UC Berkeley plutonium testing was 200-300 times less sensitive than US gov’t — University researchers still “may consider” performing more precise analysis for alpha particles — EPA detected Uranium-238 in San Francisco

Published: April 8th, 2012 at 7:44 am ET


Title: BRAWM Air Filter Alpha Spectrometry Report
Source: University of California, Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering
Date: July 31, 2011

BRAWM took an air filter sample in mid-April and performed alpha spectrometry on the air filter. We did not detect any Uranium, Plutonium, or Americium-241, and our calculated detection limits indicate safe levels. Our limits are much higher than the limits set by the EPA in their testing for Uranium and Plutonium.


Comparison with EPA results

While our limits are comparable to the limits we have set for fission product isotopes from Japan, the EPA reached much lower limits. The EPA performed several tests for Pu and U in the first few weeks after the Fukushima disaster. They issued a report on their findings [LINK BROKEN]. In San Francisco, there was a detection of U-238, but no detections of U-234, U-235, Pu-238, or Pu-239. Here are the data, accessed via the EPA query search. MDA was estimated by taking twice the uncertainty (CSU):


So our limits are about 200–300 times higher than the EPA limits. Even though we spent a longer time collecting data, the signal-to-noise is just too poor for us to reach similar limits.

Because of the difficulties inherent in measuring alpha particles from an air filter, the standard procedure is to perform some chemistry on the filter to extract and concentrate the actinides (Uranium, Plutonium, Americium, and others). These elements are then electroplated onto a metal film and placed in front of a detector. Because there is no intervening filter material, these samples have much sharper lines and greater sensitivity (i.e., lower limits) can be achieved.

Since uranium and plutonium have long half-lives, we may consider performing other analyses on our filter sample that could be more sensitive. […]

Read the report here

Published: April 8th, 2012 at 7:44 am ET


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25 comments to UC Berkeley plutonium testing was 200-300 times less sensitive than US gov’t — University researchers still “may consider” performing more precise analysis for alpha particles — EPA detected Uranium-238 in San Francisco

  • many moons

    People must understand that Berkeley has been a fundamental intitution in the development of nuclear bullshit. Their scientist are hand picked from around the globe, bullshitologists who for decades have been creating new insights into the devastation of radiation. Using whatever menas to whatever evil end these folks are relentless. Yes the nuclear industry wouldn't be what it is without the lying expertise of the UCB (you see Bullshit) team.

    • NoNukes NoNukes

      Lies, and the lying liars who tell them! UCB professors went on TV furious that Fukushima was raised to a "7" and pledged to fight to get it lowered. They should have to move their "lab" to Fukushima, right next to the incinerator.

    • americancommntr

      B.S. Bull Shit.
      M.S. More of the Same.
      PhD Piled higher and deeper.

      About 4 semesters of my B.S. was spent reviewing general ed subjects covered in high school. The core of the degree could have been taken in about 3 semesters.

  • Bobby1

    They're comparing breathing plutonium to airplane flights. What a bastion of lying pseudoscience.

    • americancommntr

      Apparently we could drink saxotoxin, since plutonium is comparable to airplane flight radiation exposure, and the two are the most deadly poisons in the world.

  • Fuku plutonium information, as UCB can't seem to get their facts straight

    Complimentary release figures, Fukushima vs. Chernobyl

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture

    Seems there's an interest in down-playing the spread of plutonium that happened. And is happening.

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    These scientists talk all about how safe it is to eat and drink plutonium, uranium and other radioactive elements. Read the following and see if you agree…

    How Dangerous Is 400-600 Pounds Of Plutonium Nano Particle Dust Liberated By Fukushima? Via A Green Road Blog http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/03/how-dangerous-is-400-600-pounds-of.html

    Depleted Uranium Effects In The Human Body; via A Green Road Blog http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/03/depleted-uranium-effects-in-human-body.html

    Radium Girls & Radium Dials; Ottowa Illinois, Death City

  • AGreenRoad AGreenRoad

    Low dose radiation testing and hazards explained

    Low dose radiation causing changes in children; via A Green Road Blog http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/03/radiation-causing-unusual-changes-whats.html

    Low dose radiation dangers, lessons from Chernobyl; via A Green Road Blog

    Tokyo; is it safe to live in or visit? via A Green Road Blog http://agreenroad.blogspot.com/2012/03/tokyo-is-it-safe-to-visit-or-live-in.html

  • What they said then and 'most likely' what they will continue to say. A couple of Kodak moments.

    Flashback: March 22, 2011
    U.S. Safe From Japan Radiation, Berkeley Lab Expert Says:

    Flashback: March 17, 2011
    Radiation Fears Unfounded, campus expert says:

    “The more you get paid by the nuclear power industry, the more likely you are to avoid expanding your knowledge of the subject beyond the nuclear power industries ‘talking point’ manual.” – by anonymous (probably a former Nuclear Industry Employee… I’m just guessing.)

