Radio: Radiation from Fukushima disaster going nowhere fast — Levels can change a 100 times just crossing the street — No useful data being published by gov’t (AUDIO)

Published: July 17th, 2012 at 2:42 pm ET


Title: In Japan, an effort to crowdsource radiation information
Source: Marketplace Morning Report
Author: Jeff Horwich
Date: July 17, 2012

Jeff Horwich: To Japan now, where the radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident is going nowhere fast. And in many cases, it’s not clear where the radiation’s OK and where it’s not. That’s where a group called SafeCast comes in. They’ve been on the ground since the accident. 

Co-founder Sean Bonner is still in Japan and he’s with me now. Hello, Sean.

Bonner: […] there’s no reliable radiation data available to the public on the kind of granularity level that is actually useful to people.


it can change from street to street. We’ve seen levels change a hundred times just walking across the street and so giving one giant average doesn’t tell you the actual story in any case.


some areas that were outside of any kind of recommended evacuation areas have some very high levels and some people made decisions to leave their homes or businesses, based on that, to move areas with lower readings.

Horwich: This mapping that you and your team of volunteers are doing — why isn’t the Japanese government taking care of that?

Bonner: That is an excellent question, one that I don’t have any kind of an answer for. It’s not data that they don’t know. They’re certainly taking readings but we felt that people needed to have this kind of data so we started publishing it.


Published: July 17th, 2012 at 2:42 pm ET


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34 comments to Radio: Radiation from Fukushima disaster going nowhere fast — Levels can change a 100 times just crossing the street — No useful data being published by gov’t (AUDIO)

  • Time Is Short Time Is Short

    Here's where the radiation is:

    Look very carefully at that map. Then look at these heat charts:

    Notice any similarities? We have an inner-atmosphere radiation belt spreading across the entire Northern Hemisphere, spreading cancer and heart disease. The trapped heat is killing off our crops and most likely the cause of the very unusual flooding rains we're seeing this time of year. No crops, no food – radioactive or not.

    If anyone thinks any of this is going to go away in the next 10,000 years, good luck.

    • A relationship between drought and radiation occurred to me this morning after reading the headline.

      I did some research and found that the relationship has been argued before, although it is hard to find in the scientific studies of radiation because most of those address nuclear war, which would cause more dust in the atmosphere.

      "Earthquakes and Nuclear Testing" by Dr. Gary Whiteford. Paper presented to the Second International Conference on the United Nations and World Peace, Seattle, Washington,
      14 April 1989

      [excerpt from the article on a previous study]:

      The Spring 1992 issue of Journal of Orgonomy (1) carried a paper by James DeMeo describing research undertaken in 1990-1991 on the California drought, with a "Special Note on Underground Nuclear Testing and the Oakland Wildfires" that bears repeating here:

      Weather Response to Nuclear Testing

      In prior articles, I discussed a possible connection between underground nuclear bomb testing in Nevada to weather changes in the Western US.(2) A graph was published showing changes in 500 mb pressure over Nevada and Montana in 1990, with a generalized association with nuclear tests. Nuclear testing appeared to have increased atmospheric pressure in the upper atmosphere, a possible factor in the expansion of high-pressure drought conditions in the West.

      [end excerpt]

      • 500 mb (18,000 feet) temperatures rise because of the decay of radioactive isotopes. This also causes drought. That paper was evidence that radiation causes global warming.

        100 degrees today once again. Radiation shot way up yesterday, both me and my pregnant stepdaughter have been through an ordeal since then.

        • I'm very sorry you and your pregnant stepdaughter aren't well… especially bad for your stepdaughter's baby…

          I've wondered whether we've been getting hit recently as well. The upper jet stream indicates not, but I've had a lot of hair loss again, my allergies and asthma have been inexplicably bad, and I feel exhausted again…

          How can I find the map for the lower level jet stream?


  • arclight arclight

    Safecast is a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements to empower people with data about their environments.

    my huge resects to sean bonner and his staff and volunteers!!

    • farawayfan farawayfan

      Agreed, respects for both the tireless work and the now neverending risk they take…

    • Time Is Short Time Is Short

      Safecast is brand new – and not global. They are a new startup in Japan, funded through the Momoko Ito Foundation. The Ito part refers to Joi Ito, also Director of MIT's Media Lab. We know MIT actively supports the nuclear industry. Have to place those graduates somewhere. But I'm sure there's no connection . . .

      According to their maps, only the Fukushima area is 'moderately' radioactive, one map not updated since January. The rest of the country is 'fine'. Apparently their 'aggregate' doesn't include all the measurements of the black substances in the millions of sieverts found in Tokyo. They must have missed that.

