Fukushima: Official detects radiation spike on California beach, now at 500% normal levels… Official ‘befuddled’…

with comments here

Half Moon Bay Review, Jan. 3, 2014 at 8:21p ET: [San Mateo] County health officials first learned of the radiation levels last week, and they sent their own inspector on Dec. 28 to Pacifica […] the county inspector measured the beach to have a radiation level of about 100 micro-REM per hour [1 microsievert per hour], or about five times the normal amount. […] Although the radiation levels were clearly higher than is typical, [San Mateo County environmental health director Dean Peterson] emphasized that it was still not unsafe for humans. […] Peterson admitted he was “befuddled” as to why radiation levels were higher than normal, but he was skeptical that the Fukushima meltdown could be the cause. He noted that many innocuous items could spike the radiation levels in an area, including red-painted disposable eating utensils. […] Peterson forwarded the matter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Public Health […]

Dean Peterson, San Mateo County environmental health director: “It’s not something that we feel is an immediate public health concern […] We’re not even close to the point of saying that any of this is from Fukushima. […] I honestly think the end result of this is that it’s just higher levels of background radiation.”

The Half Moon Bay Review article provides details on the YouTube video that spurred local officials into action: An amateur video of a Geiger counter showing high radiation levels at a Coastside beach has drawn the attention of local, state and federal public health officials. […] the short video has galvanized public concerns that radioactive material could be landing on the local coastline from Japan as a result of the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. […] First posted last week on YouTube, the seven-minute video shows the meter of a Geiger counter as an off-camera man measures different spots on the beach south of Pillar Point Harbor. The gadget’s alarm begins ringing as its radiation reading ratchets up to about 150 counts per minute, or roughly five times the typical amount found in the environment. […] In a blog entry, the unidentified poster of the video noted that he has been monitoring local beaches for two years before noticing a sudden rise in radiation levels in recent days. […] In the following days other amateurs with Geiger counters began posting similar videos online. […] “We can’t comment on anybody’s media creation. We really have no way of knowing right now whether it’s valid or not,” said [state Public Health] spokeswoman Wendy Hopkins.


Don’t mean to downplay Fukushima, which is a major disaster. But there was an article recently (may have been in the Chronicle) talking about a large radioactive waste dump – submerged barrels – out around the Farallones that is apparently now leaking into the ocean and fouling up the local environment. Who knows what’s really going on.

We’re surrounded. By idiots.

On Jan. 2, I went to Little River beach and took readings for an hour with my Geiger counter set to the same CPM and could not get any readings over 30. Those readings were only on infrequent spikes and not consistent. The average over and hour was 15 CPM’s. I’m not sure why the readings would be so different than at Half Moon Bay or Ocean Beach in SF.

Also, please be aware that the Nuclear Emergency Test Center may be a scam…and is definitely a for profit website with little background as to what the Radcon alerts mean or how it is calibrated. Those that attempt to profit and deceive from our collective malady are as sick as those that are hiding critical life saving information.

    Jamie: I take issue with this ‘expose’ of NETC you link to, which I suspect is a Nuke Industry propaganda hit piece. The author of it obviously spent no time on the site to familiarize himself with how it works. And just because it sells stuff does not mean it is corrupt. I was going to become a test site myself to check it out but the software requires PCs and I’m all Mac. It is using volunteers around the country to track radiation which I applaud. What does the ‘expose’ author offer as an alternative? Government and industry assurances that all is well?

    I waited several days after the beach walk Geiger video became available before publishing it along with official response stories…

We might as well get it all out in the open so we can all better understand our collective predicaments.

“From 1946 to 1970, the sea around the Farallon Islands 17 miles outside SF Bay was used as a nuclear dumping site for radioactive waste under the authority of the Atomic Energy Commission at a site known as the Farallon Island Nuclear Waste Dump. Most of the dumping took place before 1960, and by , all dumping of radioactive wastes by the United States was terminated in 1970, after 47,500 55 gallon steel drum containers were dumped in the vicinity, with a total estimated radioactive activity of 14,500 Ci.

44,000 containers were dumped at 37°37′N 123°17′W / 37.617°N 123.283°W / 37.617; -123.283, and another 3,500 at 37°38′N 123°08′W / 37.633°N 123.133°W / 37.633; -123.133.

