U.S. West Coast: Pay Attention to Japan Nuclear Situation

Map circulating on the Internet illustrates the potential of a full-scale meltdown. The map has gone viral and is causing some controversy. Fallout from nuclear reactors in northeastern Japan would presumably be carried by the jetstream to the West Coast of the United States. Wind trends illustrated by this map are said to be correct -- but note that the radiation levels are impossible based on what is publicly known about the situation. Also there is no time rate given for the dosage; usually rads would be per hour, but according to one source I trust those numbers per hour are more like what someone would have experienced at ground zero at Chernobyl.

There is no such thing as a local nuclear disaster. While we are waiting to hear the status of Fukushima 1 after Saturday’s explosion, and the status of the other four Japanese nuclear power plants that are in trouble after yesterday’s 8.9 quake, I suggest we get used to the possibility of a core meltdown. The fact that some element of the Fukushima 1 plant exploded this afternoon, likely the result of a hydrogen buildup, suggests efforts to mitigate damage might not be going so well.

Surveys of the building after the explosion are inconclusive as to the extent of the damage to the containment structure.

“This is still a serious situation,” said Michael Marriotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), which has been tracking nuclear issues since 1978 — shortly after the Three Mile Island accident. “It’s not a full meltdown, but right now it could go either way,” he added.

“The government is saying that the explosion Saturday afternoon did not breach containment,” he said. But he added that it’s possible that the containment structure could blow. He said that the General Electric Mark 1 plant, of which this is one, was designed to be cheap rather than safe. There are 23 of these plants currently operating in the United States, he said. His organization has posted a list of those plants on its website.

In a statement released this afternoon, Marriotte wrote, “There are indications that there has been some fuel melting, and there are reports that some radioactive cesium has been detected. Utility officials are reportedly now planning to pump in seawater directly, perhaps with boron added, in an effort to cool the reactor and avert further fuel melt. This may, if it works, also permanently disable the reactor (although at this point we believe this reactor could never operate again in any case).”

He said that plant engineers are also preparing to vent pressure from three reactors inside Fukushima 2, which indicates they are having difficulty keeping the cores of those reactors cool as well. “You don’t vent these things unless you have to,” he said, “so it’s hard to tell” how serious the situation is at Fukushima 2.

Official reports are suggesting that the radiation levels are down, but the TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) public radiation monitoring system went down at the time of the initial quake and has not come back online yet. Marriotte said that there are other monitoring systems that can be used by government and industry but the one generally available to the public is not working.

As for the map above, which has been attributed to Australian Radiation Services, Mariotte said that the wind patterns are correct but the radiation figures given are way off. At the current levels he said there would be no increased radiation in the United States, however, these wind patterns and increased levels would come into play in the event that the core melts down. He said that the Pacific Northwest would get the most radiation, in that event.

31 thoughts on “U.S. West Coast: Pay Attention to Japan Nuclear Situation”

  1. Hazel,.. (just for myself to be clear [mantra] “this isn’t ‘my’ dog, just a dog I’m raising for a few”!). I gotta keep saying it or I may have an attachment. ..,but hell yeah, yellow lab, 6 months old (beyond freakin’ gorgeous colors, smart as all hell, and awnry as a puppy lab!!). Yes, she eats EVERYTHING!, and I mean it. But, when she hangs with me,.. she gets some actually pretty decent stuff. ….. (I think it’s more difficult to raise someone elses puppy than it is to raise your own kid..).. ?? (For me..)

    Good time dogs! 🙂


  2. Diana:

    Be careful going out in the sun with lavender oil on your skin, lavender can cause a skin rash when it’s on skin exposed to the sun. Probably the vegetable oil will help some with that, but be take care with the lavender just in case. Jere: your dog eats arugula and rosemary flowers? I thought mine was weird liking strawberries and bananas. I had one once who went wild for ripe cantaloupe!

  3. ..I was just munchin’ on some arugula, broccoli flowers, and rosemary flowers with my dog friend before I typed this (..we like to explore the yard.).

    Diana, the term ‘product’, I will admit, kinda puts me on edge. But, I do understand the current socio-economic-intaglio, and therefore the Understanding of where This Whole Entire Collective is at. I will use your knowlege to build an understanding within myself, therefore I might participate with others to create a cooler existence (no Al Gore puns intended).

