Uranium found in California air samples

Data and reports on www.llrc.org top story:

LLRC has been noting the lack of information on Uranium from Fukushima. Spent fuel ponds have suffered unknown amounts of damage and the precautionary approach would suggest assuming it is in the environment. Now (thanks to correspondent JM) we have evidence that this is the case. High Volume Air Sampling filters operated by the US Environmental Protection Agency in California, Washington, Hawaii, Guam and Saipan (half-way between Japan and northern Australia) show an increasing trend with proximity to Fukushima. The inevitable suspicion has to be that Japan is more heavily contaminated, as we feared. It is extremely likely that Plutonium is also present although EPA reports it has not been detected. It is of gravest concern that the Japanese public are not being warned of the hazard to health posed by inhalation of Uranium and Plutonium.

Data and reports on www.llrc.org top story


What Tim is saying is true for Low Enriched Uranium. But in Fukushima the are using MOX too, which has Plutonium, not U-235. Cannot it be comming from that?

The purpose if using

The purpose if using Plutonium in MOX is to enrich the normal Uranium it is mixed with so that U-235 is still the main source of fission and heat.

You would still see U-235 in that case as well.


Well, accotding to the Wikipedia Mox article, it does not necessarily contain U235. But it is also tru, that EPA did npt detect Plutonium either.

But, another question comes to my mind. If it were from Fukushima, then it would likely be spent fuel. Would it have enough U235 or Plutonium in it in this case too to detect them along with U234 and U238?

As you said, EPA did not

As you said, EPA did not detect plutonium (and neither have we). Plutonium is actually present in both MOX and non-MOX fuel after it has been burned for some time. In non-MOX, spent fuel is (very roughly) 1% U-235 and 1% Pu-239. In MOX, spent fuel has even more Pu-239.

An interesting thing we're investigating is how much fallout came from the reactor versus the spent fuel. The fact that we see I-131 indicates that most of the fallout we are analyzing is probably from the reactor (the half life of I-131 is too short for it to hang around in spent fuel).

Tim [BRAWM Team Member]


I see, thank you. So of the spent fuel, about 1 percent is U235 and 1percent is Plutonium. But, their half life is much shorter than the half life of U238, so I guess 1% mass corresponds to higher percent radiation (if the intensity is similar). Could you tell me what percent the radiation would be? Is that strong enough to be detected?

In the case of Fukushima,

In the case of Fukushima, the MOX is 6% PU and >92% Uranium. The method for heat generation is to use the Plutonium to enrich the natural U-234 to U-235 by neutron capture. The U-238 in the rods will also exhibit neutron capture and turn into more PU-239, which keeps the amount of PU relatively stable so it can contribute to heat generation. The main point of having the Plutonium there is to enrich Uranium and reduce stockpiles of PU.

That being the case, you would detect U-235 if the emissions were from reactor three as well.


I see, thank you very much.
And you would detect it even if it is the spent fuel? It seems from what I read that the spent fuel has much lower U235 in it.
I live in Tokyo now, so I would really like to be convinced that it is not coming from Fukushima...

The results we are talking

The results we are talking about are from air monitoring in California. If you are in Tokyo, then these results would not apply.


Well, of course. But the Japanese government is not publishing any fata about Uranium and Plutonium.
The data I'm worried about is the ones from Guam and Hawaii. Because if that Uranium came from Fukushima, then it must be really high here.

So from what you say, I understand that those high values of Uranium in Guam and Hawaii could not come from the reactor, because there would be U235 in that case. But how about the spent fuels? Could they have come from there?

I am not an expert, but I

I am not an expert, but I read an article and that needs to be verified, because the overall concentrations found of uranium in the air in guam and Hawaii are higher than California (not sure how to look that up), that article assumed it is from fukushima.(lost the article)

Uranium and Plutonium

Uranium and Plutonium contamination are likely in the Fukushima region because of the fuel pools' degradation. This is not a given, but it would be far more likely to find heavy elements in Japan than in Guam, Hawaii, or Western North America, as it is more difficult for those particles to travel long distances in quantity in the troposhpere.

Obviously it does get transported, in that the levels detected in California are probably from coal plants in China, but if heavy element fallout happens locally to Fukushima, there is no guarantee we would detect it here or not. The same goes for Tokyo.

