Skip to main content

Putting The Radiation Release at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in the Proper Perspective

Let me make something clear at the outset: All over the world, the nuclear industry takes the events in Japan very seriously. With that in mind, here's some proper perspective from We Support Lee on just how much radioactive material was released from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant this week:
According to news sources, the leak of radiation at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Japan was 90,000 Becquerels, which is one billionth of the legal limit for radioactivity release.

90,000 Bq (Becquerels) means 90,000 disintegrations per second.

[...]

How much is 90,000 Bq in the medical world? Medical patients regularly receive 240 million Becquerels during treatments for hyperthyroidism. That's 2667 times what was released into the Sea of Japan.

These patients, some of whom are probably at a clinic in your town right now, watch tv, walk around, sit, talk, read, and disintegrate 131I at 2667 times the rate that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant's release in the Sea of Japan is decaying.

The bottom line is that the radiation released during the earthquake is insignificant.
So when others start to compare this incident to Chernobyl, please keep this in mind.

Comments

Amazing crystal ball that Lee must have, seeing as the Wall Street Journal today reported there were unknown leaks occurring as late as WEDNESDAY NIGHT...let me guess, Lee has friends in high places at Tokyo Electric Power? That would at least explain his bias.
Joffan said…
I'm surprised, oh three-headed one, that you trust anything published in the WSJ.

And if by "crystal ball" you mean "access to CNN's web site", I guess We Support Lee qualifies. I know it's hard when people cite their sources, but those little links do come in handy. Personally I think the Internet is miles better than a crystal ball.

I freely confess that I am biased towards reality. Fiction is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
Matthew66 said…
We Support Lee is an amazingly good blog, written by Ms. Ruth Sponsler. I've always found that Ruth cites reputable sources for her information rather than dabbling in the black arts.
Joseph said…
If I did the arithmetic right, 90,000 Becquerels is the same number of disintegrations per second as the potassium 40 in 300 gallons of orange juice.
Luke said…
It says here that orange juice has 436 mg of K per 250ml.

http://www.truestarhealth.com/Notes/1795005.html

Relative abundance of K-40 is 1.2*10^-4, Specific Activity is 2.59*10^5 Bq/g.

(90000 Bq * 0.25L) / (436*10^-3 g * 1.2*10^-4 * 2.59*10^5 Bq/g) = 1,660 L, or 438.5 gallons.

That's close to the volume of water released from the plant. Ergo, one notes that the water was pretty much radiologically equivalent to orange juice.
Don Kosloff said…
How can the Wall Street Journal, or anybody, "report" on that which they state is "unknown", as in "there were unknown leaks"? Who manufactures the crystal ball that the Wall Street reporters use?
Anonymous said…
I found biased language on Forbes.com the other day. They had reprinted an article from the Associated Press. I wrote them a comment along the same lines, comparing the release to what is typically used for medical procedures, although I used Curies instead of Bacquerels.

Release from plant: 2 to 3 microCuries. Typical dose for one infusion of a rest/stress study for myocardial perfusion imaging: 60 milliCuries. Note that is more than 1000 times.

The interesting thing, my company is contracting on a project to design a new infusion cart, and the most serious risks are not radiation doses. They are things like electrical contact with the saline supply, which reaches all the way to the patient's heart, or air bubbles appearing in the line. In fact, due to the characteristics of the generator, it would be fairly difficult to give someone a harmful dose.

Of course similar risk disparities abound for any honest risk assessment done for pretty much anything having to do with nuclear technology.

-Aaron
bvidalin said…
Here is a link to TEPCO's press release regarding damage at their plant.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu07_e/images/070719e1.html

This is why I draw a different conclusion than what's presented in the world's media.

Bill V.
Anonymous said…
Is there a rule-of-thumb for converting Becquerels to rems or Sieverts? On this particular incident, I noted in another blog that the radioactivity of the water releases were quantified in Becquerels (per litre) whereas the radioactive air borne releases were quantified in Sieverts. Why is this? I have seen the nuclear industry expend a lot of time and effort trying to put radioactivity into context for the public, i.e. comparing the ionising radiation of background sources to living at or next door to a nuclear power plant, so why would the industry confuse the issue by throwing in Becquerels at this point?

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…