[Abridged and updated Beta Watch with new data, interviews and information]
By Michael Collins
Millions of Southern Californians and tourists seek the region’s famous beaches to cool off in the sea breeze and frolic in the surf. Those iconic breezes, however, may be delivering something hotter than the white sands along the Pacific – buckyballs.
According to a new U.C. Davis study, uranium-filled nanospheres are created from the millions of tons of fresh and saltwater used to try to cool down the three molten cores of the stricken reactors. The tiny and tough buckeyballs are shaped like British Association Football soccer balls.
Water hitting the incredibly hot and radioactive primarily uranium-oxide fuel turns it into peroxide. In this goo buckeyballs are formed, loaded with uranium and able to move quickly through water without disintegrating.
High radiation readings in Santa Monica and Los Angeles during a recent 42-day period from late December and to late January strongly suggest that radiation is increasing in the region.
The radiation, detected by this reporter and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency separate from each other using difference procedures, does not appear to be natural in origin. The EPA’s radiation station is high atop an undisclosed building in Los Angeles while this reporter’s detection location is near the West LA border.
Both stations registered over 5.3 times normal though the methods of sampling and detection differed. The videotaped Santa Monica sampling and testing allowed for the detection of alpha and beta radiation while the sensitive EPA instrument detected beta only according the government website.
Scientific studies from the United Kingdom and Europe show that sea water infused with radiation of the sort spewing out of Fukushima can travel inland from the coast up to 300 kilometers. These mobile poisons include cesium-137 and plutonium-239 with a half-life of 24,400 years.
Even with government, University of California and this reporter’s tests showing high radiation in the air, water, food and dairy products in this state, the state and federal government cut off special testing for Fukushima radionuclides over half a year ago.
Southern California is still getting hit by Fukushima radiation at alarmingly high levels that will inevitably increase as the main bulk of polluted Pacific Ocean water reaches North America over the next two years.
Luckily, the area is south of where the jet stream has brought hot rains from across the Pacific and Fukushima over 5,000 miles away, upwind and up-current of the West Coast. Those rains have brought extraordinary amounts of radiation to places like St. Louis with multiple rain events detected and filmed showing incredibly hot rains.
Unluckily, North America is directly downwind of Japan where the government is having 560,000 tons of irradiated rubble incinerated with the ash dumped in Tokyo Bay. The ash that could escape would ALSO be radioactive adding to the witch’s brew of airborne toxins emanating from Japan which has suffered terribly from the meltdowns.
The burning began last October and continues through March 2014. Activists contend that people are getting an unwitting double dose with those along the coast looking at the prospect of a Pacific poisoned with highly mobile and extremely dangerous buckeyballs in the sea mist and breeze.
American media coverage of Fukushima’s continuing woes and contamination spreading across Japan and threatening Tokyo’s 30 million residents, while not robust has been adequate. Coverage of contamination in America and Southern California has been praciticaly non-existent.
With nuclear radiation monitoring equipment, this investigation has performed over 1,500 radiation tests in different media throughout four states and in jets miles above the nation.
Those readings, along with the EPA’s, combined with the UC Davis study of buckeyballs and European study of sea spray radiation spread, strongly indicate that Southern California is being exposed to significant amounts of radiation.
Other reports of likely-Fukushima fallout in the Southland exist.
The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) just reported February 21 that Los Angeles had more cesium-137 fallout than any other place in the nation during the opening days of the disaster from March 15 to April 5, 2011.
The amount of Cs-137 detected in precipitation at a monitoring station 20 miles east of downtown was 13 times the limit for the toxin in drinking water according to a report obtained by the EnviroReporter.com.
USGS released another astonishing study February 22 in from measurements, taken at its Bennington National Atmospheric Deposition Program in Vermont confirmed a grim cesium-137 scenario for Southern California.
“Deposition actually decreased as the air mass traveled east to west,” Greg Wetherbee, a chemist with USGS, told the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper before imparting an additional bombshell.
“In the United States, cesium-134 and cesium-137 wet dispersion values were higher than for Chernobyl fallout in part due to the U.S. being further downwind,” Wetherbee told the paper. “With Chernobyl, there was more opportunity for plume dispersion.”
This double whammy of cesium-137, with a half-life of 30 years isn’t even in a uranium-60 buckyball. But they are in the unfathomable spread of goo throughout the Pacific on the second strongest current in the world headed right for us.
In fact, these buckyballs may already be here according to this 11-month investigation, nanospheres turning the Endless Summer into the Endless Bummer.
The March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake was a magnitude 9.0 temblor on the Richter Scale and centered at an underwater depth of 20 miles about 43 miles east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku. It was the most powerful earthquake to have ever to impact Japan.
