Cesium-137 plume forecast for North America and Europe up to March 24: France’s IRSN (VIDEO)

Published: March 19th, 2011 at 9:27 pm ET


Displacement of the plume from Japan: IRSN strengthens environmental radiation monitoring, France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), March 19, 2011:

Watch the animation on the IRSN website here.

Compare that to the Chernobyl animation on the IRSN website here.

Google Translation

Since March 12, the plume resulting from discharges from nuclear reactor accident at the Fukushima moves, while thinner, air currents in the northern hemisphere. The IRSN has a model of this dispersion, in collaboration with Meteo France, which allows it to monitor and anticipate this shift. The first card was wide areas near Japan and the second card is the scale of the northern hemisphere as a whole.

According to this model, the plume was covered yesterday in most of North America and north-eastern Siberia. He is currently on the North Atlantic, and should reach the Territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon and the Caribbean. It could reach mainland France, the 23 or March 24, 2011.

The expected concentrations of cesium 137 in the air over the territory swept by the plume are extremely low. This radionuclide is representative of radioactive material released long-distance during a nuclear accident.

These concentrations will be too low to be detected by the 170 beacons warning network Téléray IRSN, whose measurements are also available on the website of the IRSN.

IRSN agreed with the Environment Agency of the United States ( EPA ), which suggests that these concentrations will not affect health and the environment. In addition, they will be so small that they may probably be detected in the environment than by sample measurements performed in specialized laboratories.

The IRSN has such laboratories in France (and Tahiti, located in the southern hemisphere and therefore outside the main stream of the plume). The Institute will publish the test results when available, that is to say, several days after the passage of the plume. Regarding Saint Pierre and Miquelon or the West Indies, the results of data analyzed in the United States are considered representative of the situation in these territories.


Published: March 19th, 2011 at 9:27 pm ET


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9 comments to Cesium-137 plume forecast for North America and Europe up to March 24: France’s IRSN (VIDEO)

  • xdrfox

    Man it’s going to settle on the states like a mother hen sitting on her eggs.

  • No worries! :P

    Strange that Obama is in Brazil at that very time with all these crises brewing–calling war in Libya, Japan in tatters, and a potential US govt. shutdown. Is it really time to leave the country??? I guess it is if you want to avoid this plume! It looks like Brazil is the best seat in the Western Hemisphere in order to do so…and even Clinton is safely “out of town.” Hmmmm…. Where’s Bush/Cheney…the radioactive bunkers?

  • No worries! :P

    In fact, I’m sure Cheney is buried deep in his nuke-proof bunker! 😛 But, seriously…it’s very odd that President Obama makes sure to take his whole family so far away at this time on the taxpayer’s dime…and he sure poo-pooed any dangers for the rest of us.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    With radiation, and who knows what else that is from Japan, to the gulf waters, with quakes being felt, with our nuclear power plants on fault lines, and now Libya. Sign me up for a long extended Brazil trip.

  • This is not an accurate model. It does not appear to take into accurate consideration the varying latitudinal prevailing winds. The dispersion would not and is not taking place as it is being presented in this visual, even though it may eventually disperse at a low level throughout the entire earth atmosphere, but that remains to be seen, and I don’t believe it will happen as this model presents it.

  • Brian Gregory

    ‘Cesium-137’ http://www.epa.gov/radiation/radionuclides/cesium.html ‘undergoes radioactive decay with the emission of beta particles and relatively strong gamma radiation. The half-life of cesium-137 is 30.17 years. Because of the chemical nature of cesium, it moves easily through the environment. This makes the cleanup of cesium-137 difficult.’
    ‘How does cesium-137 get into the environment?: Cesium-137 in the environment came from a variety of sources. The largest single source was fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests in the 1950s and 1960s, which dispersed and deposited cesium-137 world-wide. However much of the cesium-137 from testing has now decayed. Nuclear reactor waste and accidental releases such as the Chernobyl accident in the Ukraine release some cesium-137 to the environment. Spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant wastes may introduce small amounts to the environment. However, the U.S. does not currently reprocess spent nuclear fuel.’ ‘How do people come in contact with cesium-137?: Everyone is exposed to very small amounts of cesium-137 in soil and water as a result of atmospheric fallout. In the Northern Hemisphere, the average annual dose from exposure to cesium-137 associated with atmospheric fallout is less than 1 mrem; this dose continues to diminish every year as cesium-137 decays. People may also be exposed from contaminated sites: 1). Walking on cesium-137 contaminated soil could result in external exposure to gamma radiation. Leaving the contaminated area would prevent additional exposure. 2). Coming in contact with waste materials at contaminated sites could also result in external exposure to gamma radiation. Leaving the area would also end the exposure. 3). If cesium-137 contaminated soil becomes air-borne as dust, breathing the dust would result in internal exposure. Because the radiation emitting material is then in the body, leaving the site would not end the exposure. 4). Drinking cesium-137 contaminated water, would also place the cesium-137 inside the body, where it would expose living tissue to gamma and beta radiation. People may also unknowingly handle a strong industrial source of cesium-137. For example, certain moisture gauges contain cesium-137 sources.’
    ‘How does cesium-137 get into the body?: People may ingest cesium-137 with food and water, or may inhale it as dust. If cesium-137 enters the body, it is distributed fairly uniformly throughout the body’s soft tissues, resulting in exposure of those tissues. Slightly higher concentrations of the metal are found in muscle, while slightly lower concentrations are found in bone and fat. Compared to some other radionuclides, cesium-137 remains in the body for a relatively short time. It is eliminated through the urine. Exposure to cesium-137 may also be external (that is, exposure to its gamma radiation from outside the body).’
    ‘Health Effects of Cesium-137 How can cesium-137 affect people’s health?: Like all radionuclides, exposure to radiation from cesium-137 results in increased risk of cancer. Everyone is exposed to very small amounts of cesium-137 in soil and water as a result of atmospheric fallout. Exposure to waste materials, from contaminated sites, or from nuclear accidents can result in cancer risks much higher than typical environmental exposures. If exposures are very high, serious burns, and even death, can result. Instances of such exposure are very rare. One example of a high-exposure situation would be the mishandling a strong industrial cesium-137 source. The magnitude of the health risk depends on exposure conditions. These include such factors as strength of the source, length of exposure, distance from the source, and whether there was shielding between you and the source (such as metal plating).’

  • WindDancer

    What is reaching us now is only the first wave. What will follow is the level after the containment building explosions and likely more radioactive. The French model shows how Cesium 137 will flow everywhere you grow food if we cannot entomb these reactors, which at the very least will take months of spewing, cumulative radiation. Not to mention the other radioactive particles spewing out of this disaster. Uruguay looks good.

  • Hobbit Baggins

    Brian Gregory: If spent nuclear fuel is not currently being reprocessed in the US, then who is making the depleted uranium weaponry now being used in the mid-east by us? Our own troops are coming home with the exposure symptoms.

  • This is a good reminder that radiation sickness is not just about radioactive iodine, but cesium is very important.