New evidence of nuclear fuel releases found at Fukushima

Uranium and other radioactive materials, such as caesium and technetium, have been found in tiny particles released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.

This could mean the environmental impact from the fallout may last much longer than previously expected according to a new study by a team of international researchers, including scientists from The University of Manchester.

The team says that, for the first time, the fallout of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor fuel debris into the surrounding environment has been “explicitly revealed” by the study.

The scientists have been looking at extremely small pieces of debris, known as micro-particles, which were released into the environment during the initial disaster in 2011. The researchers discovered uranium from nuclear fuel embedded in or associated with caesium-rich micro particles that were emitted from the plant’s reactors during the meltdowns. The particles found measure just five micrometres or less; approximately 20 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The size of the particles means humans could inhale them.

The reactor debris fragments were found inside the nuclear exclusion zone, in paddy soils and at an abandoned aquaculture centre, located several kilometres from the nuclear plant.

It was previously thought that only volatile, gaseous radionuclides such as caesium and iodine were released from the damaged reactors. Now it is becoming clear that small, solid particles were also emitted, and that some of these particles contain very long-lived radionuclides; for example, uranium has a half-life of billions of years.

Dr Gareth Law, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester and an author on the paper, says: “Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone. Whilst it is extremely difficult to get samples from such an inhospitable environment, further work will enhance our understanding of the long-term behaviour of the fuel debris nano-particles and their impact.”

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is currently responsible for the clean-up and decommissioning process at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in the surrounding exclusion zone. Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University (Japan) led the study.

He added: “Having better knowledge of the released microparticles is also vitally important as it provides much needed data on the status of the melted nuclear fuels in the damaged reactors. This will provide extremely useful information for TEPCO’s decommissioning strategy.”

At present, chemical data on the fuel debris located within the damaged nuclear reactors is impossible to get due to the high levels of radiation. The microparticles found by the international team of researchers will provide vital clues on the decommissioning challenges that lie ahead.



Reference: The paper ‘Uranium Dioxides and Debris Fragments Released to the Environment with Cesium-Rich Microparticles from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’ is being published in Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Feb 13. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06309.

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225 thoughts on “New evidence of nuclear fuel releases found at Fukushima

  1. “uranium has a half-life of billions of years”…sounds very scary……unless you understand that uranium is everywhere with the half billion year half life. From sea water to soil. It doesn’t pose a risk. An incredibly small increase won’t change anything.

    • The bigger number, the scarier. Hydrogen halflife is at least 10 million billion billion billion years. How awful is that!

      • ” … For thousands more years, the mighty ships tore across the empty wastes of space and finally dived screaming on to the first planet they came across – which happened to be the Earth – where due to a terrible miscalculation of scale the entire battle fleet was accidentally swallowed by a small dog. …”
        ” … “Have some sense of proportion!” she [Wife] would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day. And so he built, ‘The-Total-Perspective-Vortex’. And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
        To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.”

        How to make nothing look like something seems to be a common theme at the UN also.
        However, there is an exclusion zone, and a chronic hazard to minimise exposure to, but this article sure sets an objectionably hysterical tone.
        Maybe you had to be there. Nevertheless, these meltdowns could have gotten so much worse, if cooling ponds drained. We were very lucky that they didn’t. So yes, the article tone sucks, but the danger in mid 2011 was real. We should notbforget that lesson.

      • very long half life means very low activity. What is more concerning is moderate half life isotopes which have higher activity but are still going be around for a long time on human timescales.
        These small particles seem to be the same thing that was discovered over Alaska , reported recently. Don’t know if that was the same study but just not mentioned here.

    • Especially if you’ve ever taken a gieger counter to granite counter tops. I can’t believe people willing put this in their homes without checking. Granted, doing the same thing to bananas in the super market would scare most of the population as well.

      • And don’t forget about thorium in gas lantern mantles and Potassium-40 in low-sodium salt. You can see pallets of no-sodium water softener salt (K-40) in big box stores. Also bright orange uranium glaze on old Fiesta Ware.

      • RHS, you are pointing out a bit of a peeve of mine. One where alarmists state that nuclear radiation has been detected in.””…without stating the relevance of such levels of detection. Not too long after the initial disaster occurred reports were released dictating that nuclear fall out was being detected drifting into Washington state from across the Pacific. They failed to mention that the levels detected were less than those emitted by a banana.
        The media seems all too willing to attempt to mislead the ignorant masses by omitting any relevance. I’ll be charitable and allow it may be due to their own ignorance.

      • That’s the problem with the radiation debate. A radiating granite counter top is completely different than a radioactive element that has become a part of cellular tissue via metabolism, and then decays with a one-two punch of millions to hundreds of millions of electron volts in close proximity to DNA. Of course DNA can repair itself, and the dose is the poison, but their is plenty of empirical evidence that this process can be very destructive to human health and deadly.
        And then there’s the issue of what does a decay element do to living tissue that it is part of, that due to it’s chemical nature would never have gotten there at all apart from radioactive decay.

      • Took my Geiger counter to my granite counter top.
        Air Outside: 15 cpm 0.05 uSv/h
        Air inside: 16 cpm 0.05 uSv/h
        Granite: 30 cpm 0.10 uSv/h
        Granite + paper shield: 21 cpm 0.07 uSv/h
        Bananas: 20 cpm 0.05 uSv/h
        Daring fate I am eating a banana even as I am sitting on my granite countertop. Darn no Fiesta ware.

      • @ icisil
        I don’t know how to break it to you but radiation is uptaken by all plants and animals you eat and it ends up in your body. If we put you in a lead cell and cut you open your background radiation would be exactly the same as the background enviroment you have been exposed to.
        Here try the facts as it’s all been done
        Yes your body is already doing everything you are worried about and you are a radiation polluter contaminating everything around you.

      • Bananas are radioactive because of their high potassium content (due to the natural isotope K-40). Muscle meat also contains a lot of potassium and therefore average humans have a natural K-40 activity of 4400 Bq. This is about half the total natural radioactivity of an average person of about 8000 Bq.
        Isn’t it funny that most of the radiation-frightened Greenpeace disciples don’t know that they themselves are radiation sources?

