Surprise? Researchers say radioactivity levels detected by air monitoring stations were higher than computer models had predicted

Published: August 15th, 2011 at 7:51 pm ET


Little Radioactive Material From Fukushima Reached Europe, Chemical and Engineering News by Naomi Lubick, August 15, 2011:

[…] Total 131I concentrations peaked at 4 millibecquerel per m3 at European monitoring stations. Background 131I levels in Europe are usually negligible. […]

The European researchers also compared their measurements to computer models of how radioisotopes would travel around the globe from Fukushima. They found that the concentrations predicted by the models were lower than those detected at the monitoring stations.

Gerhard Wotawa of the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics in Vienna, Austria, says these results show that researchers need to revisit the underlying physics in their models to improve predictions for the next nuclear emergency.

Dan Jaffe, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Washington, Bothell agrees: “I’d like to see this as an opportunity to ask, ‘how can we improve things?'”

Published: August 15th, 2011 at 7:51 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Radioactive sulfur in California spiked to highest levels ever detected: University researchers August 15, 2011
  2. Unprecedented Spike: 1501 atoms of radioactive sulfur per meter³ was detected in California air August 16, 2011
  3. Radioactive substances rose 5 km in air on March 14-15 — Carried by jet stream to US and Europe June 22, 2011
  4. Iodine-131 now detected in Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary… other countries — An indicator of nuclear chain reaction — 10 days after criticality talk at Fukushima November 11, 2011
  5. Hungarian gov’t radiation expert: Iodine-131 detected in Budapest, but it’s OK because “this is far below the levels found after Fukushima” November 11, 2011

43 comments to Surprise? Researchers say radioactivity levels detected by air monitoring stations were higher than computer models had predicted

  • Whoopie Whoopie

    Been gone all day but will post to HP.
    TY Enenews!

  • jec jec

    One thing about Models–you have to put some start point data in..correct data. Likely the AMOUNT of radioactivity being output after Japan’s nuclear accidents into the atmosphere might have been GREATER than reported? Can the researches go backwards..and use their actual radiation fallout amounts to determine the original output from Fukushima? Or continued output?

    • patb2009

      well you want to determine two questions

      1) Is the Source term much higher then we were told.

      2) is the fallout much faster then we thought.

      SO you have to work on the second problem.

      determine if the predicted fallouts in places upwind, are higher, once you have that, then adjust the source term


    Radiation From Japan Reached US West Coast, Scientists Reveal
    Published August 15, 2011
    | Associated Press
    A spike in radioactive sulfur from the damaged Japanese nuclear plant was detected in California in late March, but researchers say it posed no threat to health.
    While the amount was higher than normal background levels, it remained small, said Mark Thiemens of the University of California, San Diego.
    “The levels we recorded aren’t a concern for human health. In fact, it took sensitive instruments, measuring radioactive decay for hours after lengthy collection of the particles to precisely measure the amount of radiation,” said Thiemens. He is lead author of a report on the findings being published in Tuesday’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant was damaged in a tsunami on March 11 and extremely low amounts of radioactive iodine later showed up in milk sampled in the U.S. states of California, Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts over the following weeks. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said the levels were so minuscule they were not harmful to public health. EPA scaled back its monitoring efforts to routine levels in May.
    The new report focused on sulfur measurements taken at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, March 28-April 1.
    While there was no threat from the radiation, Thiemens explained in an email that tracking the sulfur helps researchers understand the movement of particles in the atmosphere.

    Read more:

    • 10.00 says arnie gunderson and Mark Thiemens don’t play nice…

      Arnie was always the cooler one…

      So now they give us this douche bag Mark Thiemens to tell the truth… Lulz

      • acid Lab acid Lab

        Speaking of douches, check out this cat… A.J. Shaka.

        I took his Physical Chemistry class at UC Irvine. Sharp guy… openly clowned religion and other nonsense in class. Learned a lot and liked his class.

        Alas, religion seems to have gotten the better of him… here is a 12-page slideshow of his, and it’s worth reading in full.

