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Sat Oct 12, 2019, 12:36 PM

A Tale of 2 Radioactive Contamination Issues: the San Joaquin Oil Fields & Fukushima Seaweed & Tuna.

The two papers I will discuss in this post are from a recent issue, as of this writing, of one of my favorite scientific journals, Environmental Science and Technology.

They are:

Occurrence and Sources of Radium in Groundwater Associated with Oil Fields in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, California (McMahon et al, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019, 53, 9398−9406.

...and...

Temporal Variation of Radionuclide Contamination of Marine Plants on the Fukushima Coast after the East Japan Nuclear Disaster (Arakawa et al Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019, 53, 9370−9377)

I will also briefly discuss, in papers linked below, the famous Fukashima Tuna Fish.

The second paper is behind a firewall but may be accessed in an academic library; the first is open sourced and anyone can read it.

For convenience I will treat them both as if they were behind a firewall, and excerpt portions and graphics of both.

Before launching into a discussion of the papers, it is worthwhile to discuss the nuclear properties of all the species discussed in the paper. To do this, I will provide references to other papers as well as links to those that have them. These papers have largely been downloaded or scanned into my personal files but many, if not all, may be accessed in a good academic library.

Almost all of the data in the discussion of the nuclear properties here were sourced from the website of the National Nuclear Data Center by entering the symbol for the nuclides in question in the top box and clicking the "decay data" in the right hand box. This will lead to other links, where one can use the "human readable" form to get the information on half-lives and decay energies. This data can also be accessed using the "periodic table browse" tab.


The radioactive nuclides discussed in the first paper are all anthropogenic nuclei created in the operation of nuclear reactors, two isotopes of cesium-134 (Cs-134), and cesium-137(Cs-137). The latter is a fission product. The former is formed by neutron capture in non-radioactive cesium-133, also a fission product. (The direct formation of cesium-134 does not take place since Xenon-134, a fission product preceding it is observationally stable and thus not subject to measurable radioactive decay.) Also discussed is an isotope of silver, silver-110m (Ag-110m), a nuclear isomer of radioactive silver-110 (Ag-110). Cs-134 has a half-life of 2.06 years. Cs-137 has a half-life of 30.08 years. Ag-110m has a half-life of 249 days, roughly.

It has been roughly 3100 days since the last reactor at Fukushima suffered a hydrogen explosion. The fraction of Ag-110m that remains is about 0.000178 of that which was present when the explosions took place, and, as silver chloride is insoluble, I will not discuss this isotope at any length in this post even though it mentioned in the paper on Fukushima to be discussed. It is however discussed in the paper as a kind of marker, despite it's extremely low concentrations.

The decay energy of Cs-137 is nominally 594 keV, however most of this energy is carried off as a neutrinos with a mean energy of 370 keV. As neutrinos interact only weakly with matter there is little effect on matter, living or dead. Most of the energy that does interact with matter is in the form of a β- particle, with a mean energy of 179 keV. Beta particles are not particularly penetrating, but can damage local matter when it decays, including living tissue if it is in contact with it or internalized in it.

Cesium-137 is, however, responsible for two nuclear decays, that of itself, and that of its daughter, Ba-137m, the nuclear isomer of stable Ba-137. Since the half-life of Ba-137m is 2.55 minutes, Cs-137 is in secular equilibrium with Ba-137m, which emits a 594 keV gamma ray in its isomeric transition, under most conditions. Since the decays are quite nearly simultaneous on an effective transport time scale, this gamma ray is sometimes reported as the decay energy, which is 661 keV (0.661 MeV) of cesium although it is actually a decay in barium. The concentration of Cs-137 is thus often determined by the secular equilibrium ratio by detection of this Ba-137m gamma ray. Gamma rays can interact strongly with matter by breaking chemical bonds, even strong bonds, for example carbon-fluorine bonds. They also can easily break bonds in living tissue, which is why they can kill cells, and in high enough doses, whole organisms including human beings.

Barium-137m can be placed in disequilibrium by exploiting the insolubility of barium carbonate or sulfate. Cesium sulfate and/or carbonate are completely soluble. If disequilibrium occurs, and the mixture is not subject to additional active separation, equilibrium represented by the maximal accumulation of Ba-137m is reestablished in about 57 minutes.

(I often reflect on this disequilibrium when considering certain kinds of radiocesium hyroxide devices for storing (and/or converting) decay energy for work utilizing compressed air, since a side product of the scheme would be air capture of carbon dioxide and the destruction of certain kinds of problematic long lived greenhouse gases that have been released into the atmosphere by the refrigeration industry.)

Cs-134, the other radioactive cesium isotope released in significant quantities at Fukushima, decays directly to stable Ba-134. It has a decay energy of 2,058 keV (2.058 MeV), much of it released in the form of an gamma rays with an average energy of 1558 keV (1.558 MeV) It decays almost exlusively by β- emission; the average energy of the β- particle is 157 keV.

Ag-110m largely decays directly to cadmium-110. It has a decay energy of 2,968 keV (2.968 MeV). Most of it decays by β- emission, with an average(α emitter, HL seconds, decay energy, keV ( MeV)) particle energy of 67 k and a gamma ray with an average energy of 2,760 keV, (2.76 MeV). A small amount (1.36%) decays to Ag-110, which has a half-life of around 24 seconds and a similar energy to the parent 110m nuclear isomer.

All three of these isotopes, Cs-137, Cs-134 and Ag-110m were released by the meltdown of the Fukushima reactors.

The paper discusses the fate of these isotopes in seawater and in seaweed in the general Fukushima area, as well as their relative concentrations.

The radioactive species discussed in the second paper are all called Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM). It is chiefly concerned with two of these, radium-226, a part of the uranium-238 decay series, and Radium-228, a part of the thorium decay series. Both are highly energetic alpha emitters. Ra-226 is the parent isotope of 9 (or more, depending on branch ratios) additional nuclear decays. Ra-228 is the parent leading to 10 additional nuclear decays.

The half-life of Ra-226 is 1600 years. The half-life of Ra-228 is 5.75 years.

The decay energy of Ra-226 (α emitter, HL 1600 years, decay energy, 4,871 keV (4.871 MeV)) is almost an order of magnitude higher than the decay energy of Cs-137, the longest lived, and in many ways the most problematic of all fission products. The daughter nuclides of the decay of Ra-226 are these, with "Half-life" abbreviated "HL:"

Rn-222 (α emitter, HL 3.8235 days, decay energy, 5,590 keV (5.590 MeV)),
Po-218(α emitter, HL 3.098 minutes, decay energy, 6,114 keV (6.114 MeV)) (minor 0.02% β- ),
Pb-214 (β- emitter, HL 26.8 minutes decay energy, 1,019 keV (1.019 MeV)),
Bi-214 (β- emitter, HL 19.9 minutes decay energy, 3,270 keV (3.270 MeV)) ,
Po-214(α emitter, HL 164.3 μseconds, decay energy, 7, 833 keV (7.833 MeV)) ,
Pb-210 (β- emitter, HL 22.2 years decay energy, 63.5 keV (0.0635 MeV)) ,
Po-210 (α emitter, HL 138.376 days, decay energy, 5,407 keV (5.407 MeV)),
Pb-206 (stable)

The reason for producing these details is to show that the energy associated with the decay of radium is much higher than the energy associated with the decay of the radioactive cesium isotopes. If this energy is deposited in living tissue the matter is more serious.