      • “but their is plenty of empirical evidence that this process can be very destructive to human health and deadly.”
        There is more evidence that low dose low dose rate radiation is not harmful to complex lifeforms like humans and mammals than… pretty much every medical fact where is the evidence is based on epidemiology. I’d say it’s the best known aspect of statistical biomed.

    • It’s true. How about lead (205Pb) with a half life of about fifteen billion years. OMG it must be really dangerous.
      There are fairly common isotopes of lead that are way more radioactive than some uranium isotopes. link
      Once again we see that the people who write press releases are pretty darn ignorant about science.

      • …or intentionally misleading, but more likely ignorant.
        “Never attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence.” Bonaparte

      • Never attribute to malice that which can easily be explained by incompetence.
        Yes, but what if lots of government money is involved? Probably both.

      • at the end of the 15 billion years, does it turn into gold? Guess we won’t be around to find out.

      • There is:
        accidental occasional incompetence (sometimes people just walk outside of their narrow academic specialization); the author of an honest error will admit it when pointed out, and will allow domain expert to have airtime (or space) to fix the record; everybody makes errors from time to time;
        – repeated incompetence (often where people spend most of their time outside their domain of competence); academic “scientists” become less careful;
        serial incompetence, with widespread disregard for scientific protocols, honesty, truthfulness (people speak about any trendy domain with zero qualification); “scientists” are seen are competent on everything (until they go against the so called “consensus” that never was);
        obstination in incompetence even in face of refutation of erroneous claims, as the authors of the claims do not even care about correcting their past obvious errors; the mass media give a pass to media darlings;
        obstination in obvious, transparent incompetence even in face of debunking of inept claims (“debunking”, not even refutation, as the claim had no scientific content and were unscientific); authors make meaningless claims, not just erroneous claims; unqualified claims are promoted, like “greatest something event ever recorded” (where the reliable historical record is limited to a few decades);
        systematic incompetence with no room for knowledge or correction: an academic “scientist” talking (insinuating he is an expert) about a domain the author doesn’t understand is the new normal);
        systemic incompetence and fraud: not only totally incompetent and careless “scientists” speak about subjects they know nothing about, the “science community” makes sure that competent people are systematically excluded or punished for speaking out.

      • Also, in the US, it’s cesium, not caesium. Those Brits are always trying to complicate things with their spelling. Haemoglobin and sulphur, indeed! 🙂

      • Those Brits are always trying to complicate things things with their spelling

        They’ve been at it for aeons.

      • Brits had a choice: complicate things with their spelling, or keep talking french. Both ways work for ruling class to fend off lower people. However, the latter requires that you speak french in the first place, which “glorious revolutionaries” didn’t, when they overturned the previous french speaking ruling class. So they had no choice, actually.
        Hence the complicate things.

    • It annoys me when someone points out the “danger” of radioisotopes with half-lives that are so long that they are practically stable. Uranium is doubly un-scary, because, along with its half-life being long enough that the Universe has been around for only three U238 half-lives, it is an alpha emitter. Alpha particles are so strongly interactive that the only way to get a strong dose of radiation from U238 is to eat the stuff, so the emitted alphas do not need to penetrate the dead layer of skin.
      The only reason we know about radioactivity, at all, is that the decay chain from uranium includes a number of radioisotopes with short half-lives.

  2. So they found radioactive particles? How much? Inconsequential amounts can be found, and have no real effect, unless one gets carried away with a linear-no threshold model. My off the wall guess is the levels are comparable to living on granite rather than loam.

    • Well ‘hot’ particles are different. They’ll burn if you inhale them. I don’t want a single one. And I live in a place with a high natural background uranium and some lovely Soviet shit called Chernobyl fallout.

      • As every toxicologist will tell you, “It’s the dose that makes the poison”. One micro particle every couple of cubic meters? Not a problem. Looks like a cloud of pollen floating by? Time to reconsider.

      • D. J. Hawkins February 28, 2018 at 11:54 am
        As every toxicologist will tell you, “It’s the dose that makes the poison”.
        That reminds me of a joke.

        We heard of a guy in Florida, the poor man, he died of an overdose of homeopathic medicine. He forgot to take his pill. link

      • A hot particle is the one very active particle that irritates one spot in your lung until you’ll get a cancer.
        Radon is another issue. We have pipes to lead it away from under the house. We get much more radon dosing here than you get in Fukushima, but none jumps here. 100 Bq/m3 or 1000 Bq/m³, not a big deal unless you’re a smoker and an asbestos installer. It multiplies for some reason.

      • ‘It’s the dose that makes the poison’
        In case of clumps of highly active substances from inside the fuel rods, like we had from Chernobyl, this is like saying the dose makes the knife. For my heart, one dagger is just one dagger too much.
        It don’t know how active particles they found, not necessarily very. But surely I rather ingest a small dose of Cesium-137 than inhale a physically stable particle containing quickly disappearing radio isotopes in my lung.
        LNT model is an interesting controversy. I think there is a lot of evidence it is just that, a model that in some circumstances produces good enough estimates.

      • You mean like solar radiation?
        HOLY COW there is an unshielded fusion reactor irradiating the inhabitant of earth form outer space!

      • If I inhale a nuclide that decays with a photon, I’m much better off than one that decays with an alpha or beta particle since the photon more than likely will zip right through my body but the alpha or beta particle will interact with something important inside me.

      • Both. Polonium in and of itself is poisonous although most are concerned about its radioactivity… It is an alpha emitter. Po210 has a half life of about 130 days so it decays fairly quickly. That means you can get a high radiation dose from a small quantity. As long as alphas stay outside the body, you’re fine. If they get inside the body, they can cause a lot of damage. QF for alphas is typically around 20.

      • If the poison kills you long before cancer has a chance to develop, does the radiation damage really matter?

  3. Fail to see what new information this article is adding. Not one single sentence on dose or risk increase. Probably because the authors are not experts in this field. So, there were radioactive aerosols after the accident? We already knew that…..