    (holding the link)


  4. Hi Jere ~ yes Seaweed, all types of wonderful greens will help to detoxify and purify the blood; there is a product called Mineral Essence will also contains iodine and about 60 trace minerals which are needed for optimal cellular functions. Pacific Kelp and spirulina are more greens that will help detoxify.

    I also take several oils internally (therapeutic or medical grade) to detoxify and boost my immune system like Frankincense, Sandalwood, Orange, Oregano, Thyme, Clove.

    For those in the area, a combination of Myrrh, lavender and organic vegetable oil will protect the skin.

    A miracle has occurred: a man of 90 was rescued from the roof of his house as it floated 10 miles off the coast! I am continually focused on contributing to the highest outcome of this situation including that people wake up to the fact that life is precious, chemical manipulations are dangerous and a new way of life is being chosen by all… one that respects nature and all of life.

  5. Diana,.. Seaweed. It’ll help remove any funky particles. (..may be a bad time to say this but, I’d go for the Northwest European varieties…)

    (Still holding the link)


  6. Here is information from the CDC about Iodine and Potassium Iodide: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp

    It is time for humanity to wake up and realize that what happens to one happens to all.

    Personally, I am expecting miracles to happen, be experienced and witnessed on all levels. We must shift the energy into that which we would rather experience. We have the ability to shift situations and now is a perfect example. Let us contribute to the positive possibilites that exist.

    Blessings to all…

  7. Gosh, Charles, the patience and kindness of the people on this site towards your aggressive, rude and personal tone never ceases to amaze me. I hope you appreciate them.

  8. Can someone please shed a light on what exactly happens to all that seawater being pumped in the reactor that has had partial exposure to rods as indicated by the detectable levels of cesium. Where is that water going to after being exposed?

    I cannot imagine all the international reporters flocking to Japan to set up their media bases. What are these people thinking? This situation is probably going to worsen and the radioactive fallout could be the worse we have ever witnessed.

    I also would like to hear more about how this has changed the earth’s axis. Those reports came out last night. Any postings, Eric, beyond the regular CNN route would be so appreciated.

    Please be kind to one another. If you disagree, yes, but saying some one should be “ashamed” is an old control tactic. Haven’t we had enough pain?

    This is an excellent reminder for people to take stock in what is in their pantries both for short term and long term emergencies. Those potassium iodide tablets are inexpensive, have a pretty good shelf life, and have been part of our short term emergency packs for years. After researching it, we even bought enough for our pets. When things get chaotic is not the time to start planning. Get a back pack, make a checklist, use online resources to help plan what is important to have, and invest in yourself. Stick it in the closet and hope you never have to see it again.

    Although this is a terrible tragedy I try to remind myself that part of this journey is to find peace and remember the light we are, even when it seems so impossible to do so. The world is watching and we can choose to connect with the loving aspect of this experience.

  9. I have been watching the news feed online at BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698 under the LIVE tab. It seems the best source for new info so far today, though what has been posted here has been helpful as well.

    I can’t help but think of the Mayan Unity Consciousness change that began Wednesday, the last day of this era before the baktun change, and there is something big to the simple idea of us humans using our energies, intentions, prayers (whatever term works for you) to get through this event that effects all of us on planet earth. I believe this is an action we can take, despite our being so far away… to direct our energy toward healing of those in Japan that have survived, and even healing the damaged reactors. Healing for those who have their emotions come out ‘sideways’ and attack others. What could love do?

    This sort of trial seems to be only the beginning of the changes ahead (thinking of the Pluto/Uranus squares that just won’t let up in months to come, one after the other without a break; I am sorry for the ocean reference with the recent tsunami, but I think it may be like when you are just in the ‘wrong’ spot when playing in the ocean at the beach, but getting knocked over and over again by waves, disoriented, barely coming up for air before the next wave hits). It is up to us to navigate these events and come out the other side a different people, who work together as a community so all can prosper, in harmony with our planet.

    I read A Canticle for Leibowitz in the 80’s, and reread it a few years ago. I was just so saddened that after all those centuries humans made the same mistake and used nuclear weapons again…. but hopeful because of the ending, with that new innocent who might start us over on a new path. Are we the ones who can take us down a new path? I don’t think we have any other choice. And it could be as simple a beginning as collectively intending our energy toward that end.

