Mar 202011
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Tonight through tomorrow we will see another winter storm. The models point to up to an inch of precipitation, but heavy wind in store, too. Personally, I’ve been thinking 4-8 inches is on the way. That seems to be the forecast trend. So, Monday will be snowy. I’m done with winter. We had serious car issues with the last round.

But, everyone seems to be more interested in Japan’s nuclear reactors and the potential for fallout in the US. Well, I have followed through on my plans for the weekend, as I explained to a friend last week. A some of you know, I spent several years in the US Navy’s Nuclear Power Program. So, I have quite a bit of hands on experience with radiation, radioactivity and nuclear reactors. Basically, my plans for the weekend were to finish starting a saltwater aquarium and get fish into it. I got most of that done yesterday. More work than I expected. I have a small pufferfish, a 6-line wrasse and a clownfish in the tank. Very cool looking fish.

Or, in other words, radioactive fallout from Japan isn’t even on my mind. Not really even as a curiosity. But, you may wonder why? Well, based on the data that ware coming out, any release has been minor so far. It could be a real problem for spinach lovers. Here is an AP article about how much spinach from Japan you would have to eat for it to be a real problem: Japan cites radiation in milk and spinach near plants. Two pounds of spinach a day for a year! I think that would kill you, regardless of the any radioactivity.

One of my pet-peeves is the misuse of nomenclature. First off, it’s nuclear. Not nucular. Jimmy Carter, also a former US Navy Nuclear Trained Officer, used to always get it wrong. nuCLEar. Second, radioactive isotopes (elements) are what is of concern in fallout. The radioactive elements in the fallout dust decay. This decay releases some form of radiation. The radiation is can be in a number of forms. So, radiation and radioactivity are not synonymous. Anyway!

Here is a link to a post about radiation amounts to help put it in perspective: Radiation Chart. At that site there is a link to a comparative chart, also shown below. The chart gives you a feel for how minor the situation is for the US.


Radiation Chart
Radiation Chart

Take a look at it. If you are a radiation worker at Fukushima, we owe you a debt of gratitude for working your butt off and being exposed to elevated levels.

Fukushima is a bad situation. But, the bigger risks are due to  loss of electrical power supply. Without electricity, food storage, vis-a-vis refrigeration, is very difficult; clean water is potentially impossible; modern healthcare is unthinkable. More people will probably die as a result of these issues than the radiation. This is not a Chernobyl. It is a mess.

What if it had been a coal-burning plant? The coal would have been washed away. The boilers may have exploded.

What if it had been an oil burning plant? The same thing.

What if it had been a natural gas plant? The gas turbine would have been contaminated with debris and destroyed.

For all these, we would have been living with their pollution already.

If you are still worried, and worrying provides you with comfort, you may want to keep a close eye on the Radiation Network site. It shows radiation levels around the country.


Radiation Network
Radiation Network

For me, I probably won’t give it another thought other than professional curiosity. Snow is on that way and that will provide more risks and troubles than radioactive fallout from Japan. Also, please consider visiting the Campfires Limited website to help prevent a repeat of the Schultz fire.

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