  4. The last info I had was that most of the initially vacated land has been repopulated and the area now off limits is relatively small. One can point out that over 400 nuclear reactors have been operating for over 60 years and only a few major accidents have occurred and for most, there were no harmful effects (Three Mile Island, and Fukushima). Chernobyl remains the only case where humans have died (roughly 27 death directly the result of the meldown, explosion, an unknown number affected by the resulting radiation) . Data about Fukushima is relatively irrelevant in any debate about nuclear power going fowrard – even the most dangeous reactor technology – the large
    light water or pressured water reactors, has evolved into Generation 3 and 3+ technologies which are close to being inherently sare, while the far less expensive molten salt small modular reactors definitely are inherently safe simply by their very nature – it’s impossible for much of anything bad to happen, even if the reactor core split open, an impossibility considering the small pressures involved, which eliminate any thoughts of a radioactive cloud of some sort being emitted. Even the electrical turbine side of the plant contains non-radiative water used for heat transfer. And the fuel is very proliferation resistant. Molten salt reactors are walk away safe – no need for electricity or water or human intervention for them to power down in complete safety.

    • Over a thousand people have died as a result of Fukushima and many more from Chernobyl although this was from the evacuation and the stresses that affected many, particularly the uprooted elderly. Radiation related deaths Fukushima 0, Chernobyl maybe 90. A significant increase in thyroid cancer near Chernobyl but surprisingly no statistically significant increase in leukaemia. Long term 80 y estimate for Chernobyl (based on linear no threshold models), a low of 4000 deaths to a high paranoid 33000 deaths. These deaths will always be conjectural as they cannot be observed against the many millions that will die of cancer from other causes during that time. Lots of evidence from studies on radiation related hormesis studies that our naturally DNA repair mechanisms will significantly reduce that hypothetical mortality.

      • Whereas I’ll always be quick to point out that radiation is not quite the monster it’s regularly made out to be, I do think it’s important to acknowledge the full realities (as we understand them). Case in point: the somatic effects of radiation exposure to young children, including (and especially) unborn children. These are serious dangers and should not be taken lightly. The stats from the Chernobyl disaster are not complete without taking into account the birth defect rate and childhood illness/cancer rates resulting from this exposure.

      • Teratogenic effects are largely the stuff of Hollywood. Actual testing shows little effect lost among the natural high rate of mutations.

      • Actually, they were words in a script said by an actor PRETENDING to be Adm. Yamamoto. Much like the “quote” attributed to Sarah Palin “I can see Russia from my house” was actually said by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live. But then, many Americans can not tell the difference between TV/Movies and real life.

  5. It would be nice if the reporters/writers would identify which isotopes are being found. Not all isotopes damage equally. If the element isn’t metabolized by the body, much less damage is done than by elements which are metabolized.
    Granted, if they were to identify the isotopes, they’d have to acknowledge that most of the initial isotopes released had such short half lives that they have decayed beyond our ability to measure already.

      • Those same isotopes have also been found in Washington State, Nevada and even Canada! So WHAT! Are they any more or less dangerous than any other isotope ‘next door”? If you can find a detector sensitive enough you can find virtually any isotope, anywhere. If one atom isn’t enough to do damage, how many does it take – and under what conditions does it create this ‘damage’?

      • Isotopes of plutonium, uranium, cesium, strontium, iodine have all been detected in Japan

        Only your demonstrable ignorance of what an isotope is protects you from understanding what an unbelievably stupid sentence that is.

      • RHS asked which isotopes, not isotopes of which elements.
        You are probably out of your depth, icisil

  6. Turn out that it’s vitally important to get additional funding for this new concern!!! (Can’t imagine one of our congressional committees not being scared instantly into appropriating more funds for such on-going study.)

  7. If it was so hard to detect, then the obvious corollary is that it probably isn’t harmful.
    Much of today’s environmental alarmism is really just built on improved analytical chemistry techniques, not a worsening of environmental conditions.

    • Yes, just because you can measure it doesn’t mean you have to fix it. Motto of Material Sciences: “There’s a little bit of everything in something, and a little bit of something in everything.”

    • It hasn’t been hard to detect at all. One nuclear engineer traveled to Japan and took random soil samples around Tokyo, brought them back to the US and had them tested, and all had radiation levels that would require them to be handled as radioactive waste in the US. Another scientist had a resident of Tokyo send him the air conditioning filter from her high-rise flat. He tested it and found all kinds of nasty stuff.

      • @icisil
        You made me laugh, so just leaving “a contaminated area” made him feel better.
        People who witness traumatic events often suffer from a form of Munchausen syndrome along with PTSD and a number of other problems, it’s fairly common.
        The problem with that sort of story is you can’t distinguish if he was really sick or just making himself sick as that requires a proper diagnosis.

      • LdB, you could probably get a job in Japan writing brochures for the government. You would fit right in with the guy who was claiming that only people who don’t smile get sick from radiation.

      • Gentle reminder that Tokyo is over 200 miles south west of Fukushima, and that the prevailing winds around Japan blow perpendicular to that.

      • @icisil
        You are coming across like an anti-vaxer, lots of emotional nonsense arguments. I have no view on the situation either way but you are spreading myth and innuendo as if they are facts.
        I am acting like a scientist does looking at the facts.

      • Look up psychosomatic illnesses.
        Radiation levels were never high enough to cause radiation sickness anywhere outside the core itself.
        If he got better immediately after leaving Japan, that’s proof it was all in his head.

      • And there is a story of a person who had decreased physiological “constants” (variable in medical speech) just by visiting Chernobyl and receiving a trivial dose of radiation (he probably got more rads during flight).
        The human mind IS powerful.

      • schitzree, winds shift, and they did during this disaster. Watch a video of reactor 3 blowing up. The smoke was headed towards Tokyo.

      • No Mark, he didn’t get better immediately after he left Japan. It took weeks. There are many stories of people who had the same symptoms that he did that are identical with radiation poisoning symptoms. I seriously doubt that so many people had bleeding noses, metallic taste in mouth, and blackened skin (examples of a few of those symptoms) due to stress.

      • One nuclear engineer traveled to Japan and took random soil samples around Tokyo, brought them back to the US and had them tested, and all had radiation levels that would require them to be handled as radioactive waste in the US. Another scientist had a resident of Tokyo send him the air conditioning filter from her high-rise flat. He tested it and found all kinds of nasty stuff.

        This is what we call bullshit, but not in the Frankfurter way.
        ‘one engineer’, ‘radiation level’, ‘waste’, ‘nasty stuff’
        No numbers, no sources. I believe you believe it is true and relevant, I believe if the story were worth of checking, it were just as fake as in ‘fake news’.