    Thanks for listening….
    With love to all,

  10. Kathy, in my caption above, I describe the parts of the map that are a fake and the parts that are valid. The numbers and timelines have no basis. The wind patterns do.

  11. Looking again at the Sibley chart for the US, where according to Eric “the first self sustaining reaction took place”, I notice that Mars has been transiting Pisces opposite natal Varuna in Virgo. From what I can gather about Varuna (having checked out the site of Nick Anthony Fioranza’s called Lunarplanner.com) the message of Varuna seems to be that we have to return to the ways of nature. As he puts it, “Varuna’s arrival into humanity’s awareness in 2000 may have been a part of our motivation to take serious action regarding ecological conditions in the world–making blatantly clear that we must change our ways–to nature’s way.”

    I think the discussion we are attempting to have here is that humankind pays an unspeakably heavy price by depending on nuclear power and that building nuclear reactors on land that is precariously near fault lines, is foolhardy and we seriously need to choose natural alternatives such as solar and wind power and the like. These discussions are the byproduct of hearing the potential for a nuclear catastrophe out of Japan.


    Charles, may I add, from what I can gather from the several posts you have written since the earthquake, you seem to a strong affiliation with Japan that may make your response more emotional about the devastation than many of us are showing here. I don’t know. I’m only throwing that out there and you can set me right. I have no interest in judging where you are coming from and just present that as an attempt to intuit your strong, sometimes harsh comments.

    I do take issue with one of them especially:

    “What facts are equally obvious: the *sheer glee* that some people like Eric are having over this incident, like they would actually be glad if there was a meltdown and major incident. They’re hoping this disaster might even get worse, to aid their campaign against nuclear power. That attitude is repulsive and an insult to those people who have died in this tragedy.”

    I actually find that comment repulsive Charles, especially the *sheer glee* part. That Eric and others here are attempting to guide us through this horrible tragedy that has so many scenarios to it, earthquake, tsunami, and now the potential of nuclear meltdown, is to my mind not causing anyone to show “glee” or to seize the opportunity to fire up any political agenda regarding the use of nuclear power. Just because I am not commenting on my reaction to the death and the destruction does not mean my heart does not ache for the people of Japan. It most certainly does, and by discussing the fragility of the situation re. the reactors etc it is to think that we must avert that tragedy that would surely turn up the suffering another notch. That graphic that illustrated what areas *might* be affected by the fallout of a meltdown didn’t grab my attention, because my focus and my prayers are for the people of Japan as they dig out their loved ones from the piles of rubble.

    My recommendation for you, if you are finding this all too much, is not to venture in when your emotions are running that high.

  12. Charles-
    Can’t quite get a clear sense of where your nastiness is coming from and why you are taking the tone you are.

    It seems like you have a lot of experience, but then again, who knows what to believe?

    Relax and take a chill pill if Eric’s reporting has pushed you over the edge to Know-It-All-Ville. You can certainly make your opinions known without calling Eric “Bush.”

    come on buddy…..Peace.

  13. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/US-Nuclear-Experts-Worry-About-Possible-Japan-Reactor-Meltdown-117863244.html

    US Nuclear Experts Worry About Possible Japan Reactor Meltdown

    Mike O’Sullivan | Los Angeles March 12, 2011

    “Nuclear energy analyst Robert Alvarez of the Institute for Policy Studies says there are many things we do not know about the failure, including whether the containment structure is fully intact. “The information that has been made public, particularly by the Japanese nuclear safety authorities, certainly indicate that radioactive elements from the fuel itself have escaped and entered the environment. And even if the reactor maintains its integrity, there’s a possibility that things like open relief valves on the top of the reactor and things like that may still release large amounts of radioactivity,” he said.

    Ken Bergeron, a physicist who formerly worked for Sandia National Laboratories, says a so-called station blackout – which involves the loss of both off-site electricity and on-site backup power from diesel generators – is viewed in the nuclear industry as extremely unlikely. But he says it happened.

    “So we’re in uncharted territory. We’re in the land where probability says we shouldn’t be. And we’re hoping that all of the barriers to release of radioactivity will not fail,” he said.