The shaker sent waves up to 133 feet high slamming into Japan destroying or damaging over 125,000 buildings in the island nation. The Japanese National Police Agency said that at least 19,166 people were killed or remain missing with over 6,000 injured.
This hit close to home for Glendale resident and entrepreneur Dale Ramicone who is married to a woman born in Japan. Ramicone knows the country well. He watched the earthquake and subsequent tsunami helplessly streaming live on his computer.
“Initially, my focus was on the tsunami and the tragic loss of life on the east coast of Japan,” Ramicone told EnviroReporter.com. “Several days later, the nuclear disaster began to unfold, and I emailed my niece who lives near Tokyo, urging her to evacuate to the west. She and her husband decided to stay where they were.”
In the last week, radiation was detected at the super-hot level 6.5 microsieverts per hour at Japan’s busiest train station near the Imperial Palace. The blogger Fukushima Diary showed photos of these detections which are 10 times higher than Chernobyl evacuation levels.
“Now, we hear that many Japanese officials were contemplating evacuating all of Tokyo, while at the time, they were telling everyone not to panic and stay put,” laments Ramicone.
While the Japanese government may not know what to do, the owners of the stricken plant, TEPCO, have been wily enough to solve one problem: liability. The company declared last year that once the radiation leaves it Fukushima property, it is no longer their property or problem.
The three meltdowns have spewed trillions of becquerels of highly radioactive iodine-131, cesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium-239 into the atmosphere and Pacific since day one of the disaster. The initial explosions and fires sent untold amounts of radiation high into the atmosphere.
A February 28 report by the Meteorological Research Institute, just released at a scientific symposium in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, says that 40,000 trillion becquerels, double the amount previously thought, has escaped Unit 1 reactor alone.
This has resulted in fallout around the globe and especially impacting parts of America and Canada, two countries downwind of Japan on the jet stream. British Columbia, Pacific Northwest, Midwest and Ontario have been hit especially hard by rain, sleet and snow, in some cases with dizzying amounts of high radiation.
Radioactive fallout in St. Louis rainfall, which has been monitored at Potrblog.com since the crisis began, has been repeatedly so hot that levels have been reached that make it unsafe for children and pregnant women. An October 17, 2011 St. Louis rain storm was measured on video at 2.76 millirem per hour or over 270 times background.
The U.S. EPA considers anything 3 times background to be significantly above background. The California Highway Patrol deems any material over 3 times background as a potential hazardous materials situation. The St. Louis rain was 90 times CHP’s hazmat trigger.
Compounding the airborne fallout from the destroyed reactors, the Japanese government has embarked on a program of incinerating 5 million tons of radioactive debris trucked into Tokyo from the devastated prefectures.
“Burning does not eliminate radioactive waste, but it reduces its volume by ashing the original materiel” according to the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “Incineration does not destroy metals or reduce radioactivity of wastes. Radioactive waste incinerators, when equipped with well-maintained, high efficiency filters, can capture all but a small fraction of the radioactive isotopes and metals fed into them. The fraction that does escape, however, tends to be in the form of small particles that are more readily absorbed by living organisms than larger particles.”
The incinerating, begun last October, will last until March 2014 with radioactive burning conducted all over the capital city of Tokyo which is home to over 13 million people. This will re-suspend some of the radiation that has already fallen out.
The incinerated and compacted radioactive ash will be dumped into Tokyo Bay where, Japanese officials say, it will be perfectly safe.
The main wave of water-borne radiation from the meltdowns, including highly mobile uranium-60 buckyballs, is surging across the Pacific along the Kuroshio Current. Sometimes called the Japan Current, it is known for its strong and fast flow clockwise around the Pacific second only in power to the Gulf Stream on the planet.
Millions of tons of seawater and fresh water have been used to cool the melted cores and spent fuel rods generating millions of tons of irradiated water. The Kuroshio Current is transporting a significant amount of this escaping radiation from Fukushima Daiichi across the Pacific towards the West Coast.
The 70 mile wide current joins the North Pacific Current moving eastward until it splits and flows southward along the California Current.
The American government has done nothing to monitor the Pacific Ocean for over half a year even though a Texas-sized sea of Japanese earthquake debris is already washing up on outlier Alaskan islands.
“In terms of the radiation, EPA is in charge of the radiation network for airborne radiation; it’s called RadNet,” EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld told EnviroReporter.com during a news conference about new ship sewage regulations February 9. “And we have a very significant and comprehensive array of RadNet monitors along the, actually along the coast, but on land. We don’t have jurisdiction for looking at marine radiation. Perhaps NOAA would be able to answer that question but we don’t have data or monitor it.”
NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, suspended testing the Pacific for Fukushima radiation last summer after concluding that there wasn’t any radiation to be detected.
“As far as questions about radiation, we are working with radiation experts within the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy,” NOAA media liaison Keeley Belva wrote in a February 10 email. “Here are some contacts information for those agencies at the headquarters level.”
“NOAA is not currently doing further research on seafood,” Belva said adding “NOAA is doing a study related to radiation that is focused on radiation plume modeling.”
The lack of testing disappoints Dan Hirsch U.C. Santa Cruz nuclear policy lecturer and president of Committee to Bridge the Gap which exposed the Rocketdyne partial meltdowns above the western San Fernando Valley in 1979 and continues to lead the fight to clean up Rocketdyne today.
“EPA did some special monitoring for a few weeks after the accident began, then shut down the special monitoring” Hirsch told EnviroReporter.com. “What monitoring was done was very troubled. Half of the stationary air monitors were broken at the time of the accident. Deployable monitors were ordered not deployed.”
Even when the government testing did work, increasingly high levels of radiation seemed to have been ignored.
EnviroReporter.com has learned that the California Department of Public Health halted monitoring of Fukushima fallout when its Radiologic Health Branch issued its last report October 10, 2011.
That report shows an alarming rise in cesium-137 in CalPoly dairy farm milk from June 14, 2011 when it tested 2.95 picocuries per liter (pCi/l) and steadily rising in four subsequent tests until it was 5.91 pCi/l. The hot milk was twice allowable amount of this radionuclide in drinking water according to the EPA’s 3.0 pCi/l limit.
Then the testing stopped for no other reason that the government concluded nothing from Fukushima had sufficiently contaminated anything to be of concern. Even detections of radioactive sulphur-35 in San Diego and plutonium-239 in Riverside did nothing to pique the interest of regulators.
“The lesson to be learned is that both the U.S. and Japan suffer from very lax regulation, a too-cozy relationship between nuclear regulators and the industry they are to regulate,” Hirsch said. “This can lead to dangerous outcomes.”
This was not unanticipated. Yet the need for immediate information was undeniable.
Live streaming radiation readings from Santa Monica began four days after the meltdowns. Since then, this reporter has conducted over 1,500 tests in four states and miles about the Earth where jet radiation registered over 5 times normal even accounting for altitude.
Special tests revealed elevated radiation in Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon rain. Southwest Michigan rain samples were hot.
Japanese sake, beer, vegetable juice, seaweed, pastries and tea all registered significant ionization above background. Powdered milk, turkey hot dogs, and jet travel breathing masks were all part of the specific media tested many of which were recorded in these videotaped radiation detections.
Establishing a large and comprehensive data set of interior and exterior backgrounds was and is crucial. Accuracy in readings, however, can be compromised especially in precipitation because of ‘radon progeny’ which are isotopes that are created by the decay of radon gas.
If detected but not accounted for, could give a false positive radiation reading. Some scientists have questioned whether the high readings this reporter has recorded were actually the result of radon progeny.
Dr. Mark Bandstra is one of them. A member of the U.C. Berkeley Radiological Air and Water Monitoring Team in the Nuclear Engineering Department, Bandstra has declared that detecting Fukushima radiation here as “impossible” despite evidence to the contrary produced by his own department. That hasn’t prevented him from dismissing radiation finds.
“I applaud you for your efforts to measure radiation and inform the public — this is definitely a needed service that you are providing,” Bandstra wrote May 15, 2011. “Basically, the levels in the rain and air from radionuclides in Japan cannot be reliably detected using your methods, and you are probably measuring natural radioactivity from radon progeny.”
The California Department of Health Services, as it was then called in 1999, conducted a yearlong investigation into the radon levels of 99 Santa Monica residences and released the results March 14 of that year. CDHS found that the radon readings were so minute that the department didn’t even suggest further testing of buildings or homes in the seaside town.
This was not news to the local officials who were well aware that the city sits in a structural depression filled with alluvium and didn’t have the geologic features that would produce radon. In addition, Santa Monica’s predominant wind direction, which dictates much of what will be in the wind, is from the ocean not from upwind land seeping radon gas.
A detailed “Radon Potential Zone Map for Southern Los Angeles County, California” created by the California Geological Survey in January 2005 confirms that Radiation Station Santa Monica doesn’t appear near any possible radon or radon daughters source.
Bandstra did not respond to a request for comment about these radon progeny-free findings.
HEPA filters may also be effective in capturing ‘buckyballs,’ geodesic dome-shaped structures which is spherical with multiple flat sides. Strong evidence suggests that these hearty radioactive Uranium-60 nanoparticles have spanned the Pacific quickly with their concentrations rising.