        Japan got sick with symptoms of radiation poisoning after the accident. I followed one guy who was blogging right after it happened and he didn’t feel well until he fled Japan.

        Radiation sickness? I got more stuff at me in 1986 from the bastard lying Soviets. Nobody gets radiation-sick from these amounts.
        But people do get mentally sick.

        There are many stories of people who had the same symptoms that he did that are identical with radiation poisoning symptoms.

        I don’t doubt therexare stories. But there are no documented cases, just personal stories of people feeling ill, nobody measuring radionuclides in other than trace levels in urine. Feel free to correct me, but you have is stories of experiences.

      • Wow, the surface winds at Fukushima, were for a few minutes travelling towards Tokyo, therefore the radiation from Fukushima had no trouble reaching Tokyo.
        You are beginning to sound like a warmist.

      • MarkW, the explosions occurred over several days. Radioactive plumes went due west (that the USS Reagan sailed through), northwest and south during those times.

      • The point is that a momentary change in surface wind levels is not sufficient to move anything all the way to Tokyo.

      • And he never quoted a single location or a concentration of any spe cific isotope. number. I read that piece and I don’t know what it was intended to be, but it wasn’t science

  8. It has a variable character and environmentally diffused. Quality and concentration matter.
    This reminds me of the so-called “green house” gas theory, where characterization in isolation cannot be accurately extrapolated (or inferred) to a general behavior in the wild.

    • Correct. Because nobody did die or suffer radiation sickness from Fukushima. Unfortunately people like icsil above still believe people suffered radiation poisoning, without supplying any evidence at all. Apart from a bloke with a cat who apparently says he felt a bit better after leaving Japan. That is what many environmentalists consider to be proof of something bad, while simultaneously ignoring the tens of thousands of documented deaths due to the Tsunami and exposure to winter weather.

      • If you are suffering from radiation sickness, you don’t get better just hours after leaving the “contaminated” zone.

  9. Oh sigh!!!!
    “for example, uranium has a half-life of billions of years.”
    Means that its not going to be dangerous to human health.
    Long lived particles – half life or not, aren’t dangerous – just the opposite.
    Its those short lived particles that ARE dangerous and ARE concerning to human health.

    • So what is the half-life of a black hole? It may be very long so it shouldn’t be dangerous, but in actuality I’m pretty sure it will absolutely rip you to shreds.

      • @MarkW
        If you count Hawking radiation, which indeed makes them disappear after some time (depending on the mass, could be much more that the age of the universe, or much less that a radioactive element half-life), they qualify as radioactive.

      • Hawking radiation won’t include alpha radiation, but beta and gamma.

        paqyfelyc, I’d expect very small black holes would radiate lots of different particles? Just a gut feeling from a person who doesn’t know the exact algebra.

  10. To be quite honest I think they spat out more uranium on Serbia and Iraq in the form of shell noses than they ever got loose in Japan.
    What’s “depleted” mean anyhow! Ha!
    It means we can throw masses of the stuff at people if the military like, but not if it’s civvies involved!
    ….but hey wasn’t Japan the place they dropped 2 nukes anyway in 1945??
    I don’t hear anything about 1 billion years stuff over those cities, and only about 5% of the PU and U got used.
    The rest got chucked into the environment.

      • “Depleted” uranium has had most of the U235 isotope (half-life ~700 million years) removed, leaving a higher percentage of the U238 isotope (still radioactive, half-life ~4.5 billion years) than is naturally occurring — about 99.8% versus the 99.3% natural concentration.

      • DJ,
        True but it should be noted that DU (Depleted Uranium) is benign and employed widely for civilian uses, such as ballast in commercial aircraft. Years ago when a jet liner crashed on approach into LAX due to a mid-air collision with a personal aircraft, the media was screaming that Uranium was being transported by a commercial civilian transport. It was quickly pointed out that almost all commercial jets use DU as ballast in the empennage, but no retractions or corrections were made.

      • Depleted Uranium is a heavy metal and having it built up in one’s system isn’t a good thing.
        However, dying of heavy metal poisoning is different than dying of radiation poisoning.

      • RHS, uranium is not a heavy metal that accumulates significantly in living organisms, compared to say cadmium or mercury. It’s not the atomic mass of heavy metals that makes them toxic. Some metals do accumulate, because of their chemistry, and some don’t. From a chemist’s point of view, metals like uranium are really quite dull and uninteresting. That’s also related to why uranium ends up in sea-water.

      • “Ballast” and aircraft are kind of antithetical, if you need to change the center of gravity on an aircraft the last thing you do is add dead weight. Spent uranium is used as counterweights in aircraft control surfaces to balance the assembly, preventing flutter. It is very dense, therefore compact, and strong.

      • @rocketscientist;
        I remember looking in a theater magazine once and someone was selling encapsulated DU slugs for use as counterweights for scenery fly systems. Much more compact than steel plates.

    • Depleted Uranium is nearly pure U238, the U235 has been removed. Natural Uranium consists of about 99.27% U238 and about 0.72% U235.

      • Uranium is strongly attracted to apatite (calcium phosphate) which is what your bones and teeth are made of. Depleted or not, it is not a good thing to have accumulate in your body.
        Phosphate deposits contain on average around 0.05% of U3O8. This is where Israel gets the uranium for the nuclear power plant and the weapons it doesn’t acknowledge that it has. It’s funny that the phosphate mines in Florida don’t extract uranium (which is dead easy, it dissolves in dilute sulphuric acid). They just leave it lying around.

      • Uranium is strongly attracted to apatite (calcium phosphate) which is what your bones and teeth are made of. Depleted or not, it is not a good thing to have accumulate in your body.

        Yes, it is chemically poisonous heavy metal. It is neither necessary, as iron and copper — which are also poisonous.

    • Depleted uranium is uranium that has less U-235 than natural occurring uranium. Thus, it is actually more dangerous for its toxicity than for its radioactivity, but still less toxic than many other heavy metals.
      Atomic bombs spread undetonated fuel –which was a small amount to begin with– over a huge area and even across the planet so it is very diluted. A melt down involves many times more fuel than inside a bomb and is concentrated from a steady point source.