  • glowfus

    what's the hurry? with a half-life of four point four billion years, #238 urinium will be here a while. in fact, when solar system re-morphs into another solar system, its amoeba's can study ours via the old #238!

  • lam335 lam335

    "In San Francisco, there was a detection of U-238, but no detections of U-234, U-235, Pu-238, or Pu-239"

    What about Pu 240?

  • InfoPest InfoPest

    UC Berkeley Website Has AntiNuke Story On Their Website.

    Nuclear Expert: Fukushima spent fuel has 85 times more cesium than released at Chernobyl — “It would destroy the world environment and our civilization… an issue of human survival” -Former UN adviser


  • Craig-123

    If possible, Energy News people want to put an arm around the BRAWM team members at UCB. You need them, and you need them to come over.

    * The link for this article is to work they did in July, in which they then plainly stated the limitations of their methods with respect to the EPA's capabilities. I see no reason to bash them for the normal candor of doing what at least appears to be honest science, especially in that they've shared enough information that their methods might be understood and replicated elsewhere.

    * I hope everyone reading this has put some of their time and resources where their KBs are and is signed up to help with Jill Stein's Green Party presidential campaign.

    "Fool me once –"

    I declare the era of voting for "the lesser of two evils" to be officially at an end. Let's hope we'll never again hear "safe state strategy" BS from any member of the Green Party.


    • arclight arclight

      "You need them, and you need them to come over"

      they are the slowest radiological testers in the world but maybe they were pressured into it?

      your above statement craig is spot on in my opinion..

      no revolution can win if the all the people are not on the same page!

      i am up for cuddling the BRAWN staff! 🙂

      +100 (especially if they get off the ICRP banana thing and talk internal emmitters and dont talk psychology)

      and there is a question of the laws of thermodynamics too! 🙂 hehe

      • arclight arclight

        i should also say that the monitoring services to the nuclear industry should all be independant more like criirads model but even more independant.. monitoring will be a necessary part of human life even if they stop all reactors tommorrow!

        having the monitoring tied so closely to the nuke industry at berkely is not good practise if the monitors are supposed to be overseeing what these private companies are doing.. funding should be independant too as the educational side of monitoring and testing!

        we need some drastic changes to the structure of nuclear.. it will be the tax payers who fund decommissioning.. no private company can pay that.. they havent even saved any money for the reactors they have already started decommissioning…

  • RutherfordsGhost

    Hilarious! Alpha detection is one of the simplest things to do in the lab!

    • TheMysticWizard1

      Seems to me that all this detection crap should be fairly easy in most modern labs now a days… is it really that hard to get an breakdown of what elements and the amount of these elements in a sample of something?

  • Fall out man!

    Article from Chris Busby explaining how any citizen can do extremely accurate testing for alpha emissions, putting an exact figure on the radiation levels, and all at astoundingly low cost.

    Busby describes the materials you need and how to use them on page 2 of this document. Page 1 explains how its difficult to detect traces of Uranium with just a geiger counter. This method will give as accurate a result as its possible to get, with a budget of very little. If you think an area might be contaminated with Uranium or some other alpha emitter, this will give you the answer.


    So those lying academics from Berkeley really have absolutely no excuse. The general public can do this stuff now.

    • Fall out man!

      That is, its difficult to detect alpha emissions from pure uranium with just a geiger counter. (uranium's daughter products after it decays emit beta and gamma) This simple and cheap method described above is extremely accurate in detecting and quantifying how much alpha is emitted. No excuse for Berkeley not coming up with accurate figures for alpha. They can do that in many ways, have ample equipment and resources, but simply have something to hide. When they say their figures are too inexact to show anything, what they really mean is that they do not want to show anything. The truth would be too costly to their nuclear industry pay masters.

      The Bible warns us to "Beware the scribes". Academics are the modern day equivalent of scribes.

      • Sickputer

        "No excuse for Berkeley not coming up with accurate figures for alpha. They can do that in many ways"


        Eggheads chasing the fed government largesse (and getting it frequently). They know better than the EPA muckymucks what the past, present, and probably future levels of plutonium are on the West Coast, but they like playing the role of poor little under-equipped scientists.

      • Jebus Jebus

        I agree 100% on all accounts. Puppets for the industry, we've seen the infection of nuclear cash at work in other "Educational Institutions"
        They follow the same model as in Japan, whereby the hidden industry tenured PHD's are doing all the organizing, control, lecturing, and curriculum teaching.
        We no longer have Learning Institutions, we now have Industry Support Institutions…

        • Sickputer

          +100 Good summary of a post World War II Luddite plague afflicting the Ivory Towers of so many "civilized" countries. Dangerous dogma and obstruction of truth perpetuated by the nuclear cabal's cash to prop up their Dr. Frankenstein monster of an industry.