This is why I said that the results don't apply.

The EPA data on Uranium is

The EPA data on Uranium is very encouraging, because we only see U-234 and U-238. These are the two prominent sources of radiation in natural uranium. In fact, in natural uranium these two have almost the exact same radioactivity. This is reflected in the EPA data; there are comparable amounts of U-234 and U-238 in various locations.

If this uranium were from a reactor, which uses enriched uranium, we would see two things:

1) A lot more U-234, about 5 to 10 times higher than the activity of U-238. This is not consistent with the levels we are seeing (the link posted above has a table of the measurements).

2) A lot more U-235. Currently neither we nor the EPA have detected any U-235.

As a result, I would conclude that these levels of uranium are not from Japan, but likely from other sources (likely coal power plants, but could also be from the ground, etc.).

Tim [BRAWM Team Member]


What Tim is saying is true for Low Enriched Uranium. But in Fukushima the are using MOX too, which has Plutonium, not U-235. Cannot it be comming from that?

Does this mean that uranium

Does this mean that uranium has been found in the air over WA state?

According to the EPA, yes

I read somewhere that there is always background Uranium.
But, I can't find that right now.

Joseph from the BRAWM team provided this reply on another


So I looked at the activity
Submitted by jmiller on Sat, 2011-04-09 22:19.
So I looked at the activity measurement and I'm just selecting on to demonstrate how you calculate a comparison to the units we're using. So in San Francisco, U-238 was the only detected isotope at 0.000014 pCi/m3.

0.000014/27 puts it in Bq/m3 (27pCi per Bq)
(0.000014/27)/1000 puts it in Bq/L (1000 L per cubic meter)

This give 5.19E-10 Bq/L. Normal uranium (all isotopes added together so even more conservative) in water due to uranium dissolving in rocks and soil is on the order of E-04 (tenths of mBq) to E-01 (tenth of a Bq) while in Finland it's been recorded to be as high at 150 Bq/L. So assuming we have the smallest amount of uranium measured pre-Japan, the contribution we're seeing if all this rain water was drinking water (WHICH IT'S NOT) is incredibly tiny.

I know this Uranium business is new information so feel free to discuss/challenge and we can get a dialog going. Please excuse any delays, it is the weekend and we're all sleep deprived :)

Joseph [BRAWM Team Member]

So freaking out over the

So freaking out over the uranium found by the EPA in late March is unfounded? I've been dealing with people freaking out and telling me the ONLY way for Uranium to get here is from Plutonium decomposition and that if there is Uranium then there is plutonium. I assumed there was a good reason why the amount in the air was higher right after (ie the 15th) than a few days later. I'm so glad I found this website. Even if I'm still going to get cancer from the fall out I'm sure it won't kill me before the stroke that fear mongers are trying to cause me.

Burning coal throws up

Burning coal throws up literally tons of Uranium into the atmosphere every year.

This is likely the source of

This is likely the source of the uranium...China perhaps.

Funny story...My grandfather

Funny story...My grandfather used to work at the Uranium mines in the Rocky Mt's town of URAVAN. He passed away twenty five years later from lung cancer. I've been freaking out over fukushima releases in the last month and completely forgot I'm the mutant progeny of a uranium miner. Derp. It's a dirty world we live in folks. Mr. Chivers, or anyone else on the staff with a free moment, I would be interested in hearing your take on the sort of exposure my grandfather faced and how that compares and relates to the fears being voiced on this forum, including my own. If anyone is curious just look up Uranium Mining in Colorado...Uravan came equipped with a schoolhouse, housing, and giant pools of sulphuric acid littered all around town...I'm learning alot about "where I come from" the last couple of days. I have a feeling if our Government deemed it safe for him to work in a uranium mine UNPROTECTED they may not have the most solid grasp on what is and isn't safe after all...

EPA 3/15 in Anaheim a baseline

I think you can look at the EPA data for 3/15 in Anaheim as the
baseline. I don't think any fallout had reached Ca. by that date.
Although, susequent measurements showed up as "ND".


And converting the EPA number to Bq/L units that the BRAWM team uses,
it comes to 1.63E-9 Bq/L. Which is lower than any measurement they
have made for any isotope. Don't know if that means it's "safe" or



Radiation Exposure

On the question of radiation safet Dr.Brian Moench's article, " There is no "safe" exposure to radiation", indicates that radiation at any level is not safe.



we swim in it every day. Even from our fancy granite
counter tops.

