Tracking Radiation from Fukushima

Scientists Track Radioactive Iodine in New Hampshire from Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown

Testing in New Hampshire’s Mink Brook watershed during March through May 2011 resulted in calculating radioactive iodine deposition in the soil at a total amount around 6,000 atoms per square meter. Dartmouth research associate Joshua Landis commented that “at these levels, it is unlikely that this is going to cause measurable health consequences.” The amount in stream sediments was double the amount in soil but should be reduced by river and stream dilution.

This radiactive waste from Fukushima consists of iodine-131, “highly radioactive, acutely toxic” with a half-life of about 8 days, and iodine-29, less radioactive but with a half-life of 15.7 million years. “Due to its long half-life and continued release from ongoing nuclear energy production, [iodine-129] is perpetually accumulating in the environment and poses a growing radiological risk,” the authors of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report point out. A nuclear reactor produces 3 parts iodine-131 to one part iodine-129. “Once the iodine-131 decays, you lose your ability to track the migration of either isotope.”

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has created a prototype “Super-wide Angle Compton Camera” capable of creating images of gamma ray-emitting radioactive particles. This equipment is based on the gamma ray-observing sensor technology to be added to the next X-ray observation satellite, ASTRO-H. It is expected to be able to create visual images of radioactive particles that have collected at high altitudes such as building roofs where it is difficult to conduct measurements with existing survey meters. Taking advantage of its wide vision (180-degree) capability as well as its ability to distinguish gamma rays from nuclides, it can create images of Cesium 137 (Cs-137) and Cesium 134 (Cs-134) that have widely dispersed on the ground and residential houses. (Attachment-1)

On February 11, 2012, JAXA, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) conducted a field test of the dose measurement and imaging survey using the “Super-wide Angle Compton Camera” at Kusano area of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture. The results yielded the successful image capturing of the dispersed radio-cesium over a much broader area and to a higher degree of accuracy in comparison with existing gamma cameras. (Attachment-2)

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We need a zero emissions society and culture, especially where such long-lived pollutants are concerned.

Sidestepping the Impasse: Zero Emissions to Ecological Design

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Fri 31 Jul 11:22 AM