        His quote from New Scientist about “stressors” on page 7 are well taken but obviously are comical and self-serving. Shaka highlights the quote that “If the damage is not too severe” then (basically) low-level radiation is the equivalent of “rejuvenation”… holy shit, it’s right in keeping with the current theme that only people that aren’t happy get effected by radiation.

        fucking sad.

        • Darth

          It’s another Ann Coulter moment.

          Ann Coulter Says Radiation Is Good For You

          A Glowing Report On Radiation

          With the terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami that have devastated Japan, the only good news is that anyone exposed to excess radiation from the nuclear power plants is now probably much less likely to get cancer.

          This only seems counterintuitive because of media hysteria for the past 20 years trying to convince Americans that radiation at any dose is bad. There is, however, burgeoning evidence that excess radiation operates as a sort of cancer vaccine.

          As The New York Times science section reported in 2001, an increasing number of scientists believe that at some level — much higher than the minimums set by the U.S. government — radiation is good for you. “They theorize,” the Times said, that “these doses protect against cancer by activating cells’ natural defense mechanisms.”

          Among the studies mentioned by the Times was one in Canada finding that tuberculosis patients subjected to multiple chest X-rays had much lower rates of breast cancer than the general population.

  • Whoopie Whoopie

    Go RahSolar!! Great JOB your doing at HP there!! Now I’m really offline…just wanted to THANK YOU!

  • Sickputer

    I really wouldn’t play nice in a debate with the Fox News puppy dog Mark Thiemans. No sense in embarrassing this physical science troglodyte since he is so good at doing it to himself. Five years ago he declared that there was no consensus of world scientists for global warming… declaring “has nothing to do with reality”.

    Dig a little deeper into the funding for his grants and I think you might find the reason he is so out of touch with the real consensus of scientists and if so why should I believe any of his nuclear research (“running hours and hours to find these trace amounts”…yeah…give me a break).

    BTW…a little different topic…Des Moines hit over 500 CPM 3 hours ago on Radnet, but Amarillo results have been non-reported since late Saturday night. Guess they didn’t like my publicity here. You will also see quite a few other cities have been turned off since the weekend.

    Canada and America are in a peak window of numerous plumes from heavy emissions 7 to 10 days ago at Fukushima. If we are really getting less than 1% can you imagine the beta counts in Japan proper?


    • lam335 lam335

      FUK is undoubtedly still releasing a lot of nasty stuff, but how do you know that the spikes you mentioned are necessarily from Japan? I suspect U.S. power plants periodically vent stuff without telling the surrounding community about it. Do we know if there have been any particularly large releases from FUK in the past five or so days?

      • Sickputer

        >FUK is undoubtedly still releasing a lot of nasty stuff, but how do you know that the spikes you mentioned are necessarily from Japan

        How? Observation…high tech. I use my human eyes and watch the web cam time lapses. The emissions vary in intensity from day to day and week to week, but the Jetstream and normal eastern slower and lower wind currents rarely miss a beat…they are a constant.

        I rarely watch the live cam and I can pull up the time lapses in YouTube on my phone…what a tool!This ain’t your grandpa’s box!

        To me the time lapse segments are invaluable for spotting plume trends…it has been enormously useful…and it shows radiation disturbances on the camera that indicates bad stuff even when the “clouds” are not puffing like a Tonka train set.

        Here’s why I say we have plumes later this week in North America based on the 7-10 day lag of the normal slower lower winds (not everything hot makes it up into the jetstream!):

        One week ago 1-hour time lapse:

        When you see many thousands of views for the timelapse YouTube counter then it is usually beyond the pale.

        I like to check on the dusk to dawn segments and late afternoon to night segments and see how the radiation looks as it changes from the black and white night camera to the day color camera. Lately the night camera kicks in around 19:00 hours as the days are getting shorter again.


        • lam335 lam335

          Interesting. Thanks for the info. I thought the lag time for FUK emissions to reach the US west coast was only about five days, however–and maybe just a couple more to move across the whole US?

          • Sickputer

            Iam335 sez… I thought the lag time for FUK emissions to reach the US west coast was only about five days, however–and maybe just a couple more to move across the whole US?