That evidence includes Radiation Station – Santa Monica’s hot HEPA filter readings and the EPA’s high beta readings in Los Angeles. Our radiation station is a little over a mile from the Pacific shoreline. Downtown Los Angeles is over 13 miles away from the sea.
The January 27, 2012 U.C. Davis report, “Uranyl peroxide enhanced nuclear fuel corrosion in seawater,” is the first account to analyze what is happening to the gargantuan amount of seawater, as well as fresh water, that has been hosing down the melted reactor cores and flushing into the Pacific.
The study spells out a horrific scenario in which compromised irradiated fuel turned huge amounts of ocean water into a series of uranium-related peroxide compounds containing as many as 60 “uranyl ions” in hearty nanoscale cage clusters that can “potentially transport uranium over long distances.”
It also describes a similar phenomenon occurring for other isotopes of radiation adding further horror to the possibility that the tons of melted reactor fuel is being virtually weaponized on a nanoscale to withstand hostile environments and move quickly through water to deliver its virulent cargo of caged radiation.
The majority of the fuel matrix at the Fukushima reactor complex is made up of uranium-oxide “whose behavior will largely dictate release of matrix-incorporated plutonium and various other radionuclides into water used as a coolant,” according to a full copy of the report obtained by EnviroReporter.com from one of the study’s authors, Dr. Alexandra Navrotsky.
These U60 nano-cages of uranium not only can move fast through water, they last a long time according to the report persisting for “at least 294 days without detectable change.”
Not only does the seawater turn into peroxide-creating buckyball soup, the salt water corrodes the melted nuclear fuel stripping it of the most dangerous radionuclides on Earth which end up in the ocean, a process that has gone on unabated for nearly a year.
Buckyballs don’t need peroxide to continue to persist, according to the study, and can spread to exist in seawater out of the peroxide zone, dissolving or existing as nanoscale radioactive time bombs that will have the capability infuse the marine food chain.
How hot these nano-cage clusters of cancer-causing radiation are depends on what kind and ratio of uranium isotopes make up the 60 in each one.
“A given isotope has the same radioactivity (half-life) regardless of what chemical state it is in,” Dr. Navrotsky told EnviroReporter.com. “So the radioactivity for a constant number of U atoms depends on the proportion of different isotopes in the sample.”
“Reactor fuel is a tailored mixture of them,” she continued, explaining that the buckyball phenomena would affect and ‘cage’ each uranium isotope found in melted nuclear reactor fuel. “They all behave the same chemically, so yes to all of them.”
There is a strong possibility that these uranium peroxide buckeyballs are already sloshing around in the waters off of Southern California as this reporter and the EPA’s radiation readings appear to indicate.
It has been nearly a year since this disaster started, the only kind of disaster that gets worse as time goes on. Fukushima is no exception with the extreme temperature spikes and Unit 4’s spent fuel cooling pool’s potential to topple to the ground if and when the leaning building collapses.
If uranium-filled buckyballs, and perhaps other radionuclides, are offshore here and elsewhere on the Pacific Rim where high radiation of the sort we’ve sampled comes from ambient air not radon or precipitation, how do they get to our HEPA filter?
One strong possibility may be ominous for the 40% of humanity that live within 100 kilometers of a marine ecosystem according to United Nations Environment Programme.
Radioactive sea spray has been shown to blow hundreds of kilometers inland in tests conducted in the United Kingdom by British and European researchers. As one who has ever smelled the salty ocean air miles from the ocean might expect, salt in sea spray can travel a significant distance though it is far larger than what water molecules that it will precipitate around it before remobilization. The same holds true for radioactive particles floating in the sea even if it they aren’t of the U60 buckyballs variety.
In the 2008 report “Sea to land transfer of radionuclides in Cumbria and North Wales: updating of previous investigations” by the Westlakes Scientific Consulting Ltd., of Cumbria, United Kingdom, researchers looked at the inland deposition trends at Nethertown, a burgeoning hamlet 10 kilometers north of the highly contaminated nuclear reprocessing site Sellafield which sits on the east coast of the Irish Sea.
The Westlakes investigation found that the greatest average concentration of cesium-137 and plutonium-239 in soil at a depth of 0 to 15 centimeters was 10 kilometers from the coast. The highest average amounts found at 15 to 30 cm deep were 5 km away from the sea.
A 62-page UK study released in December 2011 by the Manchester-based Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is one of the most comprehensive analyses of the radiation problems plaguing the water body between the United Kingdom and Ireland.