      • I think you’re wrong thinking I’m wrong.

        When depleted uranium munitions penetrate armor or burn, they create depleted uranium oxides in the form of dust that can be inhaled or contaminate wounds.

      • I don’t know we’re you got that quote, but it’s worded very oddly. It would be Uranium Oxide, not Depleted Uranium Oxide. It would need to penetrate AND burn, not or. (if it penetrates, it IS burning) And burning Uranium would produce fumes, not dust.
        Finally, from everything I’ve read Uranium or Uranium Oxide has a similar toxicity to lead.
        Needless to say, if DU or lead bullets are flying around, you’ve probably got bigger problems then how toxic the fumes are.

      • OK, here.

        According to a report issued summarizing the advice of the doctors, “Inhalation of insoluble uranium dioxide dust will lead to accumulation in the lungs with very slow clearance—if any. … Although chemical toxicity is low, there may be localised radiation damage of the lung leading to cancer.” The report warns that “All personnel … should be aware that uranium dust inhalation carries a long-term risk … [the dust] has been shown to increase the risks of developing lung, lymph and brain cancers.”[87] In 2003, the Royal Society called, again, for urgent attention to be paid to the possible health and environmental impact of depleted uranium, and added its backing to the United Nations Environment Programme’s call for a scientific assessment of sites struck with depleted uranium.[88] In early 2004, the UK Pensions Appeal Tribunal Service attributed birth defect claims from a February 1991 Gulf War combat veteran to depleted uranium poisoning.[89][90] Also, a 2005 epidemiology review concluded: “In aggregate the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU.”[10] Studies using cultured cells and laboratory rodents continue to suggest the possibility of leukemogenic, genetic, reproductive, and neurological effects from chronic exposure.[5]

      • @icisil
        Just write off “insoluble uranium dioxide”, you have an equally true story. Dust inhalation is no good, and is known source of professional diseases for each and every trade involved, including bakers (flour), carpenters (sawdust), metal workers (metal and metal oxide dust), miners (silicosis, the most known of the class), cotton workers (!), etc. It is also part of the toxicity of smoking.
        So what?
        You are just triggered by “uranium” and “radiation” keyword, but I advise you against sniffing flour just as much as sniffing uranium dust.

    • @Wryley,
      Yes, carrying ballast into the sky is not preferred, but it is often necessary due to the imbalance and CG margins, required in commercial transports. When have you every heard an airline assigning seats by passenger weight? Often CG placard limits are attempted to be attained through position of luggage containers, but would not be possible without the counterweight being in the tail. The other reason why ballast sometimes is added to the plane is de to block upgrades to systems that move the CG of the existing design beyond limits.

      • Please,
        Passengers in large aircraft , and baggage are assigned by position within the airframe to adjust CG, and all handled by a computer program. Aft CG loading is desirable from an efficiency standpoint but not necessarily a given. Small aircraft sometimes need ballast when worst case CG limits are exceeded in single pilot and maximum/minimum fuel loads depending on how badly the aircraft was designed in the first place. Doubt very much depleted uranium ever used as ballast in any commercial aircraft.

  11. The average concentration of uranium in soil in your garden is about 2 ppm, which is richer than the level of gold in many gold mines. Many other soils may have higher levels from underlying U-rich rocks like granite.
    Then, because natural uranium is in secular equilibrium with the daughter radioisotopes, there is an equal amount of radioactivity from radium, polonium etc as there is of uranium. In soil the equilibrium may be disrupted by weathering and water ingress, but that can mean more daughter element radioactivity not less if the uranium is leached out selectively.
    The Fukushima mess is pretty horrible but wolf-crying hysteria sure ain’t a helpful approach to take.

    • There are over 300 commercial reactors and many more military and academic reactors operating world-wide. Nuclear energy is not inherently safe, but it can be safely managed.

      • But nuclear is pretty much safest of all means of producing electricity. You just sum the dead for any other form of energy, and you’ll see it. This is pretty much like flying is really safe, compared to driving a car, let alone walking the same miles.

    • After 70 years of use and only two major incidents, it actually seems very safe. Then when you consider that those incidents were avoidable, involved old technology, and new reactors being built this very moment are essentially impossible to melt down, you are very wrong.

      • That may be so; I don’t know. However, before any new reactors are built, all of the spent fuel rods sitting in cooling pools at the existing nuke plants need to be put into dry storage. The last thing we need is open air burning of fuel rods. That would be disastrous.

      • Some guys cleaning up the place recently got contaminated with plutonium. Inhaled it. No one told them an accident occurred and they tracked the stuff throughout the job site, to their vehicles, and home with them.

      • icisil, just because something is detectable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is harmful.
        Thus the reason why radio-imaging techniques are used in medicine is precisely because it allows clinicians to usefully detect radioactive isotopes at incredibly low concentrations that do not cause harm to the patient.

      • Let me see if I have this straight. One site that reprocessed power rods had a problem.
        Therefore all reprocessing is too dangerous to contemplate.
        As always, Rob goes out of his way to demonstrate his inability to do even simple logic.

      • These sites are covered with radiation sensors. You have to pass by them when you leave the work site.
        If they didn’t have enough “plutonium” on them to trip the sensors, then the amounts they had on them was barely detectable.

    • Nuclear energy is a lot safer than every other form of energy generation, and it’s getting safer as newer designs are brought on line.

      • Which is why old sites are retired before they reach the point where embrittlement etc can become a problem.

      • Procedures for monitoring and inspecting the pipes for corrosion and embrittlement are part of the licensing process.

      • A vulnerability of fission power is that it’s done in a few turbines and even fewer sites and it wouldn’t take much to sabotage a turbine or a site, causing maintenance difficulties and a lot of media focus.
        A jellyfish invasion stopped one French plant. I doubt jellyfishes can be weaponized but some petrol on the sea might cause the same effect.
        There was a sabotage in the Belgium reactor Doel 4 with the lubricant of the turbine. There high power turbines elements aren’t replaceable on the spot.
        Last year there was a bunch of nuclear plant fly by in France by drones. “Concerned” people were concerned drones could be used to bring arms, explosives to people in the plant.
        Another issue is that invasion by Greenpeace is treated as non hostile even when it is by violent means like destroying a barrier. What if Greenpeace was infiltrated by terrorists?

