Tuesday, August 2, 2011

More Deadly that Ever

While Fukushima has managed to keep mostly out of the (mainstream US) headlines for a while, and I've been unable to blog, there has of late been some startling developments, most importantly:

The radiation levels at Fukushima are higher than ever, and now could kill crews working there.

NYT reports readings of 10 Sieverts/hour (10,000 miliSeiverts/hour).
But wait that reading was the max. the instrument could record.  So the real reading must be higher (how much, we don't know.)  Recall that doses below this hourly reading (6-10 Sv) cause death...and not just "you'll get cancer in a few years" type death but immediate death in a few days or a week  (Some media outlets reported that the exposure could cause death in "a few weeks" as if you'd need to be exposed for that long to 10 Sv radiation.  Not true. Once exposed to a 10 Sv dose, you are walking dead.  As I mentioned on this blog before this happened twice during/after the Manhattan project, and also a few years ago at a Japanese Plutonium reprocessing plant.    If the true reading was say 15-20 Sv/hour then it means that everybody standing at this location for more than about 15 minutes would die within days.   (fortunately the unlucky person to take this reading was wearing protective clothing).

This reading was taken outside the ruined buildings between reactors 1 and 2, and implies that people can no longer go near this location to conduct repairs.   It'll have to be robot for what that's worth.   This still leave open the question of how they are going to get inside the buildings to plug leaks and rebuild the cooling system and finally remove the now-melted Uranium/Plutonium/Zirconium mixture from the floor.

And tonight a second lethal reading has been reported, along with a gamma-ray photograph:


This reading of 5 Sv is also off scale meaning it could be above 5 even 10 Sv/ hour.  What strikes me as odd is that TEPCO is claiming this might be due to venting just after the March 11 accident (this would make sense due to the location: right at a one of the venting "smokestacks").  However if this is true then it implies that we've had lethal levels around here for months as workers scrambled around the grounds of the plant trying to repair stuff.

I think that's all I can post tonight except to cite this useful link for Fukushima related news:


(You might have to click through to the stories.)


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