            SP: Liars figure, but figures don’t lie. Figure the math for 5,000 miles to West coast at 25 mph winds: 8 days. Add 3 days to central continent and another day or two to east coast. Slower sub-jetstream winds are often carriers of desert sand from China and Mongolia. It is not always the jetstream that brings foreign particles around the globe. And the lower wind levels deposit more along the way on the first circuit around the globe… My guess anyway.. should be data to prove or disprove that.

          • Sickputer

            Forgot to mention jetstream speeds to west coast…25 hours at 200 mph (rarely that fast) and 33 hours at 150 mph… But most forecasts show 36 to 48 hours so speeds closer to 100 to 120 mph.

        • arclight arclight

          well spootted with them high tech etes and high tech common sense.
          thanks to all you you high tech eye people in fact…most impressed with your observations….and your tenacity!! just saying!! 🙂

    • Excellent research on the Fox story on Mark Thiemans Sickputer.

      I’ve been away from my computer since lunch but last night when I looked I was shocked by how many cities have stopped reporting.

      Clearly our reporting is raising some concern. We need to find other ways of accessing their data. I’ll look tomorrow…


    According to the data The fuel has constantly been over boiling point in reactor 3…

  • lam335 lam335

    Regarding the the incineration of radioactive stuff the Gundersen mentioned yesterday, where are all of the people who are so concerned about limits on other kinds of emissions? Why is there no international outrage about the incineration of radioactive materials?

    Well, probably the lack of international outrage has to do with the incomprehensible fact that many countries apparently do this. The following article is a couple of months old, but notice that the U.S. also incinerates nuclear waste (including waste it imports from other countries). How can this be safe? How can we put a stop to this? Here’s the article:

    “German nuclear waste headed to Tennessee”

    by Pam Sohn

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved licenses that will allow up to 1,000 tons of Germany’s low-level radioactive waste to be brought to Oak Ridge, Tenn., for incineration.

    But some environmental groups say the plan for the radioactive waste is unhealthy, and may even crack the door further for highly radioactive wastes to be reprocessed or recycled in East Tennessee’s “Atomic City.”

    “Tennessee is taking a lot more risks than most other areas in the world are willing to take,” said Don Safer, chairman of the Tennessee Environmental Council. “The Germans are world leaders in incineration, but they decided this radioactive waste is something they will not burn.”

    He noted the waste also was turned away by the Czech government, and the state of Utah did everything in its power to avoid receiving the ash left behind after incineration at Oak Ridge, forcing most of it to be shipped back to Germany.

    EnergySolutions, a Utah-based multinational company that operates radioactive waste disposal facilities in Oak Ridge, said the process is safe when the proposal was introduced a few months ago. Company officials also said EnergySolutions has treated low-level radioactive waste — such as X-ray equipment, medical waste or contaminated clothing and mops from nuclear plants — for American businesses and the government at Oak Ridge since the facility opened more than 20 years ago.

    “There’s more [radioactive] tritium in the atmosphere from cosmic rays from the sun than what we’d ever emit from there,” EnergySolutions spokesman Mark Walker said last March.

    On Wednesday, Walker said in an email that EnergySolutions appreciates “the rigorous and thorough analysis by the NRC. As always, we will comply with state and federal regulations.”

    Because the licenses have been approved but not yet signed, the company has not confirmed import dates for the waste, he said.

    Future concerns

    Tennessee is the only state that allows commercial burning of radioactive waste, licensing six incinerators. The state already receives 75 percent of the nation’s low-level radioactive waste — about 41 million pounds per year, according to state records.

    With German waste now permitted to enter the U.S. and come to Oak Ridge, Safer expects Tennessee to become “the destination for processing radioactive waste from all over the world.”

    And with the acceptance of waste with low-level radiation, environmental groups fear highly radioactive waste is not off the table, either.

    In separate recent tours of Tennessee Valley Authority nuclear power plants, both Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore told reporters they are expecting announcements of a TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory partnership to reprocess or recycle spent nuclear fuel, which is highly radioactive.

    Reprocessing nuclear fuel is controversial and done in other countries, but not in the U.S. because critics say it creates more pollution and is a terrorist and nuclear proliferation threat.