    He said the first barrier, the so-called fuel cladding what covers the reactor rods, has apparently failed, which he says is shown by the release of radiation into the atmosphere. “

  14. Ironically, this unit was due to be shut down on March 26 (according to Wikipedia.) Thanks for everyone’s input.

  15. A very real issue is TEPCO’s shaky history of operation in Japan. They have falsified safety data, tried to hide cracks located in multiple areas of multiple reactors, and even built the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactor on a chunk of land they knew contained a major fault line (while claiming no such fault line existed). A friend in Tokyo tells me that people in Japan just don’t trust the company at all.

    I just pulled this off of Wikipedia:

    On August 29, 2002, the government of Japan revealed that TEPCO was guilty of false reporting in routine governmental inspection of its nuclear plants and systematic concealment of plant safety incidents. All seventeen of its boiling-water reactors were shut down for inspection as a result. TEPCO’s president, Nobuya Minami, was later forced to resign, and the utility “eventually admitted to two hundred occasions over more than two decades between 1977 and 2002, involving the submission of false technical data to authorities”.[3] Upon taking over leadership responsibilities, TEPCO’s new president issued a public commitment that the company would take all the countermeasures necessary to prevent fraud and restore the nation’s confidence. By the end of 2005, generation at suspended plants had been restarted, with government approval.

    In 2007, however, the company announced to the public that an internal investigation had revealed a large number of unreported incidents. These included an unexpected unit criticality in 1978 and additional systematic false reporting, which hadn’t been uncovered during the 2002 inquiry. Along with scandals at other Japanese electric companies, this failure to ensure corporate compliance resulted in strong public criticism of Japan’s electric power industry and the nation’s nuclear energy policy. Again the company made no effort to identify those responsible.

  16. Acknowledging that there is a lot of pain here and it would be inhuman if not so….. I just want to register that I find very little of panic energy in these comments and as a matter of fact was grateful to read the semi-debunking of that graphic map image….. here. To read some facts about how to take the information portrayed there. I also appreciate the carefulness with which we all try to hold these difficult events unfolding, what is fact, what is rumor, what is closely held opinion….. My perception is that everyone here is quite careful with all of this. I am grateful to all of us.

    I myself am very far from panic. Panic is a waste of energy. I have no time for it. Just do my best to meet what comes.

  17. CNN is reporting now that Officials are saying nuclear failure may be underway..They say conflicting reports are out there now that nuclear meltdown is occuring now…

  18. Charles, thank you for the additional information and point of view you’ve made available here. I appreciate it.


  19. Japan has had 3 Prime Ministers in the last 3 years. The people don’t trust the government and the locals are worried. They don’t trust the information the government is giving them about the nuclear reactors.

    This isn’t me rambling, it is straight from the Sunrise news report in Melbourne this morning. Reporters are speaking to locals and this is the sentiment circulating in Japan at the moment.

    This is our planet and we have every reason to be concerned.

    Thank you Eric

  20. jbird, I am a former employee of the USGS Seismology Lab (although I am not a seismologist) and I know a lot more about this sort of quake than most. I did college level studies in nuclear physics, so my knowledge of that area is pretty good. I am watching Japanese TV just like millions of Japanese people are, and I am fluent in Japanese and occasionally work as a professional translator. I am getting this info long before it is translated into English. For those who can comprehend Japanese, I recommend the NHK iPhone application.

    English news sources from Japan are lagging due to translation delays but here is an article describing the explosion, a photo of the building (far less damaged than you might expect, just the roof blown off) and description of quenching the reactor with seawater and neutron-damping boron.


    For further info, the NYTimes headlines right now state that the reactor is flooded and government officials declared the risk of meltdown is over.

    Let me state the facts that are not obvious: if the worst case scenario had happened and there was a major release of radioactivity, the deaths it would cause would be miniscule in proportion to the numbers of people already dead from the quake. Japanese media is talking about one town with 25,000 people missing and presumed dead. This quake was about 1000 times the intensity that the reactor was built to withstand, it should be viewed as a monumental triumph of engineering that the reactor didn’t tear itself to pieces instantly.

    What facts are equally obvious: the sheer glee that some people like Eric are having over this incident, like they would actually be glad if there was a meltdown and major incident. They’re hoping this disaster might even get worse, to aid their campaign against nuclear power. That attitude is repulsive and an insult to those people who have died in this tragedy.