The effects of radiation on tissue is the subject of efforts to systematize it as so as to make reasonable assessments of risk; a considerable effort has been made which is probably very good to a first approximation to produce something called “quality factors” which is a function of the type of radiation, in most cases here alpha radiation, which is not very penetrating and thus deposits most of its energy locally, the type of tissue and the density of the tissue in which it traveling. This is the type of thinking that goes into the unit “Sievert,” abbreviated “Sv” which is frequently a unit mentioned with respect to the health risks of radiation. It has replaced the “Rem” in common radiation health, and accounts for the type of radiation.

A related unit is the “Gray” which is a measure of the amount of energy deposited in a material, which is also a function of the nature of the material, extending beyond tissue. The Gray involves less subjectivity than the Sievert.

The total amount of energy generated by the decay of radium and it’s daughters, in their decay is a whopping 34,186 keV. Since much of this energy is in the form of low penetrating β- and α particles, it follows that much of it is in fact deposited in tissues if the nuclide is internalized in the tissue.

The unit keV is an atomic unit and may not mean much to the average citizen not accustomed to dealing with such units. The conversion factor between this unit and the more familiar energy unit the Joule is simply the charge on an electron, 1.609 X 10^-19 Coulombs times 1000 to account for the “k” from kilo-. It is useful to consider how much energy a gram of “radium daughters.”

Of the above nuclei listed in the radium decay series, the one with the shortest half-life that is actually long lived enough to have actually been isolated is Po-210. This is the nuclide that Vladmir Putin’s agents utilized to kill the renegade Russian Security Agency Defector Alexander Litvinenko. (All of the world’s commercial Po-210 is manufactured in Russia and is exported to countries around the world to control static in the manufacture of very sensitive microcircuits for example.) Therefore to consider how much energy a “MeV” is, let’s take a look at the macroscopic energy output of a gram of this element’s isotope puts out. Using the conversion factor from the previous paragraph, we see that the decay of a single atom of Po-210 puts out .870 nanoJoules of energy, or 870 picoJoules.

The number of atoms decaying in a second is given by the specific activity of Po-210, which is in turn, determined by its decay constant, λ, which is defined by dividing the natural logarithm of 2 by the half-life in seconds, which in the case of Po-210, works out to 5.80 X 10^(-8) inverse seconds. Multiplying this number by Avogadro’s number gives the number of decays in a mole of Polonium-210, and dividing it by the approximate atomic weight of Po-210, 210, gives the number of decays per second. This number is 2.5 trillion decays per second per gram. Multiplying this by the decay energy, we see that a gram of Po-210 puts out about 2,170 watts of power.

The density of the beta phase of polonium, which is the only phase that can be reliably measured given the heat output of the metal, is about 9.4 g/ml, meaning that the volume of a gram is simply the inverse of this number or about 0.11 ml. A teaspoon is said to be 9.2 ml, and it follows that a gram of polonium-210 putting out 2,170 watts is about 0.02 teaspoons.

It is the high energy to mass ratio that makes nuclear energy environmentally superior to all other forms of energy.

However, as is clear from the Litvinenko case, ingesting or being injected, even in amounts much less than a gram, of Po-210 will kill a person.

Much of what I have written above is misleading, in the sense that it implies that if one were to eat radium, or to drink it in well water contaminated with it – the possibility of which is discussed in one of the papers, to be discussed herein – one would be subjected to all of the decays during one’s lifetime, which is decidedly not true. A “bottleneck” in the decay series is the relatively long half-life of lead-210. The radioactive elements in a decay series are subject to various kind of equilibria, and the equations of radioactive decay, derived from the Bateman Equation.

From the use of these equations, it can be shown that the attainment of transient equilibrium between Ra-226 and Pb-210 would take about 139 years to achieve, at which time the ratio between the parent nuclide (Ra-226) and the daughter (Pb-210) would be 0.0139. Moreover the equilibrium ratio of Pb-210's daughter, Po-210, to Pb-210 would be 0.017, meaning that the ratio of ratio of Po-210 to Ra-226 would be 0.00027 or 0.027%. Only 94.2% of the radium originally present would remain at this point.

This is why Marie Curie was not immediately killed by isolating radium; it took a long time to reach Po-210 equilibrium. In fact, it took 36 years for her work with radium (and other radioactive elements) to kill her, a period of remarkable scientific achievement during which she was awarded two Nobel Prizes. (She and her husband had previously isolated tiny amounts of Polonium, before their discovery of radium, from uranium ores, but not enough to kill them; the amounts were invisible, and in fact, still shielded by significant quantities of uranium.

But let’s be clear, her work with radioactivity did kill her.

Nevertheless, people do regularly consume polonium, at least to the extent they eat seafood.

The ocean contains about 4.5 billion tons of uranium, albeit in low concentrations, a generally accepted average level being around 3.3 μg per cubic meter, although this figure can vary from place to place. In the Mediterranean Sea, for example, measurements of concentrations of uranium in seawater ranged from between 3.2 to 3.7 ppb, (XAS and TRLIF spectroscopy of uranium and neptunium in seawater Melody Maloubier, et al Dalton Trans., 2015,44, 5417-5427), between 3.01 and 3.15 ppb in the anoxic Saanich Inlet, a fjord on Vancouver Island in Canada (Uranium isotope fractionation in Saanich Inlet: A modern analog study of a paleoredox tracer (C. Holmden et al. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 153 (2015) 202–215) and fairly precise measurements in the seas around Tiawan gave 3.116 ppb with a relative error of around 1.6%. Measurements of natural uranium concentration and isotopic composition with permil‐level precision by inductively coupled plasma–quadrupole mass spectrometry (Shen et alGeochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 7, Q09005, )

Uranium in seawater has been there ever since the Earth's atmosphere began to feature significant concentrations of oxygen, for billions of years. It has thus had plenty of time to come into transient equilibrium with its daughter radium. It takes "only" 34,282 years for this equilibrium to be established. Although radium carbonate and radium sulfate have low solubility products, they are high enough that disequilibrium is not obtained commonly in seawater; it is estimated that the scavenger lifetime of radium in seawater is six times longer than its radioactive half-life. (cf Teh-Lung Ku and Shangde Luo, U-Th Series Nuclides in Aquatic Systems, Cochran and Krishnaswami, ed. Ch 9 pg 313).

It follows that seawater naturally contains Po-210, and, it turns out, organisms concentrate this polonium.

A rather famous paper in the scientific literature, famous mostly for the idiocy which the international media interpreted it, concerns the "Fukushima Tuna Fish." The paper is here: Pacific bluefin tuna transport Fukushima-derived radionuclides from Japan to California (Madigan et al PNAS 109 24 9483–9486 (2012)). The purpose of the paper was to utilize a particular marker, the relatively short-lived nuclide Cs-134, that was injected into the sea by the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear reactors by a natural catastrophe to trace the migration of tuna and not to publicize a huge health risk.

However, because of the publicity the paper generated, the embarrassed authors felt to publish a follow-up paper, Evaluation of radiation doses and associated risk from the Fukushima nuclear accident to marine biota and human consumers of seafood (Madigan et al PNAS 110 26 10670–10675 2013).