The primary military agency contributing to the dumping was the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory, in San Francisco, which was charged with decontamination of the ships from the Operation Crossroads nuclear testing in 1946 and carried out additional radiological task throughout the period.[8] The USS Independence, which was irradiated while used as a target at Operation Crossroads, was loaded with radioactive waste from NRDL and other generators, towed to sea and apparently sunk near this site.[9] The exact location of the containers and the potential hazard the containers pose to the environment are unknown.[10] Attempts to remove the barrels would likely produce more of a risk than leaving them undisturbed.[8]
EPA Document on Nuclear Waste Dumping
“99% of all radiated Nuclear Waste dumped at Farallon Islands!”

As part of the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory — until 1969, the U.S. Navy’s largest radiation lab, based in an ominously windowless building that still stands at Hunters Point — the Independence was the site of years of radiologically dirty experiments aimed at finding out what happens when materials, equipment and animals are exposed to radiation. In 1951, the ship was declared too radioactive to decontaminate and was towed out past the Farallon Islands and bombed until it sank.

It lies beneath the waves in odious company: almost 50,000 drums of radioactive waste are scattered on the seafloor just 25 miles out from the Golden Gate. Ten times larger than the City, this is the largest offshore nuclear dump in the United States, yet it’s not clear exactly what is in the drums, or who precisely put them all there. In the 1990s, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey found that the drums are leaking radioactivity into the ocean. Some may have been spilling from the start — sailors involved in dumping operations have reported shooting floating drums with rifles to make them sink — and, as the rest age, they are falling apart.

The U.S. Navy shipped this toxic cargo from the Radiological Defense Laboratory at the Hunters Point shipyard in San Francisco and dropped it in the sea near the Farallon Islands — creating the first and largest offshore nuclear waste dump in the United States. Navy gunners were instructed to shoot holes in the barrels that didn’t sink right away.
In part because of this contamination, the surrounding area already has the highest infant-mortality rate in the state and abnormally high rates of asthma, cancer and other diseases.

Although the Cold War is just a chilling memory, the lingering effects of radiation are going to be with us for a long time to come. Plutonium’s half-life is 24,000 years, and management plans call for it to be secured for ten times that long — nearly 35 times longer than all of recorded history. Nuclear cleanup remains one of the federal government’s largest liabilities, and long-term projected costs exceed by far the price of, among other things, the war in Iraq.

Until the early 1990s, the Concord Naval Air Station was one of the U.S. military’s largest storage depots for nuclear weapons (and the site of what some believe was the world’s first nuclear explosion), so it is no surprise that the place is horribly contaminated. But this fact also makes it the perfect spot to receive nuclear waste from around the world.

Starting with a 1998 shipment of used uranium fuel rods from South Korea and Indonesia, Concord is slated to receive five shipments by 2009. Although this activity is cause for great concern — after all, this mortally dangerous material is floated in under the Golden Gate Bridge and past the homes of millions of people before it reaches Concord
The site of the world’s first private nuclear reactor, Vallecitos is also the location of the largest nuclear-waste pile in the Bay Area. Hundreds of pounds of intensely radioactive waste are stored partly buried in a hillside within miles of hundreds of thousands of people. (Just a few hundred lived there in the 1940s, when the site was selected.) Several times a year, shipments of contaminated equipment or parts from around the world arrive at the facility’s gates after passing thorough the quiet bedroom communities of Alameda County. Indeed, it’s one of the largest destinations of highly radioactive material in the western United States.

Why Marin County has the highest rate of breast cancer in the country.

Albert Krauss (aitengri) January 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

Aside from the outrageous peripheral info (change “outrageous” to “enraging”) about military research idiots dumping radioactive waste, one single (singular?) little tidbit in all that verbiage caught my eye: red painted disposable forks. What the hell is with THAT? Sounds pretty close in here, like, picnic supplies, kids lunches, party implements? Do they mean “red PAINTED” – that’s what the statement was – or red plastic?

Here is another site that involves citizen radiation reporting.
If anyone wishes to participate the site lists the type of Geiger counters they accept.
I use a PRM 8000and cost around $500. Maybe we can ask each of our public service departments to purchase one so that each community can take regular readings to contribute to these monitoring sites since we will be living with the radiation from coming from Japan for decades and lifetimes to come.

do geiger counters measure anything other than radioactive iodine?

Geiger Counters measure radiation, regardless of whether it’s from iodine, strontium, or mama’s cookie mix. Radiation is radiation (well, keeping in mind there’s Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, and some counters only measure 1 or 2 out of the 3 types while others measure all 3.) Bottom line – doesn’t matter what the radiation is from, as long as it gets to the meter (and the meter is set up to read it) it will measure it.