  21. Hey Charles,

    I am wondering what are your sources for knowing that the containment is intact. Are you there, in Japan? What sources can you give us to help alleviate the alleged “fear mongering”? Most of us are trying to find out what is going on, with the aim of not being unnecessarily afraid of these consequences, yet aware of what might indeed happen. So if you have some inside info, why not share it so we can evaluate your statements?

  22. Eric,

    Grateful for your efforts at keeping me abreast of more real news that I could get from a mainstream media source – which is much about exhibiting and expounding on the extreme trauma of millions of people as though it were a reality tv show anyway.

    I take responsibility for disseminating what you post as I would with any other news or reporting service. Just as I can take-or-leave what NBC broadcasts, I use my education, other resources and belief system to filter PW.

    IYou open a healthy portal of information here – and that we can openly discuss it makes it all the more viable and important.

    No doubt we already owe much to many brave and heroic workers in Japan. Thanks to them many others will endure far less suffering. For their efforts and much more we will continue to be grateful during this tremendous man-made tragedy.

    I remember my first No-Nukes rally on D.C around 30 years ago……..methinks it is not the last.

  23. Eric, you are a panic monger. Stop that shit.

    We DO know the status of the containment building, the explosion took place outside, and containment is still intact. They are currently flooding the reactor with seawater, which was the last resort. Once the reactor is flooded with salt water, it will never operate again. TEPCO was faced with a hard choice, should they continue to try to save the reactor, or should they just quench it permanently and destroy it. Radiation levels are already dropping from the previous (low) levels. Heroic nuclear workers have risked their lives to save the public from damage, and are continuing to do so.

    It is unfortunate that you must propagate the most dramatic scenarios that can never happen. You are being irrational and hysterical. The world is full of lunatics that can make a map showing what would happen if all of the reactor’s material went into the atmosphere. But this isn’t Chernobyl, it’s a different design. All you are doing is spreading irrational fears over something can never happen, and that has already been handled.

    It is a shame that you are unable to analyze the simple facts of the situation without your obvious extreme biases. And it is despicable that you would use a tragedy with now estimates of 1000 dead, to push your political agenda. The Japanese citizenry are not suffering and dying for your exclusive enjoyment at a new chance to promote your politics.

    So let’s make a simple comparison, you tell me the difference:

    1. Nearly 3000 people dead in the collapse of the World Trade Center. An unscrupulous, biased politician uses that event to whip up public hysteria to promote his political agenda.

    2. Nearly 1000 (and still counting) people dead in a massive earthquake. A reactor is damaged but under control. An unscrupulous, biased blogger uses that event to whip up public hysteria to promote his political agenda.

    What’s the basic difference? NONE. You have become what you abhor. You should just change your name to Eric W. Bush.

    Look, I’m not going to state whether I agree or disagree with your political opinions, because that is not the point. The point is, if I disagreed with you, no rational facts would engage with your demagoguery. If I agreed with you, I’d be embarrassed to have you on my side, you make your political sympathizers look silly, if they align themselves with your ridiculous extremism.

    But mostly, Eric, I have utter contempt for people who use the tragic deaths and suffering of others to promote their politics. Your behavior is just despicable. Stop it.

  24. Has anybody read A Canticle for Leibowitz by Miller ( I think it was Walter Miller) ? I read it in high school. Probably not the most cheerful thing to read right now.

  25. We don’t know the status of the containment building. A Reuters piece out of India today was not so optimistic. Surveys are inconclusive. Somebody knows however.

  26. Thank you, Eric. The first thing I saw in my email this morning was an image of that map. I then discovered the reactor had not, in fact, been breached by last night’s explosion…..

    I really appreciate being able to come to Planet Waves for this kind of information. Yes, I can find most of it myself, but because of your focus upon what you determine to be important (which values I share) I can almost always trust that with developments such as this, the key information will be right here. I am truly grateful for that.

  27. The image is a fake. If you knew anything about nuclear disasters you would know that according to that map basically the whole USA would be devastated which would have to be hundreds/thousands of times bigger than Chernobyl.

    The only way it would effect USA in the worst case scenario is some radiation falling in rain, fish, cows, sheep etc eating grass. Then people eating the cows and sheep which would cause some problems but no where near what Europe had to deal with.

    Currently what’s happening in Japan is a local nuclear disaster.

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