. When we say nuclear power, we include the dangers of mining and waste, as well. With no nuclear power there will be no new mining and no new waste. Then, in an intelligent, educated way, everyone must take care of the waste properly. It is NOT by denying the dangers and diluting and dumping the radioactive waste, that the problem is solved!