They wrote:

Recent reports describing the presence of radionuclides released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Pacific biota (1, 2) have aroused worldwide attention and concern. For example, the discovery of 134Cs and 137Cs in Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis; PBFT) that migrated from Japan to California waters (2) was covered by >1,100 newspapers worldwide and numerous internet, television, and radio outlets. Such widespread coverage reflects the public’s concern and general fear of radiation. Concerns are particularly acute if the artificial radionuclides are in human food items such as seafood. Although statements were released by government authorities, and indeed by the authors of these papers, indicating that radionuclide concentrations were well below all national safety food limits, the media and public failed to respond in measure. The mismatch between actual risk and the public’s perception of risk may be in part because these studies reported radionuclide activity concentrations in tissues of marine biota but did not report dose estimates and predicted health risks for the biota or for human consumers of contaminated seafood. We have therefore calculated the radiation doses absorbed by diverse marine biota in which radioactivity was quantified (1, 2) and humans that potentially consume contaminated PBFT.


More than 1100 newspapers...

The journalists engaged in this reporting remind me of a really, really stupid guy who made it to my ignore list here who once represented that the collapse of a tunnel at the Hanford Reservation, which turned out to contain some slightly radioactive discarded chemical reactors, was somehow more important than the complete destruction of the planetary atmosphere by dangerous fossil fuel waste.

No wonder ignorance is accelerating climate change. There are actually people who think we cannot use the nuclear tool – the only tool which has worked on a significant scale – to address, slow, and perhaps even halt, the ongoing destruction of the entire planet’s atmosphere because some fool on a Trumpian intellectual level heard about a small tunnel with some rail cars in it with old chemical reactors contaminated with a small amount of residual plutonium. One hears these kinds of things, but one really doesn’t want to believe it.

As for the tuna fish, the weighted absorbed dose from the radiation from natural Polonium-210 in the "Fukushima Tuna Fish" was found to be 558 μSv from Polonium-210, 12.7 μSv from the natural radioactivity associated with potassium (K-40) - both tuna fish and humans would die without mildly radioactive potassium - 0.5 μSv from Cs-137, most of which resulted from nuclear weapons testing in the 20th century, and 0.4 μSv from the Fukushima Cs-134 that was being utilized to track the tuna fish migration patterns.

What is interesting in terms of actual radioactive decays, the number of decays attributed to Cs-134 in a kg of dry "Fukushima Tuna" is 4 Beq, and Po-210 only about 20 times larger, 79 Beq, as compared to the factor of risk as measured in μSv, which is almost 1400 times higher for Po-210 with respect to Cs-134, although these risks are almost vanishingly small in any case. Very few people get radiogenic cancer from eating the polonium in a kg of tuna fish. The radiation associated with a tuna fish is a fraction of normal background radiation and, in fact, if the tuna has spent a significant time in a can, most of the polonium will have decayed away to lead.

The point here, of all the diversion, is simply – an issue addressed by the unit “Sievert” – is to reify the fact that in terms of health, the issue is not how many decays a radioactive substance undergoes and also where it is located. A committed dose represents an ingested radionuclide, Polonium from a tuna fish for example.

The biochemistry of the radioactive elements is also very important in determining risk. The measured concentration of natural polonium in seawater is rather low, a Malaysian paper on the subject describing what the authors regard as high concentrations of the element reports concentrations of Polonium in seawater that is orders of magnitude lower than what the exasperated authors of the "Fukushima Tuna Fish" paper reported in the fish. (High 210Po Activity Concentration in the Surface Water of Malaysian Seas Driven by the Dry Season of the Southwest Monsoon (June–August 2009) (Sabuti, A.A. & Mohamed, C.A.R. Estuaries and Coasts (2015) 38: 482). This is because polonium - although a metal or semi-metal - is technically chemically a cogener of oxygen and sulfur and thus can behave like these elements. Squid also concentrate polonium, and the authors of a paper discussing the radiological effects of squid consumption in Korean and Portuguese diets. (Distribution patterns of chalcogens (S, Se, Te, and 210Po) in various tissues of a squid, Todarodes pacificus (Kim et al Science of The Total Environment 392, 2–3, 25 2008, 218-224.

The behavior of polonium as a chalcogen suggests its utility in medicine. Radiation kills cells and cells that we would like to kill are cancer cells. A particular type of antineoplastic drug that is becoming increasingly subject to research is an "ADC" - an antibody drug conjugate - in which an antibody with an affinity for cancer cells is linked to a "payload," a toxic antineoplastic drug, for example pacitaxel or vincristine. Radioactive substances like technetium can also be utilized in this way, but generally the linker is not part of the antibody structure, but is rather an introduced complexation agent, introducing issues with stability and selectivity for cancer cells. (The idea behind most medicinal chemistry approaches to cancer is to use a cell cancer killing agent which will kill more cancerous cells than healthy cells, but healthy cells are invariably killed.


When I was a kid, for a while I was working on the synthesis of selenols and tellurinols of aromatic species to model certain biological enzyme behavior, and my adviser joked that perhaps we should extend our efforts to include "poloninols." It was a joke, but actually one can imagine, should this be synthetically feasible, incorporating polonium into tyrosine, cysteine or methionine residues in proteins to make a cancer cell targeting antibody that carries polonium directly into a tumor and is filtered from the blood stream by the tumor, killing it. Whether someone has explored this option, I do not know. It would be interesting to know the chemical form of polonium in tuna fish, for example if it exists in the form of polonocysteine, for example, and perhaps this has been investigated, I don’t know.

A last diversion before turning to the papers I promised to discuss at the outset:

At the outset of this post, I disingenuously suggested that the decay energy of the entire radium series would be 34,168 keV (34.1MeV). I then went on to explain that in fact, there are decay “bottlenecks” which prevent all of this energy from being deposited in entirely in a person experiencing a radium decay in their flesh, most notably the existence of Pb-210 in equilibrium with its daughter Po-210. Nevertheless, in the case where a parent nuclide decays with a much longer half-life than it’s daughter(s), it is common practice to consider the case, to a first approximation, as if the decays are effectively simultaneous, as one does in determining the presence of Cs-137 from the Ba-137m gamma ray. The half-life of radium is sufficiently longer than all of its decay daughters up to Pb-210 so that it is pretty much possible to do this, but if one lives for decades after ingesting the radium – and people do this, as evidenced by the life of Marie Curie – only a portion of the energy from the decay of Pb-210 will be available to damage living cells. The total decay energy of radium and all of its daughters up to and including Po-214 is 28,697 keV (28.6 MeV), an enormous amount of energy on a molecular scale.

Here too, however, there is a caveat. The decay series of Ra-226 through Po-214 contains, the longest lived nuclide among them, gaseous radon-222. When deciding whether all of this energy in this decay series is deposited in flesh when an atom of radium decays, one must account for this fact, the chemical nature of radon, which is an inert noble gas.

It is well known that radon gas is associated with lung cancer. Radon gas is present wherever there is a uranium formation is present; for example, I live over the Reading Prong uranium formation and I have measured radon in by basement, where, in fact, I am writing this post. Happily for me, the concentration of this radon is below what is considered an action level.