"we swim in it every day.

"we swim in it every day. Even from our fancy granite
counter tops."

Doesn't make it safe, good for you, or even OK. Could explain growing cancer rates though. How much of that granite counter top do you ingest daily? Do you mix it with your children's milk? Cut the games.

Growing cancer rates portrayed as lowering cancer rates...

That's the problem --- growing cancer rates, continued Fukushima leaks, the sixty-year melt-down cover-up at the Santa Susanna test facility, etc. --- ALL of these downplayed, blacked-out, or counteracted with disinformation by our own government and the corporate-owned mass media. We don't trust these sources because there is a constant, DOCUMENTED HISTORY of dishonesty and outright deceit. And people --GOOD, DECENT, INNOCENT, HONEST people have died because of it.

With that kind of history, people SHOULD be cautious and seeking honest answers.

Mixing concerns

Just because someone is able to look at data and determine risk
does not mean they have bought into everything the governments or
corporations say or are comfortable/happy with the events in Japan.
But, the reality is that we are "swimming in it every day". And I
think most would be shocked to find out what is already in our
children's milk, air, water, food, sandbox etc. Like the average
tap water in the US contains 2 pCi/L of uranium. The EPA has a
recommended limit of <4 pCi/L of radon concentration in homes.
That's 33% higher than the EPA limit for I-131 in drinking water.
And the list goes on for the various isotopes that are already in
our environment. Both natural and man made. Once you come to grips
with that reality, the task at hand is then trying to determine what
the additional risk is of this situation and trying to take action
based on that info.

Distrust of the govt or corporations, or ones belief of what the
future of nuclear power should be, is a completely different subject.
And a person believing that the risk posed by the current situation
is low does NOT mean a person is ok with the situation or in bed
with the govt or industry.

Isn't inhaling radon

Isn't inhaling radon particles internal exposure?

You'd be interested to know

You'd be interested to know that Uranium that decays (possibly in the countertop) produces Radon as a daughter product. After smoking, Radon is the number 2 cause of lung cancer. Radon's daughter products include Polonium and Lead-210, both radioactive. In fact a good percentage of household dust is made up of Radon daughter products. You breathe it every day.

Don't believe me, wipe a dusty surface near a leaky window and test it with a Geiger counter. I get 100 CPM, roughly 97 uRem/hr on my meter. So, yes, you would expect some exposure from Uranium in countertops.

Consistently 100 cpm on window sills?

OMG, where do you live? Arizona test sites? Here in Florida we get 10-12 CPM. We have to put the geiger counter against a brick wall to get even 15 CPM.

Hey FL, ya might want to

Hey FL, ya might want to check out the data: http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2011/04/12/realtime-epa-radnet-japan-nu...
And I see this link doesn't note March and April. I have family in FL and have been tracking closely since this all started. I noticed you guys had more radiation than Southern CA.
It's all about the jet stream.

Wow, the government shills

Wow, the government shills are really out in force here!

"You have always been eating radiation, it's normal."

Please educate yourself before resorting to insults

If you are in denial about radition being a part of every day life, then there's no foundation for a productive discussion. If you understand the fact that radiation is part of everyday life, then maybe we can have a discussion about how concerned we should be and if the government is telling the truth or not.

I scanned mine with a

I scanned mine with a geigercounter before purchase for that very reason.

No more MOX, please. New

No more MOX, please.
New Doubts About Turning Plutonium Into a Fuel

THE VISION A plant being built near Aiken, S.C., would turn weapons-grade plutonium into a fuel called mox.
Published: April 10, 2011 The New York Times

On a tract of government land along the Savannah River in South Carolina, an army of workers is building one of the nation’s most ambitious nuclear enterprises in decades: a plant that aims to safeguard at least 43 tons of weapons-grade plutonium by mixing it into fuel for commercial power reactors.

THE PROBLEMS The cost has soared to nearly $5 billion, and the structure — as big as eight football fields — is half finished.
The project grew out of talks with the Russians to shrink nuclear arsenals after the cold war. The plant at the Savannah River Site, once devoted to making plutonium for weapons, would now turn America’s lethal surplus to peaceful ends. Blended with uranium, the usual reactor fuel, the plutonium would be transformed into a new fuel called mixed oxide, or mox.

