Friday, October 28, 2011

Fukushima Station Discharged More Radiation Than Estimated - The wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan may have released more than twice the amount of radiation estimated by the Japanese government, a study by European and U.S.-based scientists said. Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima station, which was wrecked in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, may have emitted 35,800 terabecquerels of radioactive cesium 137 at the height of the disaster. Japan’s nuclear regulator in June said 15,000 terabecquerels of cesium 137 was discharged. The amount is about 42 percent of that released at Chernobyl in 1986, the worst civil atomic disaster in history. The plant north of Tokyo may have also started releasing radioactive elements before the tsunami arrived, about 45 minutes after the magnitude-9 quake struck, contradicting government assessments. “This early onset of emissions is interesting and may indicate some structural damage to the reactor units during the earthquake."
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency remains convinced the quake didn’t cause significant damage to the plant. NISA and Tepco blame the tsunami, which swamped backup generators, causing a loss of cooling and the meltdowns of the three reactors operating at the time of the disaster. Explosions at the plant sent radiation into the atmosphere.
Cesium 137 is a source of concern for public health because the radioactive isotope has a half-life of 30 years. A becquerel represents one radioactive decay per second and involves the release of atomic energy, which can damage human cells and DNA. A terabecquerel is one million times one million becquerels. Almost a fifth of the cesium 137 fallout fell on Japan, while the remainder was carried by prevailing winds over the Pacific Ocean. Areas around the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, which is still emitting radioactive materials, may be uninhabitable for at least two decades, according to a government estimate in August. Last week the amount of radiation being released had fallen to about 8 million times less than at the height of the disaster.
The levels of cesium 137 emissions “suddenly dropped” after Tepco started spraying water on the spent fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor. Reactor 4 was idle before the quake and the fuel assemblies in the core had been placed in the spent fuel pool of the unit. “This indicates that emissions were not only coming from the damaged reactor cores, but also from the spent fuel pool of unit 4." Fukushima also discharged 16.7 million terabecquerels of xenon 133, “ the largest radioactive noble gas release in history not associated with nuclear bomb testing." The government estimated in June 11 million terabecquerels of the radioactive particle was released from the plant. Xenon 133 has a half life of 5.2 days and is relatively harmless

**A crown is merely a hat that lets the rain in.**
Frederick The Great

This morning -

Yesterday -
10/27/11 -

TURKEY - Snow has blanketed eastern Turkey, complicating rescue efforts, while emergency crews managed to save a teenager more than 100 hours after the devastating earthquake. He was pulled out from rubble in town of Ercis, which took the full brunt of the earthquake. His rescue came after emergency workers pulled a 19-year-old from the rubble overnight, although prospects of finding more people alive were fading fast, as the death toll passed 500. Some of the rescue teams have started to leave the region.
After the government acknowledged failings in the initial rescue efforts, help from abroad was beginning to arrive, including an aid plane from Israel and Armenia. But in a sign of the disillusionment with the help they had received so far, some families who had been staying in tents began returning to their homes despite warnings they were still at risk of collapse from aftershocks. Many families have been forced to sleep in overcrowded tents or even out in the open around fires as the temperatures dropped to below freezing, while some locals complained that aid was not being distributed fairly. A tent city has arisen around the government-built apartment blocks near Ercis, although the buildings survived the earthquake with minor damage. Others in Ercis town centre are still seeking shelter.
In its latest damage assessment bulletin, the prime minister's emergency unit said that 534 people were now known to have died after the 7.2 magnitude quake struck. A further 2300 had been injured in the disaster. A total of 185 people had been pulled alive from the wreckage. The prosecutor's office in Ercis meanwhile began an investigation into the construction companies that put up collapsed buildings. In Van province 3713 buildings, home to 5250 families, had been destroyed. A separate 5.4 magnitude quake overnight struck the southeastern town of Yuksekova, near the Iraqi border, more than 200 kilometres southeast of Van, although no damage was reported and experts said it involved a different faultline.


