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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.


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.

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 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.

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

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?

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