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Monday, June 6, 2011

Oregon stops monitoring radioactivity in air

Here we are living downwind from the worst nuclear disaster in history -- at least the second-worst, by anyone's reckoning -- and the State of Oregon has decided it's not worth it to run radiation monitors and report the outputs any more. No hearing, no notice, the bureaucrats just stop.

Why do we have an Oregon Health Authority, if not to monitor conditions that could harm our health? Maybe we need to make a few phone calls and send a few e-mail messages about this to the people in Salem who are supposed to be watching out for us. The Oregon health director is Dr. Melvin A. Kohn. His e-mail address is melvin.a.kohn@state.or.us and his phone number is 971-673-1222. The governor is also a doctor. His e-mail address is gov.kitzhaber@state.or.us and his phone number is 503-378-3111.

If there's nothing to worry about, then the public should see the numbers. It doesn't cost that much, and whatever it costs, it's worth it.

If further inspiration is needed, this interview is pretty telling. The whole thing is worth reading, but vis-a-vis air monitoring, there's this:

Arnie Gundersen: Well, I am in touch with some scientists now who have been monitoring the air on the West Coast and in Seattle for instance, in April, the average person in Seattle breathed in 10 hot particles a day.

Chris Martenson: What? I did not know that.

Arnie Gundersen: Well, the report takes some time to make its way into the literature. The average human being breathes about 10 meters a day of air, cubic meters of air. And the air out in the Seattle area are detecting, when they pull 10 cubic meters through them, this is in April now, so we are in the end of May so it is a better situation now. That air filter will have 10 hot particles on it. And that was before the Unit Four issue. Clearly we all can’t run south of the equator to our second homes in Rio or something like that. But it will stay north of the equator for anyone who has a Leer jet and can get out. But I guess what I am advising at that point [if the Fukushima reactor 4 building collapses -- JB] is keep your windows closed. I would definitely wear some sort of a filter if I was outside. I certainly wouldn’t run and exercise until I was sure the plume had dissipated. This isn’t now. This is, as you were saying, this is worst case. If Unit Four were to topple, I would close my windows, turn the air conditioner on, replace the filters frequently, damp mop, put a HEPA filter in the house and try to avoid as much of the hot particles as possible. You are not going to walk out with a Geiger counter and be in a plume that is going to tell you the meter. The issue will be on the West Coast, hot particles. And the solution there is HEPA filters and avoiding them.

UPDATE, 6/9/11, 2:23 p.m.: Despite contradictory messages on the state's web pages, apparently there's still some monitoring going on. Further details are here.

Comments (9)


Who is Arnie Gundersen.

"There are several other ongoing concerns at Fukushima some three months after the natural disasters hit, according to arms control expert Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund. Among them, he said: some 40,000 tons of highly radioactive water that threaten to overflow the holding tanks in the next few days. There is also, he added, the very serious possibility that the molten fuel now pooled at the bottom of the reactors could start nuclear reactions again.

'This crisis is far from over,' said Cirincione. 'Recent readings show that the radiation levels are the highest they have ever been [and] the plutonium detected in the soil show radioactive particulates continue to spew from the reactors.'"

If no measurements are taken, then no problem is detected. If no problem is detected, then agricultural production and export can continue without inhibition in OR, which is so dependent upon agricultural production and export.

Jack, I just want to thank you for your recognition of the importance of this story and your continued updating.

For the State of Oregon to downplay this so hard is a scandal. That means you, Gail Shibley.

The two worst cases that are still possible are (1) reactor building 4 collapses, and its spent fuel winds up on the ground in open air, and (2) the bottom of one of the reactor cores (probably no. 3) rots out from the intense heat of corium (radioactive lava) and corrosion from the sea water they have pumped in, dropping the corium to the basement of the reactor building.

Even in a best case, the radioactive water has already wrecked the ocean, has probably reached the groundwater (a dirty secret the Japanese government isn't talking about), and can't be filtered by any filtering system that currently exists. That's all over and above airborne contamination, which persists at low levels. Chernobyl is eventually going to look small by comparison.

10 particles of what? What Isotope, what energy, what kind of radiation? I'll bet its not even measurable its so small & minute. Most ash is full of lo-level radioactivity, go sniff your charcoal grill! If you are going to promote paranoia at least learn about what you think you are afraid of? We need Vitamin "D" from the sun, and "Oh, by the way" it emits RADIATION!

I emailed both the Governor and the Oregon Health Director, and today received this reply from Daryl Leon of the state department of Radiation Protection Services:

Dear (“Bee”)

I received a copy of your email noted below regarding radiation monitoring in Oregon and would like to assure you that yes, Oregon is continuing to sample and analyze both air and water (rain, sea water, drinking water) and there is no plan to cease these operations.

One of my primary functions in the Office of Environmental Public Health, department of Radiation Protection Services, is performing the sampling as well as analysis of these media and submitting the data for website posting.

Unfortunately, the website was frozen from 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2nd, until Monday, June 6th at 5 p.m. so the data, although available to post on the website on June 3rd, could not be posted until June 7th.

The website url for current data is:


Currently, my department is sampling and analyzing air twice per week and monitoring ambient air radiation levels daily. Water samples (rain, sea, and drinking) are taken and analyzed monthly. (note: if an increase is noted in ambient air radiation, water and air sampling efforts return to a daily schedule.)

Please note that data on the website is through June 7th and the next data update scheduled 10th will be posted tomorrow after the samples have been drawn and analyzed.

The radiation levels seen for the first three weeks after the reactor crisis in both rain water and air were higher than normal background but 1000's of times less than a public protective action trigger level (which are, in turn, very conservative). The primary radioactive material identified was Iodine-131. The levels seen are much less than those measured during the Chernobyl crisis in 1986 in Oregon (again by my department) and only one public health advisory notice was sent out for persons who obtain drinking water from rain water to switch to a different source. The radioactive material (Iodine-131) is a short-lived radionuclide and after 3 months, will essentially be indistinguishable from background radiation and we are nearing that time frame now. (assuming there have been no new releases as Japan has stated!) Milk has been (and continues to be) analyzed by the U.S. EPA and their results show that Oregon's milk had no detectable levels of Iodine-131 in it.

I agree with the uncertainty regarding the Japan reactors and potential for a radiation cloud, hence the continuing sample schedule. Japanese officials have stated that there has been no intentional releases of airborne radionuclides for at least 2 months, however, until the situation is better known and addressed, there is no plan to discontinue our sampling at this time.

Hopefully, I have addressed your concerns adequately and welcome any further questions you may have. I can also provide information on the YouTube video you attached in your email, if you desire it.

Daryl A. Leon
Radiation Health Physicist
Radiation Protection Services

(end letter)

Jack’s blog links to a page in the Oregon Department of Public Health website devoted to Air Monitoring and “Japan 2011 Radiation event,” which does say “This information is no longer being updated as this is not considered a local hazard at this time.” However, below it is a link that says “See ongoing air monitoring data provided by the Radiation Protection Services.” Perhaps this link was added after Jack looked at and reported on the site.

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