Hudson Volcano forces evacuations in Southern Chile - 119 people have now been evacuated from the areas surrounding Volcán Hudson. 13 more people are remaining in their homes and two refuse to leave. The government hoped to evacuate all those in the 45 kilometer protection radius at 2 p.m on Thursday. The flyover conducted that morning revealed that the volcano contains three vents in the form of an equilateral triangle. One of them contains ash and the rest contain vapor. The new data does not reveal if the activity is increasing or decreasing. A second flyover installed a sensor to help get more concrete evidence about the activity.
The Hudson Volcano’s seismic activity placed the cities of Aysén, Río Ibáñez and Chile Chico on red alert Wednesday, Oct. 26, and forced evacuations in southern Chile. The government is currently working to contact 10 workers in the areas near Lago Caro. They reported new volcanic activity in the area Thursday morning and declared that the next 12 hours would be key to determining the extent of the emergency. The 10 workers in the area have yet to be found. Carabineros, and the Chilean armed forces of the Fuerza Area, or Chilean air force are currently searching for them. The Fuerza Area is also taking photos of the volcano in order to assess the situation better. “During the day we will continue to monitor the situation…It’s important to have a photographic register of the crater to determine the course of the next few hours."
ONEMI (Chile’s National Emergency Office) increased the volcanic alert status from Level 3 to Level 5 Wednesday, Oct. 26, in preparation for an imminent major eruption within hours or days. The announcement came after the Hudson volcano erupted blasting steam one kilometer in the air. The eruption’s seismic activity triggered an avalanche in the area. There have been no reports of injuries or damage due to this event.
On June 4, the Puyehue volcano erupted in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain, shooting ash several miles high,which traveled around the world causing wide spread chaos with airline routes. Several airlines were forced to cancel flights for weeks and blamed the eruption for a major drop in profits. Chile’s chain of about 2,000 volcanoes or “ring of fire” is the world’s second largest after Indonesia. Some 50 to 60 are on record as having erupted, and 500 are potentially active. Chile’s Chaiten volcano erupted spectacularly in 2008 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing molten rock and a vast cloud of ash that reached the stratosphere. The ash also swelled a nearby river and ravaged a nearby town of the same name. The ash cloud from Chaiten coated towns in Argentina and was visible from space. Chile’s Llaima volcano, one of South America’s most active, erupted in 2008 and 2009.

Eruptions Could Create New Island in the Canaries - It hasn't yet reached the surface, but residents of the Canary Islands have taken to the internet to suggest names for a potential new islet. Meanwhile Spanish newspapers are taking a different approach to the subject, debating who would take responsibility for the new territory. The underwater volcano off the coast of El Hierro, the southern-most Canary Island, has been spewing magma into the sea for three weeks in the first volcanic eruptions on the Canary Islands for 40 years. The lava is already towering 100 meters above the seabed -- another 150 meters and it will protrude above the Atlantic Ocean, creating a new island.
Whether the eruption near the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa will ever actually result in new land remains uncertain. But it's clear that the magma reservoir under El Hierro is simmering unchecked, constantly pouring out magma and causing the ground to shake several times a day. Since July, there have been more than 10,000 earthquakes -- mostly imperceptible -- on El Hierro. Volcanologists expect more eruptions, but they don't know where the lava will be released. Even small eruptions on land are possible. The volcanic activity will "probably last for some time."
The effects of the underwater volcanic events are clearly visible: powerful eddies result from explosions in the deep. A sea of ash bigger than El Hierro itself is floating off the island, with gas bubbling up and dead fish scattered in the water. Politicians and scientists are offering daily advice on possible risks to the local population, but their understanding of events under the seabed is far from complete. Scientists have stepped up their monitoring; there is even a submarine taking pictures of the ocean floor, showing the new undersea mountain, already 700 meters (2,300 feet) wide. A 150-meter (490-foot) crater can also be seen. There is also fissure three kilometers (two miles) long that is clearly gushing magma.
To the south of El Hierro, the earthquakes suggest persistent outbursts of lava. They show a pattern that is typical for flowing liquid, a so-called harmonic volcanic tremor. Presumably, there are constant small eruptions on the ocean floor. But the lava usually clogs the fissure quickly after such eruptions, forcing further magma to seek new channels -- exactly what seems to be happening now.
In recent days, however, some unsettling measurements have been recorded: The shaking has moved to the north. Because most of the earthquakes in that area have, up until now, occurred at depths of more than ten kilometers, an eruption is not expected in the area, the local authorities have said. The magma seems to be contained in the depths thus far. If the lava was being spewed in shallower water, there would be a danger of large steam explosions. But there are no fears of large eruptions on land. The only risk is in the immediate vicinity of the eruption site, where there may be lava flows and rocks flung into the air. Still, many of the nearly 600 residents of the fishing village of La Restinga on the southern tip of the island have now returned home after being evacuated two weeks ago.
The risk of large, explosive eruptions in the Canary Islands, however, "should not be neglected. The frequency of their occurrence cannot currently be estimated. But even the most momentous outbursts of the past few centuries remained localised. La Palma has experienced more than a hundred eruptions in the past 20,000 years; most recently in 1971 when a flow of lava ran into the sea. El Hierro is the youngest of the Canary Islands, appearing above the surface of the sea just over a million years ago. As such, it is likely its magma reservoir may still be very large; geologists suspect it is around ten kilometers below the seabed -- most of the tremors have occurred at this depth. The last confirmed eruption was in 550 BC, although there are also disputable reports of an event in 1793. In the eastern Canaries, on the other hand, supplies of lava have largely run out; they have already been far removed from the magma source. Although there has not been an eruption on Fuerteventura in the past 20,000 years, the volcano is still considered active -- unlike La Gomera, which seems to have run out of fresh magma. The island is expected to be spared from any future volcanic eruptions. It pays a price for this, however -- without any new lava, La Gomera will be washed away by rain and sea, and eventually, over the course of millions of years, will gradually sink back into the ocean.
Only fresh magma secures the existence of the Canaries; it was volcanic eruptions which allowed the islands to grow above the water in the first place. The sea is already at work trying to reclaim the land. Coastal roads have repeatedly had to be moved inland after being battered by floods. But the recent underwater lava eruptions could be creating new land near El Hierro, and residents are waiting eagerly to see if it will grow beyond the surface.

