Tokyo radiation levels are creeping back to normal, currently at a very insignificant 0.1 uSv per hour rate. (click on image to enlarge, sources of radiation exposure information here and here)
Local Japanese milk and spinach food products were found to be contaminated by radioactive iodine which has only an 8-day half life. Thyroids of children are at risk from this type of contamination, which can easily be countered by the ingestion of stable iodine pills and tablets.
Progress continues to re-connect electrical power to the nuclear plants at the complex. Reactors and spent fuel storage ponds continue to be cooled using non-conventional means.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis has stabilized to a Level 5 on the INES scale. (click on images to enlarge, source here)
Past nuclear incidents rated using INES scale:
Scientists at Berkeley explaining San Francisco area recent radiation measurements and demonstrating the potential of nuclear fuel components melting at Japan's reactors in this video:
A video explaining the earthquake and tsunami impacts on the nuclear facilities:
Status of nuclear plants as of 10:00pm on Sunday, March 20 (source here):
Tokyo radiation levels remain slightly elevated at an approximate 0.11 uSv level - a fraction of radiation exposure received during typical dental x-ray.
Efforts are still being made to connect the nuclear plants to Japan's electric grid so that reactor cooling systems can be re-started. No major events (ie, explosions, radiation releases , etc.) occurred over last 24 hours.
Traditional media outlets ('MSM') are now receiving harsh criticism for their hysterial and misleading coverage of this event.
"Shameful media panic very slowly begins to subside"....."As one who earns his living in the media these days, I can only apologise on behalf of my profession for the unbelievable levels of fear and misinformation purveyed this week. I have never been so ashamed to call myself a journalist."
Another MSM meltdown example of incredibly bad journalism.
Summary of International Atomic Energy Agency, March 19: (click on images to enlarge)
Summary of Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), March 19:
Tokyo's radiation levels remain very low but are still elevated versus levels prior to earthquake/tsunami of March 11. Levels are hovering around 0.12 uSv, which is a fraction of radiation received from dental x-ray.
Radiation readings from the perimeter area of the multiple nuclear plants have dropped to a 30 uSv level during the day of March 18.
Examples of daily life radiation exposures. (click on image to enlarge, source here.)
U.S. radiation levels have not measurably increased as feared by most MSM alarmists. (click on image to enlarge, source here)
Per the excellent daily update from this site, the plant officials are making headway in getting control of the situation. Based on preliminary reports, the actual reactor vessels at each plant have not been breached. Officials are making efforts to restore electrical power to the plants, which will allow the reactor's cooling systems to work (since the tsunami the cooling systems have been without power).
Based on helicopter observations, none of the spent fuel rod storage ponds have lost all their cooling water. At some of the ponds the water levels are down with water temperatures rising; they are attempting various methods (helicopters, fire engines, etc.) to fill the cooling ponds back to higher levels.
Summary by plant as of 4pm Japan time on March 18. (click on image to enlarge, source here)
The Japanese nuclear crisis is still touch and go as the spent fuel rod storage ponds now appear to be the largest concern, not the reactors themselves. (click on image to enlarge, source here)
Tokyo radiation levels are still relatively low at a 0.15 uSv rate. A Radiation reading at the nuclear site's main gate late Wednesday afternoon was 1530 uSv (about a half-year's worth of natural backround radiation).
Nuclear plant deaths, missing workers, injuries and contamination as of March 17: (click on image to enlarge, source here)
An excellent March 17 update of pertinent nuclear plant happenings can be found here.
Here are some of the relevant facts concerning Japan's nuclear tsunami crisis:
1. The 40-year old Fukushima nuclear plants were struck by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that was 5 times more powerful than what these nuclear plants were designed to survive.
2. When the earthquake struck, the nuclear plants did as designed and automatically shut down the nuclear fission process.
3. An hour later, a 33-foot tsunami wave struck the nuclear facility. The reactors and containment buildings survived, but the backup diesel generators were washed away by the tsunami wave.
4. The site's battery power backup system survived both the earthquake and tsunami but was only able to provide power to the reactors' coolant system for a limited time period.
5. The mobile power generators brought to the nuclear crisis scene were unable to provide the necessary power to run the the reactors' coolant systems, which caused heat and pressure to build, even with the nuclear fission process stopped.
6. The loss of proper cooling led to a hydrogen gas buildup resulting in several explosions at both reactor and fuel storage locations.
7. Radioactive materials were released into the atmosphere from the explosions and also the purposeful venting of gases to reduce the likelihood of further explosions.
8.The total released radiation has been relatively minor and not at the levels that will cause health problems for the general populace.
9. Despite all of the above 8 points, a Chernoybl-style nuclear incident causing extreme environmental damage is highly unlikely.