      They do have a nice, shiny new office, though. Interesting that they can spend the money when Japanese kids with thyroid lumps can't get any follow-up treatment. Just left to die.

      Glad they like living in Tokyo. Do their kids play on the playgrounds, or go swimming in the Pacific? Do they all eat the local fish and breathe the local air? We know Tokyo's water supply is thoroughly contaminated. Is their water flown in?

      The jury's out on this one.

      • arclight arclight

        hi time is short

        lol! and i thought i was suspicious… 🙂

        good points you make..


      • jonjon

        It seems to me that nobody ever reports their independent readings to safecast, and of those who do, are they ever included? Safecast has never been about live data or high radiation alerts, or in short, protecting people. I always found their website totally useless and I'm not alone. Their clickable radiation maps with placemarkers had raw readings with no coherent unit or time frame for that matter, making comparisons cumbersome and confusing, if not impossible without some software automation which only they could do since there was no API provided.
        I think they are so in love with their equipment, their little hacks, their data analysis algorithm, their new API and development goals, that they forgot why they even came to be… To me it seems like fame and media coverage has become their primary goal and "raison d'etre".

        • arclight arclight

          good points also

          i suppose there is a reason that criirad and ACRO are not more involved in monitoring as they have decent equipment and professional staff that could easily begin to map out contamination and they already helped the japanese citizens to get to grips with the situation.. but they seem sidelined.. also japan didnt want an independent proper equipped laboratory..

          in fairness to safecast and all ngo`s in japan .. they have to walk a tight line… i think more will come out about this.. it was the same for "save the children".. remember the report they did hardly mentioned the nuclear disaster and reported that they were only given a limited remit of works.. the biggest childrens charity and they had to comply too!

          busby couldnt get permission and criirad havent got the laboratory they were trying to fund either..

          so maybe safecast is like eurdep.. but will it respond to a release? the eurdep map doesnt, though sometimes you get hints . i hope the safecast system is better than eurdep.. but it might have the same software running it.. 🙁

          • Time Is Short Time Is Short

            The western militarys know everything about this. They just won't release it to the general public.

            If it was anywhere near OK, or if they could come close to faking OK data, they would release what they have. They can't fake it enough to be believable, so they hold onto it.

            It's bad, and getting worse. How many troops are in harm's way, and their commands are going to let them die of rad sickness? All the way to the top.

  • weeman

    Nobody knows how to predict the spread of radiation, half a field can be radiated the other not, very unpredictable. But I would hazard to guess readings will keep rising till they stop the radioactive isotopes from leaving the building, ha ha, still leaks from Chernobyl.

    We can live without nuclear energy, but I don't think we can survive with it, no more atom smashers.

    • farawayfan farawayfan

      Just a fine point, atom smashers is usually used to refer to colliders, non-isotope producing research devices, I know you meant no more nukes, but just a clarification for casual readers….

    • Actually, they do. Plumes of radioactivity from a meltdown travel a lot like smoke from a forest fire. Close to the ground due to shear or low ceiling the plume "corkscrews" in the windward direction. If it goes higher and in greater mass higher into the atmosphere, the trajectory will gain that much more volume. Making (usually) the doses from plume contact lower, but more widespread. Then there's that stuff that gets to the upper levels subject to the jet stream.

      Corkscrew motion under a low ceiling ensures that there will be 'touchdown zones' where an entire block (or neighborhood for the larger plume) gets positively blasted. While people living across the street didn't get much at all. This movement pattern also explains some readings early on should be rejected because levels at a meter or two in the air were higher than readings on the ground.

      • Correction: "This movement pattern also explains some readings early on WHICH WERE rejected because levels a meter or two in the air were higher than readings on the ground.

        My edit-fingers were a bit itchy. Sorry.

  • Max1 Max1

    Of course if the government was actually committed to public safety the government would be on top of monitoring. As we have seen, time and time again it is up to citizen journalists and locals to alert eachother of local hotspots.

    Ladies and Gents… This is what collusion does to a nation.
    It leaves the people on their own to handle the crisis instead of officials that take oaths. Sad state of affairs. All it takes is a disaster, natural or otherwise, to expose the elected cowards.

    • Yeah. Sort of like it taking 5 days to get water to the Superdome. We've been on our own for awhile now. The only thing they're actually equipped to handle is citizen unrest – brutally. Everything else is incidental.

      Oh… You were talking about Japan! Per what collusion does to a nation. Never mind.

      [/Rosanne Rosannadanna]

      • Max1 Max1

        You picked up exactly what I put down.

        Great minds think alike.

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "The only thing they're actually equipped to handle is citizen unrest – brutally. Everything else is incidental."

        Well said, JoyB. Now that's global.