    • And neither is a wind turbine. They can catch fire-fall to the ground, they can chop up your light airplane to bits. Scary stuff.
      You want safe? Hide in a cave. But watch out for bats… they carry diseases….
      i.e. nothing about life is safe depending how you define safe.

    • Its a bloody sight safer on the record than windmills and solar panels and coal and gas.. Don’t even get me started in hydroelectricity – 200,000 dead in a single accident?
      The TOTAL number of people including Chernobyl who have died from nuclear power radiations is less than 100.
      Ever. Your life expectancy as a nuclear power worker is in fact higher than average.
      Do you know how many people die from radiation due to the energy source of renewable energy?
      In Britain its 3000 people per year. Who die from skin cancer as a result of exposure to sunlight.
      You are more likely to die fitting solar panels to rooves than working in a nuclear power station.

  12. I don’t get this. There was an explosion and a fire. Of course there will be particles. What’s all the fuss about? Doesn’t sound too alarming to me. There is considerable experience in cleaning up contamination like that.

    • There was an explosion OUTSIDE the containment vessel. It was from hydrogen build up from the steam produced as the reactor over heated from loss of cooling. That shouldn’t have released any Uranium even if some of the fuel had melted down, which I don’t think happened until later on.
      Frankly, by now I just assume anyone writing this kind of study is twisting the facts. They say they’ve ‘found’ microscopic traces of Uranium. They don’t say how much higher above background levels it is. Or IF it is. It’s the kind of stunt I’ve come to expect from them.

      • Unfortunately, there are some people who are absolutely convinced that if radiation can be detected, no matter how little, it’s going to kill them.

      • Unfortunately, there are some people who are absolutely convinced that if radiation can be detected, no matter how little, it’s going to kill them.

        Once upon a time, there was a war, in which two atomic bombs were dropped. Most people near it died instantly from gamma radiation – heat and light burned them to a crisp. Those that didn’t, got blown to bits by the shock-wave a few seconds later. However some people – a small number in comparison – died weeks or months later from what was called ‘radiation sickness’.
        meanwhile back in England, girls who painted radium onto the dials of aircraft instruments to make them glow in the dark, were showing up with lip and mouth cancers, especially if they licked the brushes they were using, to moisten them.
        The idea that radiation below the level where it killed you instantly, could be dangerous, was born.
        moving on a few ears, and the Cold war means that reactors are in play to breed plutonium for bombs, and a massive propaganda exercise by a very very scared soviet union, is competing for the hearts and minds of the Europeans, who had always been left leaning anyway. The CND and other Russian funded communist inspired organisations are born, whose explicit purpose is to make nuclear weapons and reactors so scary that the enemy’s populations will suppress them by application of democratic political pressure. This is not hard, as the naturally stupid are attracted to the Left.
        Meanwhile coupling reactors up to steam turbines to get rid of the waste heat and make some money is a great idea, counter-propaganda, and so commercial civil nuclear power is born.
        Obviously, since very high levels of radiation were known to kill, and chronic high level exposure to radioactive isotopes had been shown to cause cancer, some operational standards were needed. But what? short of subjecting humans to protracted doses over time to find out, no one actually knew what the long term effects of low dosage radiation were.
        In the end they played safe. They simply drew a straight line between the dose tat had a 50% chance of killing you, and zero, and then reduced the dose to such a level that you had a one in a billion chance of dying over a lifetime of receiving that dose, asked the reactor people if that was achievable, and they said yes, and that became the ‘government standard for radiation safety’. So small that no one would die, ever. And no one did.
        This was a huge problem for the communist propagandists, but they scratched their arses and had a brainwave. This could be spun..into a statement ‘your own government’s regulations admit that there is no ‘safe’ level of radiation’.
        And in fact that was true. One in a billion was not zero.
        As the cold ar wore on, the use of nuclear weapons became strategically far less important than smart weapons, Its better to deliver a tonne of TNT to within 5 metres than 50kt of nuke somewhere in a mile radius. a depleted uranium shell hitting a tank is more effective than a 5kt battleground nuke at 500 yards.
        so the impetus to nuclear power waned as well, There was enough coal and gas anyway, and building reactors to the ridiculously high and ever higher standards that enemy propaganda had forced governments to adopt, was extremely expensive and with interest rates going through the roof..that was the end of civil nuclear power in the West.
        Meanwhile however, nuclear medicine was being used extensively, and people were getting subjeted to high doses of radiation – higher than anyone but an airline pilot had been subjected to, and data was beginning to emerge on the long term effects of radiation in high doses. And the first idea that got thrown out was the idea of a ‘lifetime cumulative dose’. Cancer patients were getting blasted with enough radiation over several sessions that would kill them in a single dose. It seemed some kind of threshold effect might be in play. Followups for people receiving radiation therapy showed that if they survived the initial cancer, they did have slight increase – 15% or so greater – chance of getting another unrelated cancer decades later. After having been subjected the near lethal radiation, just a 15% change after say 15 years…
        Then investigations into the effect of radiation on cells at the a level in Petri dishes revealed why. DNA is a double helix. If one half is damaged by radiation, the cell suicides because the pairs don’t match. only if BOTH sides receive identical damage will a mutation occur..a potential cancer. DNA dos parity checking. Anyone who has e.g. compared digital radio to analogue radio will know that whereas analogue radio degrades and gets noisier and more fuzzy the higher the noise level is, digital is different. It just keeps on giving good reception until the error rate is so great that the error correction breaks down, and the signal is completely lost.
        So with DNA, cells heal at low levels of radiation and there is no lasting damage whatsoever. Only above a certain dose threshold does the actual chance of long term damage occur, There is pretty much a ‘safe level for radiation’.
        But that’s all science stuff.Politically the old lies still hold sway…
        The whole Green movement is in fact the arse end of a massive soviet propaganda effort from the cold war. The soviets set out to undermine at every level the culture and traditions of the west, and whilst they lost the economic cold war, they won the cultural one. The corrosive lies that were generated to bring down the West have been taken up by the Left as a means to gain political power, and by their crony capitalists to make money out of stupid people.
        Welcome to GreenPeace, Renewable Energy, Cultural Marxism, gender politics, gay marriage,animal rights, and an irrational fear of carbon dioxide and nuclear power.
        Collateral damage from last centuries war effort. We were all maimed,and we are still maimed.
        Its no longer affectation either. More than at any time since the end of the cold war, does World Communism pose such a huge threat.
        It isn’t even pretending its for your own good anymore either. It’s all about an elite grabbing power and hanging on to it.