Many mass market/popular books have been written on the subject of lung cancer among Native American uranium miners who worked in the mid-20th century and their lung cancer rates, which are significantly higher than among control populations. With appeal to some published scientific literature on this case – there is a great deal of that too, besides the popular books – as well as the popular books, I have written on this subject myself elsewhere on the internet. An excerpt:

…Lung cancer, of course, tells a very different story. Ninety-two Native American uranium miners died of lung cancer. Sixty-three of these died before 1990; twenty-nine died after 1990. The SMR for the population that died in the former case was 3.18, for the former 3.27. This means the expected number of deaths would have been expected in the former case was 20, in the latter case, 9. Thus the excess lung cancer deaths among Native American uranium miners was 92 – (20 +9) = 63.


Sustaining the Wind Part 3 – Is Uranium Exhaustible?.

There won’t be a lot of books written about the 19,000 people who will die today from the dangerous fossil fuel and biomass combustion waste called generically “air pollution,” nor many shut by the health risks of the Native American coal miners in the same general region who lost their jobs this year, but that to which we pay attention says a great deal about who we are.

It is generally understood that the risk of breathing radon gas are associated with the decay daughter discussed above, including, but not limited to polonium-210 and its parent, lead-210. It is the case, however, that the physiology of radon is not quite as simple as being inhaled and exhaled in a passive manner so that the risk is associated with a series of cases where radon atoms decay while in the lungs, depositing radioactive polonium, bismuth or lead.

For one thing, radium, radon’s parent, is, like the fission product strontium, deposited in bones, as it is a cogener of calcium and, like strontium and barium, behaves very similarly to it. Thus it is relatively easy for radon gas to be trapped in this dense matrix, much as radon gas, and for that matter helium gas – all of the world’s helium is derived from atoms once trapped in rock – to be trapped in bone. Much of the energy of alpha decays appears initially as high energy recoils. An alpha particle emitted at a few MeV is traveling at relativistic speeds, that is, a significant fraction of the speed of light, and it follows that the conservation of momentum will result in the daughter nuclei formed in the decay also traveling significant distances in the material it damages. This is well known in rock. If the rock is ground into fine particles, as in a fracking operation, these particles may be propelled to the surface of the particle or beyond it. Most oil and gas (and for that matter coal) deposits were formed by the reformation of biomass over hundreds of millions of years and deposited in sedimentary rocks (or possibly metamorphic) rocks. If the formations formed from oceanic deposits, they will contain oceanic uranium, in some cases concentrated by organisms – coral, for one example, greatly concentrates uranium from seawater – or, if formed terrestrially in lakes or in forests, will form from the uranium ores weathered. Thus these formations typically have uranium impurities in them, and thus uranium daughters.

It is true that radon can travel via recoils several millimeters in bone, and thus radium deposited near the surface of the bone can propel radon atoms out of bony tissue into other tissues. Theoretically, one would think, this would make the radium be solvated in the blood stream and possibly be transferred into the air via exhalation through the lungs.

It is not, however, quite that simple.

Naively, assuming that radon behaved much like xenon, krypton and argon, I rather thought that radon would be appreciably soluble in water via the formation of clathrates, and to some extent this is true. A nice open sourced discussion of radon clathrates and their association with the migration within uranium bearing soils is found here: The origin and detection of spike like anomalies in soil gas radon time series. (Chyi et al Geochemical Journal 25 431-438 (2011))

The idea of radon clathrates suggests that for whatever reason, something rather like hydrogen bonding, radon is hydrophilic.

The behavior of radon in tissue has been studied and a number of interesting papers on the subject have been published, using both animal and human subjects. A very recent paper on the subject explores the theoretical justification for the observed fact that physiologically, radon tends to have an affinity for hydrophobic lipids, that is fat tissue. The paper is also open sourced and is available here: A combined experimental and theoretical study of radon solubility in fat and water (Barbara Drossel et al, Scientific Reports, (2019) 9:10768).

It is now well known that radon exposure can lead to immune suppression. One reason for this is that, because of its affinity and solubility in lipids, one place that the gas tends to concentrate is in bone marrow, which is where blood cells, including immune cells, are formed. While severe immune suppression is dangerous, there are physiological conditions for which some immune suppression is desirable, for example, in the case of autoimmune diseases like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. (Biologic drugs like Humira - adalimumab - work by moderate immune suppression.) While the fad in the early twentieth century of people staying in caves where radon gas is present in high concentrations for therapeutic benefit seems absurd in modern times, there have been controlled clinical trials in which patients suffering from autoimmune diseases have stayed in radon bearing "spas" to evaluate their effect on disease. Many of the papers reporting on these trials refer to the concentration of radon in bone marrow, for example this paper: Decrease of Markers Related to Bone Erosion in Serum of Patients with Musculoskeletal Disorders after Serial Low-Dose Radon Spa Therapy (Claudia Fournier et al Front. Immunol. 8:882 (2017)). The concentration of radon gas into lipid bearing tissues means that the radon daughters are formed there. Thus in high enough concentrations, it will lead to blood related diseases. Marie Curie, for example, who is reported to have traveled around her lab with vials of glowing radium in her pockets died apparently from aplastic anemia, apparently because radon and its daughters slowly destroyed her bone marrow leading to an inability to generate new red blood cells.

(Interestingly a comprehensive study of the fate of uranium miners among the Dine (Navajo) people found that while rates of leukemia were slightly higher than expected among all uranium miners - 17 of them died from leukemia, whereas the expected number of deaths from leukemia would have been around 15, meaning there were two "extra" deaths - Native Americans did not have a single case of leukemia among them, although they were elevated for a number of other cancers, some blood related. Radon Exposure and Mortality Among White and American Indian Uranium Miners: An Update of the Colorado Plateau Cohort (Mary K. Schubauer-Berigan et al, Am J Epidemiol 2009;169: 718–730)).

When people think about risk, they tend to do in an innumerate way, for example, if we report that some improbable thing is 100% more likely in group A than in group B it does not imply that everyone in group A will experience the improbable thing. Consider this paper on the likelihood of dementia among different classes of women depending on their marital status: Marital Status and Dementia: Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study (Liu et al, The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, gbz087, corrected proof, accessed 9/12/19)

Here, simply put are the "results" of the study from the paper:

Table 1 shows descriptive statistics for all analyzed variables in the baseline 2000 HRS study sample. The results show that widowed respondents had the highest proportion of dementia during the subsequent waves (6.02%), followed by never-married respondents (2.46%), and divorced respondents (2.41%). All these groups were significantly more likely to develop dementia than married respondents (1.67%). Cohabiting respondents (1.65%) had a slightly lower proportion of dementia during the subsequent waves than married respondents. Note, these marital status differences in dementia may be due to demographic differences. For example, widowed respondents (baseline mean age = 74.48) were significantly older while cohabiting respondents (baseline mean age = 61.99) were significantly younger than married respondents (baseline mean age = 64.31); and age is a strong predictor for dementia risk...


This brief excerpt of a longer paper reports, caveats included, that 2.41% of divorced women ultimately over a period of more than a decade, develop dementia. It means that of the subjects in this study, 97.59% of the divorced women didn't develop Dementia. Simplistically, we could - especially if we wished to encourage a stupid[ interpretation of the data and annouce that since "only" 1.67% of married women developed dementia that divorced women are 100*2.41/1.67 =144% more likely to develop dementia than married women. Run through the mill of some barely literate journalism, as in the case of the tuna fish above, we could probably find interpretations of this data that implied that all married women should stay in marriages, possibly even abusive marriages as a way of preventing dementia. The fact is however, that whether a woman has never married, is divorced, married, or cohabiting she is still unlikely to develop dementia.

