Fukushima: “Astounding” levels of radiation measured in U.S. from Fukushima — Around 500,000 times our normal levels…

ENENews

Harry Miley, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington, Mar 7, 2014 (emphasis added): “We’re surrounded by souvenirs of scientific achievement here in the National Security Building Showcase lobby. Each one of these items tells a story of scientists working quietly on projects of societal impact. This yellow thing you see behind me is an aerosol sample… It was taken here a few days after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan, and contains radioactivity that allowed us to determine the nature [and] magnitude of the release, but most importantly that there will be no human health impacts in North America… The Fukushima nuclear disaster… was not something we expected. We normally work on things of societal impact invisibly… But when the disaster occurred, the things we were doing suddenly became of national importance. You could hardly imagine anything more important. In fact, it was a matter of life and death.” >> Watch the video here

A colleague of Miley’s at PNNL, Ted Bowyer, discussed the air samples at a CTBTO meeting:

  • 0:30 in – “I agree with everything that previous speakers said, especially the aspect that more work is necessary… We have a lot of work to do… We have a lot of questions that we need to answer. There are a lot of people working on it. I also really thought it was very valuable to have this email exchange with… interested parties about events as they were unfolding in Japan. The accident as everyone knows was a terrible tragedy.”
  • 3:30 in – Slide: Evidence of radionuclide release reached the Japanese IMS station within 2-3 days; First evidence of the plume hitting the U.S. came to PNNL’s equipment about 1 day later
  • 4:30 in – “This is very amazing to me, having been working in the radioactive xenon monitoring field for about 17 years now. This was astounding to me… You can see background levels around 0.1 mBq/m3… Note the peak concentration we saw was in the range of 45,000 mBq/m3 — so that is 450,000 times our background level. For me that’s astounding. We never have ever seen anything even close to that. So the concentrations went up and up and up every day, and so that was quite amazing to see this 7,000 kilometers away from the event… I only show some of the data here, but it actually persisted for weeks at very measurable levels, and filled the entire northern hemisphere and mixed into the southern hemisphere.”
  • 12:00 in – “Xenon isotopic ratios appear to generally agree with calculations. However, there’s some uncertainty… We have a lot of work to do to try to understand whether there are calibration issues, whether there were physics here that we had not accounted for, etc. We do know that there are very high count rates at these detectors, which is similar to what you’d expect in an atmospheric detonation. On the other hand, the part I didn’t tell you was the amount of xenon we saw was consistent with a one megaton atmospheric detonation — we obviously wouldn’t expect to see that high. But it was a huge amount.”
  • Watch Bowyer’s presentation here

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  1. US Gov’t Expert: Large marine animals likely sensed danger of Fukushima plume and fled, “Not going to wait until they start to die off” — Explains unprecedented concentrations of whales and other sea life clustering off West Coast? (VIDEO) March 2, 2014
  2. Canadian scientists detect “significant” concentrations of radioactive material off West Coast, levels double in months since last test — Marine Chemist: “Much greater concern” over Fukushima releases that will be hitting shores of US & Canada; Lack of data “really disturbing” (AUDIO) November 10, 2014
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“Huge, unprecedented die-off like we’ve never seen”

KQED Science, Apr 5, 2015 (emphasis added): About thirty miles out from the Golden Gate, the federally protected Farallones are breeding grounds visited by hundreds of thousands of seabirds – many of which use the islands as a  winter way station — but not this year. Gerry McChesney, manager of the site for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, says that’s a bad sign not just for the Farallon Islands but also for wildlife more broadly along California’s coast. There was also hardship for breeding marine mammals. Dozens of pregnant sea lions proved too weak to carry their pups to term “That’s such a bizarre thing,” McChesney says. “We were seeing multiple aborted fetuses every day,” 94 in total – or nearly half the number of sea lions born there in 2014. Nor was the warm winter kind to elephant seal pups. Russ Bradley, Farallon program manager for Point Blue Conservation Science, says elephant seal mothers, trying to cool off amid the unusual heat, led their pups up to a cliff that, while breezy, proved perilous – “and actually had a fair amount of pups fall into this sea channel, because they’re pups and they’re clumsy and they got too close to the edge.” “It is pretty brutal for the biologists out here that had to watch it,” McChesney says. “It was pretty tough.” Among the conspicuously absent birds was a type called Cassin’s Auklet, which feeds on krill. All along the Pacific coast, McChesney says, these birds have been suffering “a huge, unprecedented die-off like we’ve never seen” for want of food. That’s also bad news for other species that eat krill, he says, from salmon to blue whales.

US Fish & Wildlife Service, Apr 1, 2015: Over the past four months, seals and sea lions are having difficulty reproducing, local seabirds have had low colony attendance… Observations of disrupted breeding activities include: California sea lions aborting pups due to poor body condition of the mothers. Since January 9th, 94 aborted sea lion fetuses have been recorded on the islands, well in advance of their June due date. Ninety-four is almost half the total number of sea lions born on the island in 2014. High elephant seal pup mortality due to warmer air temperaturesPup survival was low this year… Many pups died when overheating mothers led them to a cliff edge in attempts to get cool; pups then fell to their deaths.  Low attendance of breeding seabirds – Farallon nesting seabirds usually visit the islands during winter, but this year winter attendance was unusually low. In fact, the Cassin’s Auklet… has been largely absent from the islands in the last few months… Since auklets feed mainly on krill, their activity and nesting success are good indicators of the availability of this food resource, which is very important for many marine predators including whales and salmon… “These unusual observations highlight the importance of monitoring our coastal wildlife,” says [Gerry McChesney, manager of the site for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service]. “They are significant indicators of ocean health.”

KGO, Apr 2, 2015: Researchers view the Farallon Islands as a barometer for the health of the overall ocean and this year in particular has been tough. Hundreds of sea lion pups have beached themselves, but elephant seals are having trouble too… — Doug Cordell, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: “Some of them have died when the mothers lead them to a cliffs edge attempting to get cool and the pups then fell to their deaths. We’re seeing unusual occurrences with the bird populations. Very low attendance of the breeding sea birds… Any of these things in isolation you might say, ‘Hmm, that’s interesting.’”

Feb. 22, 2015 winter pelagic trip, Monterey Bay: Shearwaters were extremely low in numbers, either because of the warm water, or because of the declining numbers which I have been talking about for the past several years, or because of both reasons.

Full KGO broadcast here

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  2. 10,000 baby sea lions dead on one California island — Experts: “It’s getting crazy… This is a crisis… Never seen anything like it… Very difficult to see so much death” — TV: “Numbers skyrocketing at alarming rates” — “Woman is burying the rotting mammals” after digging graves at beach (VIDEOS) March 16, 2015
  3. TV: Huge increase in dead and sick sea mammals on California coast — Unprecedented numbers, annual record broken in 7 months — Starving, drooling, brain damaged, suffering seizures — Sea lions ‘mysteriously’ vanishing on other side of Pacific — Experts: We don’t know what’s happening (VIDEO) August 3, 2014
  4. “Alarming Numbers”: Over 15,000 baby sea lions may have died off California coast — “Marine biologists warn it could deplete an entire generation” — “Heralding the demise of something else beneath the waves”? (VIDEO) February 15, 2015
  5. Radio: Mysterious disease killing seals in Atlantic Ocean — Fukushima fallout testing underway by gov’t scientists (AUDIO) September 1, 2012
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