    NRC spokesman David McIntyre said the two kinds of radioactive levels “are two different animals,” and only the low-level radioactive materials are in play in the recent approval.

    Sara Barczak, director for high risk programs at, an advocacy group for renewable energy sources, said Tennessee’s history with the World War II’s Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge — which helped develop the first atomic bomb — makes it hard for policymakers to change the state’s course.

    “Tennessee already is a dumping ground, and Oak Ridge is a player … and is open arms,” she said. “Those things are not good for Tennessee, and reprocessing is not good for nuclear proliferation goals.”

    Safer also took state officials to task for not taking a stand against what he called “a crack” in the door.

    “It really does open the door a little bit wider to the next nuclear proposal and, the fact is that the state [environmental regulators] and the governor presented no opposition,” he said.

    Tisha Calabrese-Benton, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said the decision to bring foreign waste to Tennessee was up to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, not the state.

    “From the state’s perspective, EnergySolutions is required to follow the requirements of its licenses, which are designed to be protective of human health and the environment, no matter where the waste originates,” she said.

    Calabrese-Benton said EnergySolutions already is licensed by the state to handle low-level nuclear waste. The new licenses, which are specific to Oak Ridge, outline the type and quantity of radioactive material allowed onsite, as well as its handling requirements.

    “In addition to facility-required monitoring, TDEC’s Division of Radiological Health performs independent monitoring, inspects the facilities and reviews facility monitoring results to ensure the license requirements are being met,” she said.

    Safer said Tennessee’s rules are too lax, a product of nuclear energy being a big business in the state. After German waste comes here, “then who?” he asked.

    “The Japanese? Is it possible that we will receive ‘low-level’ radioactive waste from the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster?”

  • stock

    The modeling is barely useful. You cannot remove radiation by modeling. You cannot get people to abandon their lives and run away without extreme credence in a model. You cannot prevent radiation with a model.

    It obvious that nuclear power is too strong and too dangerous to entrust to humans.

  • bmurr bmurr

    The next nuclear emergency? Are we becoming comfortable with these events?

    • Steven Steven

      Yes that caught my eye also bmurr.

      “researchers need to revisit the underlying physics in their models to improve predictions for the next nuclear emergency.”

      Clearly these people have one eye closed. They genuinely cannot see what they have done, or the consequences thereof. They will likely be the last one’s to figure it out, apart from the heads of state who employ them for their ‘expertise’ and advice.

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      bmurr, that’s what I fear as well. My impression is that compared to Chernobyl, Fuku has left hardly any impression on people, now after 5 months everyone is back to normal. Life goes on…(for most).
      I’m very afraid that we might see the next meltdown somewhere in far less than another 25 years, with operation times for plants being extended beyond the max.

  • 1984

    after japan is declared uninhabitable in 10 or maybe less years, it’s land will be a perfect spot to dump all the worlds rad waste and other nasties. plus japan’s nuclear management and other back scratchers of the world should be jettisoned to labor the work.

    • cosmicwind

      And in the future, Japan could be home to the unfortunate who are already contaminated…they could go there to die like they use to put lepers on islands to contain their contamination…
      I was wondering why the Japanesse goverment was sending their people out of the shelters and back to their homes when everyone knows it will surely contaminate them..more….could it be linked to this idea of seeing. In the shelters these people are in a large group.They can be seen. If they are already contaminated they will probably be getting sick and then dying. In these shelters that will be more obvious..but if they go back to their homes they will die without anyone knowing/reporting that fact. Surely when people get sick in mass this will cause horrible stress on the population that is observing….I think that’s why they are sending them home…to die without an audience…after all what reports will venture there to record it. The Japanesse goverment is buying a little time at the cost of great human suffering, we need to say no, these people deserve to die in a hospital or with some comfort afforded to them by the wealthy power company, TEPCO.

  • Keen

    This article states Chernobyl “didn’t lead to significant health effects in the rest of Europe” The report refrenced for this statement is form WHA, I mean WHO (World health Organization). WHO is linked with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). This report as well as other recently released reports concerning radioactive sulfer, seem to come from this WHA, I mean WHO perspective.