“We are literally turning swords into plowshares,” one of the project’s biggest boosters, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said at a hearing on Capitol Hill last week.

But 11 years after the government awarded a construction contract, the cost of the project has soared to nearly $5 billion. The vast concrete and steel structure is a half-finished hulk, and the government has yet to find a single customer, despite offers of lucrative subsidies.

Now, the nuclear crisis in Japan has intensified a long-running conflict over the project’s rationale.

One of the stricken Japanese reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant uses the mox fuel. And while there has been no evidence of dangerous radiation from plutonium in Japan, the situation there is volatile, and nuclear experts worry that a widespread release of radioactive material could increase cancer deaths.

Against that backdrop, the South Carolina project has been thrown on the defensive, with would-be buyers distancing themselves and critics questioning its health risks and its ability to keep the plutonium out of terrorists’ hands.

The most likely customer, the Tennessee Valley Authority, has been in discussions with the federal Department of Energy about using mox to replace a third of the regular uranium fuel in several reactors — a far greater concentration than at the stricken Japanese reactor, Fukushima Daiichi’s Unit No. 3, where 6 percent of the core is made out of mox. But the T.V.A. now says it will delay any decision until officials can see how the mox performed at Fukushima Daiichi, including how hot the fuel became and how badly it was damaged.

“We are studying the ongoing events in Japan very closely,” said Ray Golden, a spokesman for the utility.

At the same time, opponents of the South Carolina project scored a regulatory victory this month when a federal atomic licensing panel, citing “significant public safety and national security issues,” ordered new hearings on the plans for tracking and safeguarding the plutonium used at the plant.

Obama administration officials say that mox is safe, and they remain confident that the project will attract customers once it is further along and can guarantee a steady fuel supply. Anne Harrington, who oversees nuclear nonproliferation programs for the Energy Department, noted that six countries besides Japan had licensed the routine use of mox fuel. She accused critics of “an opportunistic attempt” to score political points by seizing on Japan’s crisis.

“Mox is nothing new,” she said.

Even so, the critics say there is an increasing likelihood that the South Carolina project will fail to go forward and will become what a leading opponent, Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, calls a “plant to nowhere.” That would leave the United States without a clear path for the disposal of its surplus plutonium.

A cheaper alternative, encasing it in glass, was canceled in 2002 by President George W. Bush’s administration. The energy secretary at the time, Spencer Abraham, is now the non-executive chairman of the American arm of Areva, a French company that is the world’s largest mox producer and is primarily responsible for building the South Carolina plant.

After the cold war, the United States and Russia were left with stockpiles of plutonium, and the fear was that one or the other would reverse course and use the plutonium to make new weapons, or that, in what the National Academies of Science called a “clear and present danger,” thieves could make off with it.

Plutonium is easy to handle because the radiation it gives off is persistent but relatively weak. The type used in weapons, plutonium 239, has a half-life of 24,000 years and emits alpha rays. They make the plutonium feel warm to the touch but are so feeble that skin easily stops the radiation. If trapped inside the body, though, alpha rays can cause cancer.

At the same time, plutonium is preferred over uranium as nuclear bomb fuel because much less is needed to make a blast of equal size. And while it is difficult to work with, it does not need to undergo the complex process of purification required for uranium.

The 43 tons of surplus plutonium in the American stockpile could fuel up to 10,000 nuclear weapons and even more “dirty bombs” — ordinary explosives that spew radioactive debris. Alternatively, they could fuel 43 large reactors for about a year.

After studying a range of options, the Clinton administration decided to build a mox fuel plant to dispose of a portion of the plutonium, awarding a contract to a consortium now called Shaw Areva Mox Services.

The rest of the plutonium was to be mixed with highly radioactive nuclear waste and immobilized in glass or ceramic blocks, making it difficult and dangerous for any thief to extract. The government judged the mox route to be more expensive, but the dual-track approach was seen as insurance should either fail.

That strategy also helped persuade Jim Hodges, the Democratic governor of South Carolina from 1999 to 2003, to sign off on plutonium shipments to the Savannah River Site. When the Bush administration canceled the glass-block disposal program, Mr. Hodges was furious.