      • dharmasyd dharmasyd

        JoyB, Max1, TIS …Katrina was "Criminally Negligent Homocide." The crushing of our First Amendment Right to Dissent is criminal, unconstitutional, brutal, and verges on the fringes of homicide. I believe 'they' will cross those fringes easily if our efforts to change this system continue and show signs of being successful.

        • Alas, Fukushima is "criminally negligent homicide" as well. On a much, much larger scale over a much, much greater period of time. They know what they've done. They will never admit to it honestly.

          Also alas, 'they' have been crossing fringes for as long as I've been aware of the world. It's just that they've managed to program most people to not notice or care.

          • Joy would you please comment whether you think this update by the EPA (page updated Mar 2012) is a change in policy on beta particles in drinking water:

            [excerpt] To protect public health, EPA has established drinking water standards for several types of radioactive contaminants combined radium 226/228 (5 pCi/L); beta emitters (4 mrems); gross alpha standard (15 pCi/L); and uranium (30 µg/L)
            [end excerpt]


            Why are beta levels given in rems?

            • Oh, who the hell knows how these flunkies come up with their limits? All of these limits (in your link) are in picocuries or microcuries per liter. Which is an amount allowed from the raw source. Dosage, like for instance, millirem [mr], is entirely dependent upon how much water you drink. So no, I don't know why they're giving beta in dose, and not even qualifying that with a time factor.

              Perhaps they do that in order to confuse people. It doesn't make any sense. 4 mr/hr of equivalent dose (internal) is several tens of thousands of Bq (disintegrations per second). No good conversion factor, but it's up there. "4" probably sounded more benign for PR purposes. But since it's not given as per hour, it could be anything.

              • Thanks Joy

                I suspected it was designed to confuse and obscure.

                Arclink found an EPA page that operationalized the 4 mrem into 200 picocuries a liter!

                If I've not overlooked something, it looks as if the EPA just raised the standard from 3 picocuries a liter to 200 picocuries a liter

                (assuming that 4 mrem could ever be operationalized in this fashion)

              • richard richard

                @joyb – can we not simply say that zero is the tolerable level? Curious if it's realistic (or was, long ago), and I thought you'd be the one to ask.

                • Nobody ever gets zero if they're alive on planet Earth. There is a natural background that varies widely across the planet, from a variety of sources also geo-local. We just don't need any extra, but we get plenty of that for the past 65+ years too. Nothing to be done about it – once they've concentrated the sources, enriched them enough to create more, and dumped them into the air/food/water, no one can call 'em back.

                  So we have ALARA – As Low As Reasonably Achievable. Only not so much that anymore either… §;o(

  • Radio VicFromOregon

    This is the data that the researchers in the other article today are missing. This shows the difficulty in monitoring, thus, in predicting, and the very real likelihood that they have missed large swaths of both high concentration areas and low level dispersed regions for their calculations of cancer rates per radiation releases. This story here and the work these folks are doing will show that researchers who are still relying on the IAEA stats are beginning their studies with flawed data.

    • vital1 vital1

      If you are in this type of environment it is important to have a personal Geiger Counter so you can avoid the worst of it. You also need to know how to use it properly.

      This free Guide on how to use a Geiger Counter has been created for this community. This Basic Guide will provide you with information on how to protect your Geiger Counter from contamination, plus how get the best out of it.

      Unfortunately having a personal Geiger counter maybe essential now. 🙁

      • Time Is Short Time Is Short

        "Unfortunately having a personal Geiger counter maybe essential now."

        Only if you want to know what you're eating, drinking or breathing. Or where you live or work. It won't measure internal exposure. Only urinalysis can provide that somewhat inexpensively. Two visits to an oncologist and the urinalysis.

        I would like to know about the debris washing up on the West Coast, though. That subject disappeared, and there is no mention I can find about rad readings on what's washing ashore.

        I'm not taking my kids down to help clean up. I know what's coming, but I'm not going to hurry the process.

  • chrisk9

    Joy's analogy to a forest fire is correct and a good explanation of how air moves and deposits particles. Other parts of the puzzle are particulate size, isotopic identity, and charge of the particulate matter.
    Before any of the hydrogen explosions I would imagine most particles would be rather small or gaseous and mostly iodine, cesium, and noble gasses. During and after the explosions heavier isotopic elements were ejected along with large sized particles. Some of this traveled miles with the explosions. The majority of these larger particles probably did not travel that far (a few miles). Some were carried further, and some were moved by weather conditions at a later time. But most of the worst stuff stayed within 10-30 miles of the plant.

    So what people are seeing with the quickly changing dose rates are hot particles. One pinhead sized particle could be 10 rem or more. The beta dose rates could be much higher and would not be fully measured by Geiger counters. And the major risk is getting one of these inside your body.