  • cosmicwind

    If this were an alien invasion that caused this great distruction the world would unite to conquer evil. When you take a look at what has happened to the world since this nuclear disaster…it worse than the most sinister, horrible thing that could ever be created. Radiation destroys everything, soil, food ,water, air, the dna in our children’s blood. Really, think about it…could anyone come up with something worse…I doubt it. Think…disease (that’s involved) famine (that’s coming), death, radiation has it all and it also has the power to change the unborn…it is the worst thing that we have let loose on humanity…and we still embrace the concept of nuclear energy…that is mass insanity. Obama is still pushing for new nukes…we have to make a plan to save ourselves from Fuku and close all plants…that will at least give us hope for when we really find out how terrible nuclear anything is.

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      cosmicwind, I agree on what you said. Concerning Obama, I think the ones among you who are in the US of A, have the great challenge to stop the grant of millions/billions/zillions of $ as guarantees for the nuke industry.
      You MUST stop that. Please.

  • john lh john lh

    Dear All,

    Water is already boiling….the forge is dying:

    The news in Chinese said ,on 13th,July, Japanese Premier Khan want a non-nuclear society in Japan, said”It is painful to have understood that the risky is so much high, that the nuclear technology can not be handled with modern security measure we have”

    The judgement is to be made,Is it too early or too late?

    From cover Fuku Plant with Tents and wall,pumping water cooling ,to stop nuclear industry in Japan, what they are doing?

    I believe they are just avoid to talking about japan should be evacuated and already too late to say stop the nuclear industry.

    It looks that they are start to cook another forge to keep the water heat too fast.

    This forge is to abound Japan,before it is too late, not just their nuclear industry.

    The link is in Chinese:

  • Ok, i guess this is the right article to post this…

    Nuclear news from The Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration may 2011.

    Where among other we can read the following:

    SNSA has commissioned additional measurements of radioactive iodine I-131 because of the potential impact of
    the Fukushima accident in Slovenia. The concentration of I-131 in the samples of air was measured to be between
    0.1 and 1 mBq/m3. These values are similar to those measured elsewhere in Europe and are in line with the
    forecasts of dispersion of the radioactive plume. As a comparison, concentrations as high as 29.4 Bq/m3 of I-131
    were measured in Ljubljana after the Chernobyl accident. The measured values were very low, barely measurable
    and do not represent any threat to human health.

    The head of the The Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration is at the same time the head of ENSREG

    , which is the source of EU stress tests and that model is also being used in Japan.

    • arclight arclight

      didnt quite tally with CRIAADS readings from france of mid april! bit suspicious that! no other isotopes found? and i thought fuku fallout had an identifyable signature mix of isotopes in the early days of this event?

      liked the way you connected the dots there about ENSREG! good digging! that what the gundesman and others come here for!! 🙂

  • Keen

    I am not equipped to question the figures put forth in Nuclear news from The Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration, article. I also appreciate any credible data collected that adds to the greater picture. My problem with the original article that we are posting to is that it states Chernobyl “didn’t lead to significant health effects in the rest of Europe” and that it sites WHO as its source for this statement. It has been shown that WHO in a subordinate position to the IAEA; As such it brings the intent of this article under question. It is also becoming increasingly clear that government agencies in Japan, Canada, and the US (EPA & FDA) are not performing the necessary monitoring, and that citizen monitors such as ones shown in have become necessary for obtaining data and information on what is really going on. Without the necessary monitoring and data how can the potential hazards be averted and environmental and human health effects really be assessed?

    • arclight arclight

      to keen
      we have to deal with the material available and some of the most in depth answers are often found on the pro nuke websit….plus how can they then have a go at our conclusions! but yu need to assertain what is true or false, and there are other sources for that!
      as for citizen groups testing! it will get bigger and better!

  • Keen

    For some reason I am not keen to the url for the documentary I was trying to reference in my last post did not come through so I am reposting the sentence with the articles title inserted instead.

    “Canada, and the US (EPA & FDA) are not performing the necessary monitoring, and that citizen monitors such as ones shown in the documentary; NHK Special: Mapping the Radioactive Fallout; have become necessary for obtaining data and information on what is really going on.”