As I played around with the data on the uranium miners on the Colorado Plateau in the aforementioned paper, I wrote the following elsewhere on the internet in the link on the question of whether uranium is exhaustible:

We may also read that the median year of birth for these miners, white and Native American, was 1922, meaning that a miner born in the median year would have been 83 years old in 2005, the year to which the follow up was conducted. (The oldest miner in the data set was born in 1913; the youngest was born in 1931.) Of the miners who were evaluated, 2,428 of them had died at the time the study was conducted, 826 of whom died after 1990, when the median subject would have been 68 years old...

...Of the Native American miners, 536 died before 1990, and 280 died in the period between 1991and 2005, meaning that in 2005, only 13 survived. Of course, if none of the Native Americans had ever been in a mine of any kind, never mind uranium mines, this would have not rendered them immortal. (Let’s be clear no one writes pathos inspiring books about the Native American miners in the Kayenta or Black Mesa coal mines, both of which were operated on Native American reservations in the same general area as the uranium mines.) Thirty-two of the Native American uranium miners died in car crashes, 8 were murdered, 8 committed suicide, and 10 died from things like falling into a hole, or collision with an “object.” Fifty-four of the Native American uranium miners died from cancers that were not lung cancer. The “Standard Mortality Ratio,” or SMR for this number of cancer deaths that were not lung cancer was 0.85, with the 95% confidence level extending from 0.64 to 1.11. The “Standard Mortality Ratio” is the ratio, of course, the ratio between the number of deaths observed in the study population (in this case Native American Uranium Miners) to the number of deaths that would have been expected in a control population. At an SMR of 0.85, thus 54 deaths is (54/.085) – 54 = -10. Ten fewer Native American uranium miners died from “cancers other than lung cancer” than would have been expected in a population of that size. At the lower 95% confidence limit SMR, 0.64, the number would be 31 fewer deaths from “cancers other than lung cancer,” whereas at the higher limit SMR, 1.11, 5 additional deaths would have been recorded, compared with the general population.


As noted, 63 more uranium miners among the more than 2,400 Native American miners died from lung cancer than would have been expected in a "normal" population. However, more than 2,300 Native Americans, despite all the books about the horrible conspiracy to kill them, did not die from lung cancer. How many more might have died than a similar sized population of school bus drivers in Indianapolis if they hadn't mined uranium but rather just grew up on a huge uranium formation - some of the rocks included the construction of Pueblos made hundreds of years ago show significant radioactivity from the natural composition of the rock, some of which are decent uranium ores - is not known, but it is clear, I think, from all of the above, that exposure to the decay products of uranium is not good for you, even if there are people who deliberately expose themselves to them in hopes of "curing" their rheumatoid arthritis.

However exposure to decay products of uranium does not mean either instantaneous nor even likely death from radon related causes. I have measurable and detectable radon in the room in which I am writing this post. This radon has nothing to do with anthropomorphic activities, but is a function of the natural composition of the soils and rocks under the house in which I have lived. Note, I may get lung cancer from this radon, but it is improbable that I will, just as I may get lung cancer from the air pollution with which I have lived my whole life, much of it while people with selective attention and wishful thinking wait, like Godot, for the grand so called “renewable energy” nirvana that has not come, is not here, and will not come. Even though I definitely have been exposed to radon, I am decidedly not dead, and to my knowledge, do not have lung cancer, although I've lived in this house for more than 23 years. However, a set of people consisting of people living in houses like mine will have a higher probability, but not a certainty, of dying from lung cancer. The difference between “higher probability” and "certainty" is important.

Recently in this space, there was a post on the subject of outcome bias: The bias that can cause catastrophe. This post referred to an argument that an observed outcome is assumed to have been a likely outcome, when this is decidedly not true. It more or less follows to my mind that advertising - including advertising disguised as "news" - can lead to the catastrophic outcomes, for example the bizarre and intellectually unsupportable and frankly extremely dangerous arguments for example that nuclear energy is dangerous unacceptable and climate change and the deaths of millions of people each year from air pollution is acceptable and not dangerous, that nuclear energy is "too expensive" and that the climate change and the deaths of millions of people each year from air pollution is not "too expensive." You can hear moral idiots drag out these arguments time and time again, here and elsewhere; the most odious, ignorant, appalling, weak minding and repulsive examples of such people here have made it to my wonderful ignore list. I don’t listen to what Donald Trump has to say, why listen to other people who are, frankly, delusional. It is a fact that over the last half a century, the combustion associated with so called “renewable energy” – including but not limited to the combustion of “waste” and biomass, will kill more people this year than more than half a century of commercial nuclear operations.

Facts matter.

Because we advertise Fukushima more than we report climate change deaths and air pollution deaths, we have chosen, via outcome bias, to destroy the planet by appeals to fear and ignorance.

All this brings me to the papers, finally, evoked at the outset of this post.

The San Joaquin Valley is primarily an agricultural valley, producing nuts, vegetables - almost all this country's asparagus is grown there - according to Wikipedia diverse crops are grown there: Walnuts, oranges, peaches, garlic, tangerines, tomatoes, kiwis, hay, alfalfa, cotton, pistachios, almonds, and of course oranges.

The overwhelming majority of the State's dangerous petroleum is produced there.

The first paper, that on the radium content of groundwater in California's San Joaquin oil fields, reports oil has been produced there for a century. To wit, from the introduction:

Consumption of water containing elevated radium (Ra) activities has been associated with various adverse human health effects, including some forms of cancer.1−3 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for 226Ra+228Ra in drinking water of 0.185 Bq/L (5 pCi/L).4 Previous studies have shown that water in some hydrocarbon reservoirs is enriched in Ra nuclides, which could be problematic if that water mixes with nearby groundwater. 226Ra+228Ra activities up to 666 and 64 Bq/L were reported in produced water from unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Marcellus Shale and Bakken Formation, respectively.5,6 Produced water from oil reservoirs in the southern San Joaquin Valley (SJV), California, has reported 226Ra+228Ra activities up to ∼12 Bq/L.7,8 Differences in Ra activities between water from the SJV and other reservoirs reflect, in part, differences in salinity between the reservoirs. At elevated salinities, exchangeable Ra on clay minerals can be mobilized due to exchange with other dissolved ions.9−11 While concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS) in water from SJV oil reservoirs are typically <40,000 mg/L,8 TDS in water from the Bakken and Marcellus commonly exceed 100,000 mg/L.5,6

The focus of this study is shallow groundwater associated with the Fruitvale (FV), Lost Hills (LH), and South Belridge (SB) oil fields in the SJV (Figure 1),12 where oil production has occurred for ∼100 years.8 Disposal of oil-field water in unlined ponds has occurred in parts of the study area since the 1950s and is a direct pathway for oil-field water to enter the near-surface environment. 13 Several studies have reported the presence of Ra from oil-field water in near-surface environments, typically in aquatic sediment or soil associated with releases of Ra-rich produced water.6,14−16 Those studies found most of the Ra was retained on solid phases relatively close to the release site due to Ra immobilization by processes like coprecipitation with barite (BaSO4) and adsorption on solid phases.6,14,15


The location of these oil fields and the test sites are detailed in this map:



The caption:

Figure 1. (A) Location of the study-area oil fields, and locations of sampling sites in the (B) Fruitvale, (C) Lost Hills, and (D) South Belridge oil fields. Oil-well data from ref (12). Only selected active and decommissioned disposal ponds are shown.