The government-affiliated citizen activist group has been in existence for 31 years. Knowledge of the Irish Sea and its surrounding communities, combined with sharp science paints a picture of an americium, cesium and plutonium-filled sea that is not pretty.
Among the findings, sea spray and marine aerosols created from bubbles forming and popping when the sea is choppy or waves break have increased concentrations of radioactive “actinides.” Actinides are chemically alike radioactive metallic elements and include uranium and plutonium. One actinide infused the spray with 812 times greater concentration of americium 241 than normal amounts of Am-241 in ambient seawater.
“Research demonstrates that the magnitude of the effect is dependent on wind speed and the
volume of fine sediment particles (with their adsorbed radioactivity) ejected into the air in sea spray and aerosols,” the report reads.
What it doesn’t include are uranium-filled buckyballs that aren’t attached to fine sediment particles as is the case in the Pacific. Buckyballs, which, as noted, may make up the bulk of the Fukushima meltdown goo that poisons the Pacific, would be extra in the West Coast sea radiation exposure scenario.
“Other studies show that sea originating Pu, Am and Caesium 137 and other radioactive wastes transferring across the surf line have been deposited on terrestrial produce and entered the human food webs in coastal regions of the Irish Sea, Inner Hebrides, and South West Wales which are distant from point sources of discharges,” the NFLA report continues. “In some cases those doses have been comparable to those received by populations adjacent to Nuclear Power Stations.”
The report cited information that sea spray-blown cesium 137 was found 200 kilometers from the discharge source in the New Hebrides islands in northern Scotland. The Cs-137 concentrations were so high that the bone-seeking radionuclide entered the food chain in island-grown produce so hot that the dietary doses were the same and higher than workers’ dietary doses at nuclear power plants.
Studies found that the Irish Sea has a micro layer on top of it, perhaps only thousandths of a millimeter in thickness that can get imbued with fine particulate material and its absorbed radiation. These concentrations of plutonium and americium are four to five times their concentrations in ambient seawater.
Plutonium concentrates by 26,000 times in floating algal blooms at sea says the report.
NFLA describes “the enrichment of marine aerosols (generated by bubble production in breaking waves and the surf line) with non-soluble nuclides (associated by adsorption to fine sediment particles)” as the basis for creating the hot sea spray. The aerosols enriched are a witches brew of radioactive poisons including Pu-238, Pu-239, Pu-240 and Am-241.
Some of the worst news comes in like the unperfect wave. Not only do waves help launch sea spray aloft but these “coastally generated aerosols may produce higher enrichment factors than those produced in more open sea environments,” says the report.
The 2010 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk further explored the new realities of life where the silent killer could be the very sea spray people cherish as one of the joyful wonders of nature.
“The geophysical processes involved are well described and in the case of Plutonium and Sellafield, measurements have been made which show the presence of Plutonium and other radioactive particles in marine intertidal sediment, in the air near the coast, in sheep faeces, children’s teeth and autopsy specimens taken from parts of the UK,” the Radiation Risk report reads. “The concentration of Plutonium with distance from the sea follows a trend with a sharp increase in levels within 1km of the sea falling rapidly and flattening out to a finite but reducing level up to 300km or more from the sea.”
In other words, it’s hottest at the shoreline not even taking into account this summer’s sizzling new Pacific pestilence, reactor core-hot buckyballs coming to a Southern California beach on currents from the Far East.
It will be difficult to project the health impacts, but this much is known – a 2005 National Academy of Sciences concluded that no amount of radiation is safe for humans. “The scientific research base shows that there is no threshold of exposure below which low levels of ionized radiation can be demonstrated to be harmless or beneficial,” said Richard R. Monson, the panel chairman and a professor of epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health.
And, despite UC Berkeley claims that the Fukushima radiation found in their own rainwater and food samples is equivalent to an x-ray or flight across the country, there’s a meaningful difference between external and internal radiation. External radiation exposure ends as soon as the source or subjects moves away, but internal radiation continues to irradiate as long as it remains radioactive and in the body.
Given that potential cancers can take years to develop, and will never have a bar code stating “Fukushima,” it is the perfect crime where nuclear industry and government officials convince unknowing victims to be unwitting accomplices to their own detriment.
Dale Ramicone doesn’t plan to be one of those victims and spent a considerable sum to purchase a state of the art nuclear radiation monitor to check his food.
“I think the federal government isn’t doing enough to monitor air and sea contamination,” says Ramicone. “And food contamination isn’t being addressed at all that I’m aware of. I believe they simply decided not to check for it and said as much. So that leaves it up to individuals to protect their own health and interests.”
Contact the writer and view additional materials at EnviroReporter.com.