Posted on Leave a comment

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]

Posted on 2 Comments

53 Years of Nuclear Bombs

How many nuclear bombs have been exploded? Many people would say, "One, over Japan" when it fact it was two, one over Hiroshima and another over Nagasaki. Would you believe that Britain has exploded a nuclear bomb in the United States? Would you believe that in 53 years 2053 nuclear bombs were exploded around the globe? I find the following video unsettling. It left me feeling hollow in my chest and subtly angry.

[Source, Isao Hashimoto, 1945-1998]