The following graphic refers to the findings of total radioactivity in groundwater and oil field water. The "MCL" again, refers to the EPA's "maximum concentration level" for radium, 0.185 Bq/Liter. Several of the groundwater samples exceed this limit, all of the oil field water do as well.



Figure 2. (A) 226Ra+228Ra activities, (B) 228Ra activities in relation to 226Ra activities, and (C) 224Ra activities in relation to 228Ra activities, in groundwater and oil-field water. Data for oil-field water from refs (8and31). In (A), boxes represent 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile values, whiskers represent 10th and 90th percentile values; oil fields with different letters (A or B) at the top of the panel have significantly different activities based on Tukey multiple-comparison tests and α = 0.05; n, number of samples. In (B), data for aquifer sediments in Table S5 and ref (37) are present. FV, Fruitvale oil field; LH, Lost Hills oil field; SB, South Belridge oil field; slp, slope.


The next three graphics and captions show technical geochemical issues that have to do with the migration of radium as the oil field water leaches into the ground. Since the paper is open sourced, one is free to read the technical discussions therein, if interested.



Figure 3. (A) pH in relation to total dissolved solids concentrations and (B) manganese + iron concentrations in relation to dissolved oxygen concentrations, in groundwater; and (C) δ2H–H2O in relation to δ18O–H2O in groundwater and oil-field water. Data for oil-field water from refs (8and31). In (C), GMWL, global meteoric water line; (50) LMWL, local meteoric water line.(51)




Figure 4. Concentrations of (A) bromide and (B) lithium in relation to chloride, (C) 84Kr/36Ar ratios in relation to 4He/36Ar ratios, in groundwater and oil-field water. Data for oil-field water from this study and refs (8,31,and37). In (A and B), vertical bars on the mixing lines represent mixtures containing 10% or 50% of the saline endmember.




Figure 5. (A) Barite saturation index and cumulative barite precipitation, calculated using PHREEQC, in relation to the fraction of ambient groundwater in the mixture, (B) manganese concentrations in relation to iron concentrations in groundwater and oil-field water, and (C) relative concentrations and ratios in relation to distance downgradient from oil-field water disposal pond BS2. In (A), BG3 and BS2 represent the groundwater and oil-field water endmembers, respectively. In (B), iron concentrations in the pond samples plotted at one-half the reporting level of 0.02 mg/L; data for oil-field water from refs (8and31).


It is worthwhile to read the text in the original paper. It appears that the radium, at least in some of the oil field produced water, did not migrate directly into the wells, but rather that the salts in this water mobilized radium that was geochemically fixed by manganese that was reduced, and then mobilized to produced the high radium levels. Nevertheless, the groundwater radium concentrations were increased because of oil drilling activity in the area. To the extent that the oil field water dries out, of course, leaving behind dust and oil residues, the Santa Ana winds could always blow this surface radium around across the fields.

The authors' conclusions/implications:


Implications
Chemical and isotopic data from this study show that saline, organic-rich oil-field water infiltrated through unlined disposal ponds into groundwater in multiple locations on the west side of the SJV. In three locations identified in this study, this has induced rock-water interactions that mobilize Ra from downgradient aquifer sediments to groundwater at levels that exceed the 226Ra+228Ra drinking-water MCL. These processes could also control Ra distribution in other areas with surface releases of produced water, rather than assuming high Ra is related to Ra adsorbed to sediment near the release site or that Ra activity in impacted groundwater depends only on conservative mixing relationships between the oil-field water and ambient groundwater. Induced-radium mobilization by oil-field and other saline water sources should be further studied in other cases, even if the end-member saline source has low Ra activity.


Before turning to the paper on the Fukushima seaweed, having already disposed of the famous Fukushima Tuna fish above, it is worth considering the entire amount of Cesium-137 released into the ocean by Fukushima, a favorite topic of anti-nukes, a set, as I often note, of people who are spectacularly disinterested in the fact that 19,000 people will die from air pollution today.

I will take this reference for the total amount of Cesium-137 released into the ocean: Oceanic dispersion of Fukushima-derived Cs-137 simulated by multiple oceanic general circulation models (Kawamura et al Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 180 (2017) 36-58). There surely other papers that will vary in exact figures, but the order of magnitude is surely reliable; in table 3, in the paper it reports that 3.53 petabequerels were released into the ocean.

Anti-nukes are hysterical about radioactivity and one of the more stupid remarks they make is that "There are no 'safe' levels of radioactivity." This bit of sophistic ignorance ignores the fact that there is a minimum amount of radioactivity that one must contain in order to live. According to a well known popular book on science (Emsley, John, The Elements, 3rd ed., Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998) a 70 kg human being, contains about 140 grams of potassium. All of the potassium on earth is radioactive, owing to the presence of the K-40 isotope, which has a half-life of 1.277 billion years, making its radioactivity appreciable, but it's half-life long enough to have survived in the star explosion debris from which our planet accreted. From the isotopic distribution of natural potassium, one can easily calculate that a 70 kg human being contains about 259,000 Bq of radioactive potassium. Without this radioactivity, a human being would die and die quickly, since potassium is an essential element.

It follows that for a population of 7 billion, the radioactivity of all human beings on earth is roughly 30 trillion Beq, 30 terabequerel.

The half-life of cesium-137 is, again, 30.08 years. It is therefore straight forward, using the radioactive decay equations, to show that the period of time it would take for all the cesium-137 released into the ocean to decay to the same level found in all human beings is 207 years. (For reference, I have calculated that the ocean contains about 20 zetabequerel of potassium, meaning the radioactivity in the ocean exceeds the radioactivity released at Fukushima by a factor of over 5,400,000.) The period of time it would take for all the cesium-137 released into the ocean by Fukushima to decay to amount of cesium in a single 70 kg human being, just one person, is 1013 years.

Since the half-life of radium is 1600 years, this implies that the amount of radium in the oil field water in the San Joaquin Valley will be in 207 years, 91.4% of what it is today; in 1013 years, the amount will be 64.4% of what it is today. This means that oil field radioactivity will be present in significant amounts after roughly the same time period of time that has elapsed since the Battle of Hastings, when France conquered England in 1066.

Of course, the radium that was in the ground in the San Joaquin valley and has now been brought to the surface by oil drilling has been there since the valley formed.

Let's be clear on something too: Claiming that it was wise to bet the planet on so called "renewable energy" is doing nothing to stop this state of affairs, nothing at all. The use of petroleum on this planet grew, in this century, grew by 30.23 exajoules to a total of 185.68 exajoules. So called "renewable energy" as represented by solar and wind, by comparison grew by 8.88 exajoules to 10.63 exajoules. (Total Energy consumption from all forms of energy was 584.98 exajoules in 2017, the year from which this data is taken.) 2018 Edition of the World Energy Outlook Table 1.1 Page 38 (I have converted MTOE in the original table to the SI unit exajoules in this text.) Thus, the insistence that we will someday survive on so called "renewable energy" is de facto acceptance of the use of fossil fuels, acceptance of the 7 million air pollution deaths each year, and acceptance of climate change. All the Trumpian scale lies repeated year after year, decade after decade will not make any of these statements untrue.