10. Actual physical/human damage to Japan from earthquake: severe; Actual physical/human damage to Japan from tsunami: extremely severe; Actual damage to Japan from nuclear meltdown/radiation: almost non-existent so far.
The nuclear crisis in Japan is not over but it does appears to be creeping towards a manageable level of control, which is a testament to the overall safety of nuclear energy, even if it involves a 40-year old plant design with known disaster deficiencies (eg, placing diesel generators in direct harm's way of tsunami waves, placing spent fuel rod storage in same building as reactor, etc.).
As of Japan's early evening of March 16, the status of Japan's severely damaged nuclear reactors and used fuel storage areas can be determined from below: (click on image to enlarge, source here)
Although the situation is still bad, it would seem officials are making progress to get the nuclear crisis under control. The purple arrow on the above chart indicates the radiation levels at the nuclear plant site's border - that level reached a peak recording of 193.7 mrem level (1937 μSv/h), which is equivalent to about a half or slightly more than half of a year's exposure of natural background radiation.
The peak level of Tokyo radiation was reached on March 15 at 0.162 mrem/hour rate (1.62 μSv/h), which is significantly less radiation than eating one banana per day for a full year (36 μSv). As of evening of March 16, the level had fallen to 0.015 mrem/hour (0.15 μSv/h) rate.
Yesterday, the site's used nuclear fuel storage facilities became a problem. Due to physical damage and/or lack of cooling capability, there were fires reported near/within these facilities. For an expert explanation of this part of the crisis, go here to read.
If you are finding the MSM hysterics as less than helpful, below are links with raw sources of data and information. These sites will help eliminate the MSM calamity generated fog-of-confusion and bureaucrat bimbononsense.
For the most update information and facts regarding the crisis, they can be found here, here and here.
For an excellent daily summary and analysis, this site is proving to be one of the best.
Below is a chart from the US Center for Disease Control with examples of radiation exposure. (click to enlarge, source here)
Below is conversion chart for radiation measurement metrics. (click on image to enlarge, source here)
Thus, if we did the calculations correctly per the above conversion table, at the plant site's border these peak readings of radiation were experienced:
Read here. Recently, we had a posting on renewable energy (ethanol) and one that mentioned the great promise of thorium-based energy. A new C3 reader saw those postings and informed us of his own writings on both subjects. We can't vouch for all the very interesting content on Christopher Calder's site but to our eyes it represents a great primer for laying out the problems with renewables and the hope for newer clean, reliable and abundant energy solutions.
From the Obama's and left-liberal's energy strategy, the "Let them eat cake" strategy:
"According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, global food prices rose an incredible 40% in 2007. The World Bank states that the cost of staple foods rose by 83% during the 3 year period from 2005 to 2008. The International Food Policy Research Institute states that biofuels are responsible for rapid grain price inflation, and a detailed analysis by Don Mitchell, an internationally respected economist at the World Bank, stated that biofuels have forced global staple food prices up by 75%.....The United Nations states that its charity programs can no longer afford to feed the starving peoples of the world because of the high cost of staple foods. Mr. Jean Ziegler, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, repeatedly denounced biofuels as "a crime against humanity." The new UN food envoy, Mr. Olivier De Schuster, has called for United States and European Union biofuel targets to be abandoned, and said the world food crisis is "a silent tsunami affecting 100 million people." Oil price increases have not shrunk the human food supply, but biofuel production has. The more biofuels we produce, the less food we have to eat, because we grow biofuel crops using the same land, water, fertilizer, farm equipment, and labor we use to grow food."
On the promising energy solution that Obama, Al Gore, George Soros, Goldman Sachs and most leftist/liberals/progressives hate:
"The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) solves all of the major problems associated with nuclear power.....LFTRs only requires input of uranium or plutonium to kick-start the initial nuclear reaction, and as the fissionable material can come from either spent fuel rods or old nuclear warheads, LFTRs will inevitably be used as janitors to clean up old nuclear waste.....The cost savings of using a liquid fuel is like the difference between making soup vs. baking a wedding cake. Soup is cheap, and you can change ingredients very easily. The reactor works like a Crock-Pot; you keep the fuel cooking in the pot until it is over 99% burned, so LFTRs produce less than 1% of the long-lived radioactive waste of light water reactors, making Yucca Mountain waste storage unnecessary....."Liquid fluoride thorium reactors operate at high temperature for 50% thermal/electrical conversion efficiency, thus they need only half of the cooling required by today's coal or nuclear plant cooling towers." LFTRs will be manufactured on an assembly line, dramatically lowering costs and enabling electricity generation at a projected rate of about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is cheaper than burning coal for power."