In the Atlantic -
Tropical storm Rina was located about about 20 mi (30 km) W of Cozumel, Mexico. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the east and north coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula from Punta Allen to San Felipe. Rina is expected to produce rainfall amounts of 3 to 6 inches over the eastern Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel through Friday with isolated maximum amounts to 10 inches.


Feds make slow progress on U.S. flood levee inventory - The levee network has "significant" problems and received an overall grade of "D minus" from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2009. More than six years after Hurricane Katrina's rampage, authorities have taken only halting steps toward identifying weaknesses in a nationwide patchwork of levees intended to protect millions of Americans' lives and property during potentially catastrophic floods. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, accused of building substandard levees and floodwalls that failed when Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast in 2005, has spent $56 million since then developing the initial phase of a national levee inventory as required by Congress. The Corps on Thursday was releasing a database with information about nearly 14,000 miles of levees under its jurisdiction.
But the inventory doesn't include what is believed to be more than 100,000 additional miles of levees not covered by the Corps' safety program. Some are little more than mounds of earth piled up more than a century ago to protect farm fields. Others extend for miles and are made of concrete and steel, with sophisticated pump and drainage systems. They shield homes, businesses and infrastructure such as highways and power plants. The National Committee on Levee Safety, established after the Katrina disaster to evaluate the system and recommend improvements, issued a report in 2009 calling for the Corps to catalog and inspect every levee so deficiencies could be fixed. But Corps officials say Congress has not provided enough authority or money to add non-federal levees to the database, a massive undertaking that would take years. The inventory presently includes only about 10 percent of the likely total.
"The reality is, we don't know how many levees are out there. I think we've done a great job putting forward a state-of-the-art tool. It's a first step. It will be much more powerful once we can get all the data in there."
For each levee system, the database will include its location, design and rating following one or more safety inspections. Inspection ratings from nearly 700 of the roughly 2,000 levee systems under the Corps' jurisdiction have been added to the database thus far. Of those, 77 percent had ratings of "minimally acceptable," meaning they have "minor deficiencies" that make the levees less reliable but are not expected to seriously impair their performance. An additional 11.6 percent were rated "unacceptable," or likely to fail during a flood, while 11.3 percent were graded as "acceptable," or without deficiencies. Experts say the government is moving too slowly to complete the inventory. "We need to be really candid with the American people. This is yet another class of infrastructure that is aging and posing risks and we're going to have to do something about it." One group estimated that $50 billion worth of improvements was needed over five years. "So today hundreds of levees, whose integrity is in question, are in place in front of communities and properties with little realistic hope of funding for inspection, repair or upgrade."
Concern about the levees dates to the 1920s and 1930s, when killer floods on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers led Congress to order construction of more levees. Many were designed for the biggest flood likely to strike a particular area within 500 years or even 1,000 years. But starting in the late 1960s, federal policies have inadvertently encouraged the building of levees according to a less protective standard. One required financially strapped local governments to help cover levee building and maintenance costs. Relatively low death tolls from major floods in recent decades also fed complacency that ended with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Together, they killed more than 1,800 people and caused $200 billion in damages, spurring calls for a nationwide levee inventory and upgrades. The Corps has made good progress on the levee inventory but acknowledged "we're definitely behind where everybody had hoped we'd be."


Salmonella-tainted pine nuts sicken 42 in six states.

-Nike All-American Sandwich and Nike Super Poor Boy Sandwich Recalled by Landshire, Inc Because the products may contain Listeria Monocytogenes.
-American Egg Products of Blackshear, Georgia, is recalling five pound cartons of frozen egg product because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
-The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Health are investigating illnesses in at least six people in Minnesota that are connected with a recall of organic shell eggs due to contamination with Salmonella Enteritidis. The contaminated eggs were traced back to Larry Schultz Organic Farm of Owatonna.
-YAMAYA USA, INC of Torrance, CA is recalling Masago (Capelin Roe), because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.