Now let's turn to the paper on Fukushima and seaweed.

Here's the cartoon art for the abstract:



This paper reports a similar quantity of cesium-137 as having been released into the ocean as the previous paper, but only as the lower end of a range of 3.5 to 5.5 petabequerels.

From the introduction:


Large earthquakes and an associated tsunami in March 2011 resulted in an accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP). Immediately after the accident, a large amount of radioactive material was released into the atmosphere from the FDNPP, a large portion of which was deposited in the ocean.1−3 In addition, a large amount of radioactive material (e.g., 3.5−5.5 PBq in 137Cs) was released directly from the FDNPP into the ocean, resulting in a high level of radiocesium entering the sea.4−9

Many marine organisms were contaminated by radioactive materials in direct inflow water from the FDNPP; therefore, monitoring of the radionuclide concentration of marine biota was begun.10−13 The main nuclides monitored were radioactive iodine (131I), radiocesium (134Cs and 137Cs), and radioactive silver (110mAg), and high levels of these materials were indeed detected in most marine organisms collected from the Fukushima coast immediately after the accident.10 The levels of radiocesium in fish and invertebrates decreased over time;14,15 however, several independent studies have been conducted to study their concentrations in marine plants since the accident.13,14,16−19

According to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO),19 in addition to 134Cs and 137Cs, 110mAg was also detected in invertebrates and marine plants collected during investigation of radioactive materials in coastal marine organisms following the accident. The 110mAg that originated from the FDNPP accident was also detected in other marine organisms and fish;10,11,19 however, reports of these compounds were fragmentary and did not discuss changes in levels after the accident in detail. Marine plants are important primary producers; accordingly, it is important to clarify the concentrations of radionuclides in marine plants and their changes because of the potential for plants to transfer radioactive materials in ecosystems. Therefore, in this study, the temporal changes and behavior of the concentrations of radioactive materials 110mAg, 134Cs, and 137Cs in marine plants were investigated.


Here are the time points and species collected from the methods section:

Marine plants were collected from the sublittoral zones of the Yotsukura coast (37.112°N, 140.995°E; depth of ∼1 m) and Ena coast (36.971°N, 140.958°E; depth of ∼5 m) along the 141.034°E), respectively. The samples from Yotsukura were collected 425 (May 2012), 496 (July 2012), 593 (October 2012), 639 (December 2012), 716 (February 2013), 803 (May 2013), 940 (October 2013), 1041 (January 2014), 1172 (May 2014), and 1557 (June 2015) days after the accident. Samples from Ena were collected 424 (May 2012), 495 (July 2012), 593 (October 2012), 640 (December 2012), 717 (February 2013), 803 (May 2013), 964 (October 2013), 1046 (January 2014), and 1174 (May 2014) days after the accident. The survey in June 2015 was conducted only in Yotsukura. We randomly collected two to six species of marine plants in each survey and an amount sufficient for analysis.


Sixteen plant species were collected and studied, eight brown algae species, seven red algae and one sea grass, 83 samples for each site. They were washed with artificial seawater and then subject, using normal procedures, to measurement of their radioactive profiles.

The following figure shows where the samples were collected:



The caption:

Figure 1. Sites from which seaweed and seagrass were collected on the Fukushima coast. Yotsukura and Ena are 35 and 50 km south of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, respectively. T-12 and T-20 indicate stations from which water samples were collected during the TEPCO survey. The map was generated using the free statistical software R (version 3.3.2, R Development Core Team, 2016) and its additional function “mapdata package” (version 2.2-6, Brownrigg et al., 2016) (https://cran.r-project.org/).


The authors' discuss the biological half-life of the three radioactive species studies, and their ecological half-life, as opposed to their radioactive half-lives.

The following table from the paper shows the results:



Graphics illustrating the same things.



The caption:

Figure 2. Variations in radioactive material concentrations in P. iwatensis and E. bicyclis after the nuclear accident. Panels a–d show the 110mAg, 134Cs, and 137Cs concentrations of marine plants and the 137Cs concentration in seawater, respectively. The left and right columns in panels a–c show data for P. iwatensis and E. bicyclis, respectively. Solid lines and dotted lines indicate regression lines for Yotsukura and Ena, respectively. Filled circles and empty circles in panel d show our survey value and NRA data,(21) respectively.


NRA here stands not for an organization of homicidal Trump voters but for the (presumably Japanese) "Nuclear Regulatory Administration."

Organisms can, and often do, concentrate elements from their environment. For example, coral concentrates uranium from seawater, and in fact, corals, were they not about go extinct because of ocean acidification and climate change while we all wait for the so called "renewable energy" nirvana that did not come, is not here, and will not come, would be low grade uranium ores.

This is true of cesium in seawater, as shown in the following graphic.



The caption:

Figure 3. Apparent concentration factor of 137Cs for marine plants. Empty and filled symbols represent data for Ena and Yotsukura, respectively. Circles and triangles are data for P. iwatensis and E. bicyclis, respectively. The dotted line indicates a concentration factor of 50, which is the IAEA’s recommended value for seaweed.


From the text:



Apparent Concentration Factor and Radioactive Nuclide Ratio of Marine Plants.
The 137Cs concentration of seawater after the accident was very high;6,7 however, it decreased rapidly to 0.1 Bq/L approximately 500 days after the accident at both sites. The concentration subsequently fluctuated, until it decreased to ∼0.01 Bq/L after 1500 days, which was close to the value before the accident23 (Figure 2d). The 137Cs concentration of seawater in both areas decreased significantly over time (Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient; for Yotsukura, rs = −0.655 and p < 0.01, and for Ena, rs = −0.682 and p < 0.01).

The temporal changes in the 137Cs concentrations of marine plants corresponded well with those of seawater. An apparent concentration factor (ACF) was calculated from the ratio of the 137Cs concentration of marine plants and seawater off Yotsukura and Ena. Samples that were below the detection limit were removed from the analysis.

Temporal variations in the ACF of 137Cs of P. iwatensis and E. bicyclis are shown in Figure 3. The ACF of each species was 2.90−244 for P. iwatensis and 4.20−192 for E. bicyclis. The ACF values of all samples increased until day 593 (October 2012) and then decreased until day 1041 (January 2014), after which they again showed a tendency to increase. The temporal changes in 134Cs/137Cs activity ratios and the 110mAg/137Cs activity ratios are shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4:



The caption:

Figure 4. Radioactive concentration ratios of radioactive materials of P. iwatensis and E. bicyclis The 134Cs/137Cs activity ratios are shown in panels a and b, while the 110mAg/137Cs activity ratios are shown in panels c and d. Additionally, panels a and c show the values for P. iwatensis, while panels b and d show those for E. bicyclis. Dotted lines in panels a and b indicate the theoretical line of the physical decrease in the 134Cs/137Cs activity ratios.