      • True. However, I would guess that due to the core meltdown and the associated loss of control, there would be some leakage of particles into the turbines. This was a BWR without any heat exchangers between the reactor and turbines. I suppose there would have been valves protecting against this scenario but since everything else went kaput on that day…

  13. So how do they differentiate between the materials found now since they looked for them and the ones that were there before? Do they wave some special flag to say we are the particles from the nuclear power plant versus the previously detonated atom bomb, surley they cant determine the age that closely with that kind of half life. Give me a break.

    • With the right equipment you tell the type of radiation , alpha, beta, gamma, neutron, and the enrgy level of the radiation. With those two pieces of information you can determine the radioactive isotope. If you know the isotope, you tell if it is a fission product, likely to be fuel or naturally occuring.

      • I can agree with that, but still doesn’t answer how they know if it was there before the accident or after? In any event they didn’t state health effects of the minute amount they found. Thanks

      • If it’s not a naturally occurring isotope, then there can be only a couple of likely sources. Either Fukishima or fallout from the bomb blasts from WWII.

  14. I’ve always found it strange, according to the big bang theory, that the universe started with nothing heavier than helium, but now there are so many heavy elements — the Earth is estimated to consist of 35% iron.
    This clearly suggests that heavy elements, all the way up to U-238, are being created faster than they are destroyed and the universe will someday consist mostly of these heavy elements, in about 10^1500 years when the universe might actually have iron stars. Well, that or the big bang is wrong.

    • you can calculate the bottom of the energy well of elements, and it indeed is around iron.
      Everything lighter tend to undergo fusion.
      Everything heavier tend to undergo fission, and is created only in very special condition in Novas
      There may be some bodies made of mostly iron, but they won’t be “stars” as iron cannot be burned in nuclear reaction to produce energy.

      • What is the upper limit for a star, how much metals it may contain? I’m visualizing a start that’s mass is 50% iron; I’m sure it would have a strong gravitational pull compared to metal-free star. So the star could be much smaller in diameter and higher in density. Would it be an ideal red dwarf? (sorry the doubly discriminating red dwarf, I meant of course a Texan person with shorter than average stature)

  15. The worst discovery ever made was the microscope that allowed, terrified, grant seeking scientists to declare every single part of life deadly and horrible. Yes, they enabled the identification of viruses, etc, but the ultimate outcome was to terrify everyone on the planet (watch Dr. Oz, if you can, exploiting the daylights out of this). They should at the very least have warning labels and be controlled devices. If terror is written into your grant request, no microscope.)

    • Sheri, I know what you mean. Sometimes I think climate scientists should be legally banned from using computers above a certain capacity until they can show they have learned how to not misuse them as a way of abusing the public’s trust.

    • On micro-quantities of radiation: for a while, I was walking around with a few milligrams or so of radioactive Iodine in my body. This was a medical treatment (Brachytherapy) for prostate cancer, which was successful. Now, what is the comparison between life-saving and ‘dangerous’ amounts of radiation? Or is it all in the minds of the panic-mongers?

  16. At present, chemical data on the fuel debris located within the damaged nuclear reactors is impossible to get due to the high levels of radiation.

    I can’t believe they do not have robots to retrieve samples.

  17. It is sad that the sane skeptical thinking of some people have transformed into complete denial of anything man-made that causes harm. The level of radiation in your granite benchtop is not dangerous because that object is to big to fit in your cells and cause harm. However, the same level of radiaton from a nanoscale object that ends up in your braincells is going to cut of a few decades of your life, the remaining time will mostly be spent as a cucumber.

  18. The “banana dose” comes in quite handy here. Yes there have been found fish in the pacific with radiocpactive tracers, however, a banana (being rich in potassium) has a far higer dise epand yet there is no heakth limit on eating banana’s.
    one banana, at most, one microsievert or 1 μSv (1)
    To die from a single exposure (within days): 10 Gy= 10Sv (2)
    To start having symptoms from chronic exposure: 0.1 Gy/yr for at least 7 years
    How many bananas do you have to eat at once to die? 10Sv/1μSv= 10.000.000: Ten million bananas
    How many bananas do you have to eat to start having symptoms? 274 bananas a day for 7 years.

    • @ Hans Erren
      Calculations are totally bunk if based on the ideas that radiations are systematically harmful and that the harm is proportional to dose. They omit the FACT that small dose radiations are health beneficial. Last time I check, all the thermal stations have roof-high doses of radioactivity, particularly radon and radium and nobody contests the benefits they have on patients.
      The hormesis effect is a fact of life, it applies to everything, from alcohol to physical exercices and radioativity is no exception, except in the twisted mind of junk scientists and pathological alarmists. It’s egregious to ignore it, particularly when the immune system stimulation by radiations is a well-known mecanism.

  19. Re particle size. It may be 1/20 or 5% the size of a human hair but if it were “one times less” let alone twenty, it’s size would be zero.

    • There actually are a few people living in the Chernobyl exclusion zone who refused to leave after the accident along with many other animals and plants. Living there would not be my choice but its not a completely sterile place.

    • Actually, people are moving back into the area around Chernobyl. There are also people who go there to hunt, as the wildlife has expanded dramatically in recent decades.

      • Link via Wikipedia:
        Zone suffered a complete loss of conifers with partial damage to hardwoods (the so-called “Red forest”). Scholars estimate that the level of absorbed doses of external gamma radiation exposure in 1986-1987 was 8000 – 10000, with the maximum capacity of the external dose was 500 mR/h and more. This total area of this zone is approximately 400 hectares.
        Can’t see any reason to doubt it. I certainly wouldn’t like to live there.

      • I’m guessing that either you didn’t read the whole article, or are just cherry picking the parts that seem to support your agenda.
        Yes, trees did die. In the first few months. They have grown back since.
        That’s the thing about high radioactivity levels, they never last long.
        Yes, the people did leave, but they, just like the animals and plants, are coming back.

