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Japan’s radiation has arrived in California

The nuclear disaster in Japan has increased from a 4 to 5 on a scale of 1 to 7.

These are categories on the International Nuclear and Radiological Events Scale (INES), which runs from zero (nothing happened, essentially) to seven, a "major accident".

So far, Chernobyl is the only seven-rated incident in nuclear history.

Level five is defined as an "accident with wider consequences".

[Source, BBC News Science & Environment, Japan raises nuclear alert level]

Three Mile Island was also a level 5 incident. Now the radiation has reached the United States.

[1:39 p.m. ET Friday, 2:39 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Monitors in Sacramento, California, have detected a small amount of radioactive material from the earthquake-struck nuclear power plant in Japan, an official with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization said. The exact amounts were not available, but were far less than what would be considered harmful to human health, the official said.

[Source, CNN, Japan quake live blog: Small amount of radiation reaches California, official says]

Before you put on your tinfoil hats (and remember, mine is shinier than yours), and cover your testicles in aluminum foil, re-read the sentence that the radiation is "far less than what would be considered harmful to human health."

Update: Another doctor cautions against over-reaction:

"I think the biggest health impact is the psychological impact," said Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "Anytime people hear ‘radiation’ it evokes a level of fear that is disproportionate to the threat."

[Source, The New York Times, For Radiation, the Alarm Bells Are Boxes]

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Hurricane Creek Keeper tells of Gestapo Style TVA Police

My friend had a similar experience:

TVA’s private security detained our friend as (TVA’s words) an “environmental activist.” Cathy asked last night, what does one fear from an environmental activist at a toxic waste site? Are they afraid they’ll pull out a paper towel and start cleaning?

TVA’s private security, described as dressed in dark uniforms with no clear insignia, took our friend’s picture, took personal and professional contact information, recorded the license plate, commented on the contents of the vehicle, commented on the environmental bumper stickers, and kept our friend detained in the car for a half an hour. Our friend had turned onto a side road but not crossed any fence, barricade or posting of any kind.

Read more about the Tennessee coal sludge spill on Wikipedia.