From the paper's conclusion:

Very few studies have investigated 110mAg contamination since the FDNPP accident. Qiu et al.38 reported that 110mAg contamination of the wharf roach originated from the FDNPP accident. Moreover, 110mAg was detected in soil around the FDNPP.37,39 It is also believed that 110mAg released into the air fell into the sea with rain and/or entered through rivers after the FDNPP accident,39 which might have resulted in a high concentration in seawater. However, the Ag in seawater was likely immediately transferred to seabed sediments because it has low solubility or was concentrated by zooplankton.10 It is believed that the 110mAg concentration of seawater along the Fukushima coast might have decreased rapidly because the primary source of 110mAg taken up by marine plants was highly contaminated seawater released directly into the ocean after the accident. The 110mAg/137Cs radioactive ratio was maintained at a high value over the next several years, suggesting that 110mAg of seagrass was positively taken up from sediments.

In this study, the lower detection limit was ∼0.1 Bq/kg of WW. However, since 2015, no 110mAg has been detected in P. iwatensis and E. bicyclis, and radioactive Cs has been detected in only a few marine plant samples, indicating that the transfer of radionuclides to the ecosystem in the future will be extremely small.


None of this implies that the Fukushima accident was not serious, although the majority of deaths in the area had nothing to do with nuclear power; the deadliest feature of the tsunami was seawater, and the argument that nuclear power should be abandoned because of Fukushima represents highly selective attention. If radiation from the destroyed reactors makes them "too dangerous" it follows that living in coastal cities is too dangerous, since almost all of the deaths connected with the event involved seawater and not radiation.

Air pollution kills seven million people each year. Since March of 2011, close to 60 million people have died from air pollution, roughly half the population of Japan.

Radionuclides have been and are released into the environment by the use of commercial nuclear power, but relative to natural radioactivity, the amounts are very small and the relative risk is small.

I always know I'm speaking to a fool when - and this happens a lot - the subject of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, where radioactive materials are migrating from leaking tanks, comes up when nuclear energy comes up. There was actually an ass here who called up one of my old posts to point out how "dangerous" nuclear power was (at least in his withered mind) because a tunnel on the Hanford reservation, which contained apparently some old rail cars on which decommissioned chemical reactors (with plutonium and other nuclide residues) were placed collapsed. The death toll from this event was zero. Nineteen thousand people, again and again and again, will die today from air pollution, and we have an asshole burning electricity, almost certainly generated using fossil fuels, to complain about the "danger" of some disused chemical reactors.

It boggles the mind that anyone could be so asinine as to think this way.

The technology utilized at Hanford in the creation of the tanks was conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy and war paranoia utilizing technology largely developed in the mid 1940's and 1950's. It was designed to extract weapons grade plutonium, a process which is inherently dirtier than reprocessing commercial nuclear fuels since it is necessary that this plutonium be in very low concentrations in the fuel. It is, in this sense, irrelevant to modern times.

It is almost impossible to grasp how much more chemistry we know than we knew in 1970. In 1970, for example, lanthanides, which are fission products, were largely chemical curiosities. Today they are essential components of modern technology, including many of the so called "renewable technologies" that have proved to be unsuccessful and overly lauded fetishes, given that they have not arrested the use of dangerous fossil fuels.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent to "clean up" Hanford, while we are not spending hundreds of billions of dollars to provide even a primitive level of sanitation to the more than one billion people on this planet who lack it. Hundreds of thousands people die from fecal waste as a result. There is no evidence that anyone has ever died from the leaching of the Hanford tanks, although perhaps some will someday, but even in Richland, Washington, the closest city to Hanford, it is very, very, very unlikely that the death toll from radioactivity at Hanford will even remotely approach the death toll from eating fatty food in that city, or for that matter, the death toll associated with automobile and diesel exhaust generated from pizza delivery cars and trucks delivering merchandise from China to Walmart.

Now. Some very good research is being done at PNNL, (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory) into the behavior of radioactive materials both in the environment and in processing. Not all of this money being spent there is therefore wasted, even though very few lives, face or will face significant risk as a result of the leaking tanks. If nothing were done at Hanford, many of the nuclides (not all, but many) would decay before the groundwater in them reached the Columbia River. If they do reach the river, they will have been diluted by the migration and finally by the river water, be constrained in sediments and more than likely never appear in concentrations in human flesh in an amount comparable to potassium in flesh.

Let's be clear. The renewable nirvana is not here. It's not coming. The insistence that we shut nuclear plants because people have an inordinately paranoid reaction to radioactivity because they are, frankly, extremely poorly educated, is killing the planet and the rate at which it is dying is accelerating, not slowing. It is not close to slowing.

Unless we think clearly, all of this is going to get worse, and, besides a destroyed atmosphere, we will have begun to mobilize radium and dump it on the surface of the planet where it will remain for thousands of years in a completely uncontrolled fashion. The radium, however, is nothing like the risk of carbon dioxide and climate change and the only reason to reflect upon it is to point out the hypocrisy of anti-nukes, who accept oil and gas radiation but are unwilling to accept the far less risky radiation in contained nuclear fuels.

Well, I'm having a wonderful afternoon, since I'm finally getting this post out. It's not perfect, I'm sure, but I certainly learned some interesting things for writing it. It took a long time, and I abandoned it several times, but this is a point I wanted to turn over in my mind, even if no one reads or likes it.

If you are reading it, I trust your day will as pleasant as mine is. Have a great weekend.





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Reply A Tale of 2 Radioactive Contamination Issues: the San Joaquin Oil Fields & Fukushima Seaweed & Tuna. (Original post)
NNadir Oct 12 OP
Eko Oct 12 #1
Hekate Oct 12 #2
Eko Oct 12 #3
Eko Oct 12 #4

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Oct 12, 2019, 06:00 PM

1. You are a liar.

"The journalists engaged in this reporting remind me of a really, really stupid guy who made it to my ignore list here who once represented that the collapse of a tunnel at the Hanford Reservation, which turned out to contain some slightly radioactive discarded chemical reactors, was somehow more important than the complete destruction of the planetary atmosphere by dangerous fossil fuel waste."
No where did I say that. This is what I said. "Totally safe.
Emergency Declared At Nuclear-Contaminated Site In Washington State
The Department of Energy has declared an emergency at a nuclear-contaminated site in Washington state, after soil caved in over a portion of a tunnel containing rail cars contaminated with nuclear waste."
https://www.democraticunderground.com/1127109489#post13

And here you are a liar again.
"There are actually people who think we cannot use the nuclear tool – the only tool which has worked on a significant scale – to address, slow, and perhaps even halt, the ongoing destruction of the entire planet’s atmosphere because some fool on a Trumpian intellectual level heard about a small tunnel with some rail cars in it with old chemical reactors contaminated with a small amount of residual plutonium. One hears these kinds of things, but one really doesn’t want to believe it."
on Post 9, well before your post I said,"Technology is technology, it is intrinsically not bad. Do I think we should use nuclear energy, sure, but to say solar, I mean freaking solar, is worse than nuclear seems,,,, well a little mad. "
https://www.democraticunderground.com/1127109489#post9

Quit lying.
Eko


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Response to Eko (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 12, 2019, 06:09 PM

2. Try discussing NNadir's post on the merits instead of calling names, Eko

Seriously

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Response to Hekate (Reply #2)

Sat Oct 12, 2019, 06:25 PM

3. I am discussing

exact quotes from the post right? Is that not discussing the merits? Maybe you failed to see where NNadir called me names on the post?
Thanks

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Response to Hekate (Reply #2)

Sat Oct 12, 2019, 06:26 PM

4. Like here?

"really, really stupid guy" and "some fool on a Trumpian intellectual level".

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