      • “This total area of this zone is approximately 400 hectares.”
        400hectares = 4km² = a 2 km square. An area roughly equal to central Park of New York have been striped off of conifers (a well know endangered specie, I guess). Wow. The whole Earth is in danger, for sure, and the whole population must know about it and be alarmed and contribute BILLIONS to cope with this …
        That’s the thing with you greeniards. You have no sense of proportion, and when caught the hand in the bag spreading falsehoods, you double-down instead of just adjusting your beliefs to basics fact like “wildlife has expanded dramatically in recent decades”. Dogma and doxa, no logos.

    • Courageous Leo. You might be a bit lonely though. I hear Fukushima is lovely this time of year too.

  20. Our church has been taking kids in every year from Belarus for the last 7 years. The kids come here for the summer to get away from the radiation affects of Chernobyl. We have been told that by removing the kids for the summer, the long term impacts on their blood is reduced dramatically. The program is designed to take kids as early as we can get them and take them in every year until they become 18. We get about 30 a year. We have been told that by taking them as early as we can as they grow we are increasing the likely hood that they won’t develop a long term health issue’s related to radiation.

    • Please don’t believe everything you are told about radiation.
      However, I don’t want to discourage you from performing charitable acts. Showing concern and helping children from a region where people are likely much poorer than you, will have a good chance of improving their prospects in life. You just don’t need to be frightened by stories about radiation in order to help other humans.

    • Have you actually done any actual research to find out how much the radiation in these areas has increased post Chernobyl?
      If you do, you’ll find out that for most of that country, the extremely tiny increase disappeared years ago.

    • you have been told a bunch of cr@p.
      Interesting use of teh passive…who told you?
      some lefty inspired NGO or charity run by a failed political science graduate?

  21. Are they absolutely sure these particles came from the reactors? I was under the impression that none of the containment buildings had been breached. Isn’t it far more likely that these particles are from the spent fuel rods that were stored in cooling ponds external to the containment buildings. Several of these caught on fire after the rods had boiled off all the cooling pond water, if I recall correctly, and the first on site response following the reactor melt-downs was to pump tons of salt water into those cooling ponds to re-submerge the spend rods. Anyway, might not the smoke from those spent fuel rod fires have carried all these particles?

    • the hydrogen that blew the top off came from water reacting with red hot zirconium, so the cooling pipes that go into the reactor cool the core and in fact breach the containment were where the hydrogen got out and that would have been carrying micro particles of whatever.
      If they had been allowed to vent that hydrogen of course, there would have been less release as the explosion would never have happened.

    • Reactor 3 wasn’t just a hydrogen explosion. I think there was first a hydrogen explosion and then what some think was a steam explosion coupled with a critical excursion. A lot of material was ejected into the atmosphere.

    • Reactor 3 reportedly has a long vertical crack in the containment vessel. It was a MOX fueled reactor; plutonium was ejected up to a mile away. In the picture below, the hydrogen explosion didn’t even get above the 100-meter exhaust stack, but the reactor 3 detonation cloud reached 3x that. The oval just above the building’s left roof corner was a bright flash, which didn’t occur in any of the hydrogen explosions.

  22. Fukushima radioactive water – the new energy drink (no kidding!) It contains the deadly cesium-137 radioisotope from nuclear fission. Wow I want to drink that!

  23. Pah to dangers that diminish over time. Vertical drops and bodies of water are always with us and deadly dangers FOR EVER. The human invention of the staircase has killed more than nuclear power ever will.

  24. I don’t believe a word these people say nor accept any evidence they present, because they are liars, thieves and activists. Nothing they present has any credibility. They’ve probably gone and got some soil samples form Chernobyl… They are that deceitful.

  25. Hiroshima returned to background radiation within a year and was rebuilt. Chernobyl exclusion zone had some deformed smaller animals, now all eaten up by wolves, and it is now a thriving game park – the Serengeti of Europe. Many animals large and small thought to have been extirpated, now abound in the ‘park’ and 90 year old бабушка’s have been picking mushrooms and berries there for decades.
    Red granite countertops are uranium ore at $200 a lb yellowcake, bananas and other foods get U, Th, K40 and Ra – probably enhances the flavor – nuclear plant workers live longer than average … As a kid with my friends over 70yrs ago I chewed asphalt tar found in blobs along the railway tracks, played with mercury in fun ways, melted lead in our coal fired furnace from a milkman’s horse “anchor” I found in the ditch in front of my home, had my wounds redded with mercurochrome, gargled with tincture of iodine for a strep throat. Some ecocorrupted professor from universities in UK taken over by the marxbrothers had this report written before the accident.

  26. “approximately 20 times smaller than…”
    Sorry, it’s pet peeve time. “20 times” something is BIGGER, not SMALLER, than whatever is being referenced. The right way to say this is “The particles found measure just five micrometres or less; approximately 1/20th the width of a human hair.”

  27. “Watch a video of reactor 3 blowing up.”
    This illustrates the difference rational fear and irrational fear.
    I have a great deal of experience with radiation safety, industrial safety, and the BWR nuke plants. Industrial accidents happen quickly. I know of two hydrogen explosions (coal power plant, powdered metal processing) that resulted in multiple deaths.
    I have personally been at risk since I have worked at both types of facilities. Since I have worked at many nuke plants, I am at risk from radiation exposure. The risk is very small from my accumulated exposure.
    No one has been hurt by radiation from a US designed commercial or naval reactor. Some here are confused about the difference between actually being hurt and risk. It you are hurt you do not need a study to tell you.
    Fear of pain is rational. Fear of zero risk is from zero exposure is irrational. Notice these clowns never bother to measure their exposure from their fabricated scenarios.

  28. Get out – everything is worse than thought – otherwise they couldn’t get more government funds to study the problem.
    Look at Chernobyl – it was suppose to be a desert waste land for hundreds of years – now it is an incredible nature preserve with unusually healthy wild animals. It has become a tourist attraction.

  29. “After all that searching, only 3 specks found. After *back-dating the radioactivity 7 years*, the hottest was 87 Becquerels.
    Context: most smoke alarms, which have saved countless lives from mundane housefires, contain ~37,000 Bequerels in a plastic box.”
    You get more radiation exposure from the granite at Yosemite.
    From this Twitter thread:

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