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Iodine-129 waste used to track ocean currents for 15,000 km after discharge from nuclear plants

In connection to the article I wrote last August 3, 2017 “Radioactive Contamination of Oceans: Sellafield, La Hague, Fukushima” https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/radioactive-contamination-of-oceans-sellafield-la-hague-fukushima/

This study is about radioactive 129I travelling the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, a 15,000 km journey, legally released since 20 years from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. Of course as usual, in complete disregard of recent studies about the dangerosity of low dose,They emphasise that the radioactivity levels found in the North Atlantic are extremely low and not considered dangerous.

This study still is letting us envisage the travel of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant numerous radioactive contaminants which have been dispersed since March 2011, which still are being dispersed and will be additionally dispersed into the Pacific Ocean.

Radioactive 129I has travelled the equivalent of a third of the way round the globe, since being released from nuclear fuel reprocessing plants in the UK and France. The iodine’s 15,000 km journey begins in the nuclear plants at Sellafield and La Hague and continues via the Arctic Ocean and then southward via the Grand Banks towards Bermuda, where it is found at very low concentrations about 20 years later. This tracer has been used to provide the most complete up-to-date, high-accuracy mapping of the oceanic currents that transport CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to the abyssal depths of the deep North Atlantic Ocean. These results are being presented at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Paris.

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Radioactive contaminants have been legally released for more than half a century from the nuclear reprocessing plants at Sellafield (UK) and La Hague (France). Scientists have recently begun to use the radioactive 129iodine (129I) as a way of tracking the movement of ocean currents. They emphasise that the radioactivity levels found in the North Atlantic are extremely low and not considered dangerous.

“What we have found is that by tracing radioactive iodine released into the seas off the UK and France we have been able to confirm how the deep ocean currents flow in the North Atlantic. This is the first study to show precise and continuous tracking of Atlantic water flowing northward into the Arctic Ocean off Norway, circulating around the arctic basins and returning to the Nordic seas in what we call the “Arctic loop”, and then flowing southward down the continental slope of North America to Bermuda at depths below 3000 m” said lead researcher Dr John N. Smith (Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada).

The research is part of the international GEOTRACES project, which aims to use geochemical markers to follow ocean currents, and so provide precise estimates of transit times and mixing rates in the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. So far the 129I has been measured as far south as Puerto Rico, but the researchers assume that it will continue to flow southward into the South Atlantic and eventually spread throughout the global ocean.

Dr Smith continued, “These currents have previously been studied using dissolved CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) – the molecules which used to be used in fridges until banned in 1989. However, CFCs undergo ocean-atmosphere exchange which means that surface water is continually replenished with CFCs during the arctic leg of the journey, whereas the 129I plume retains the initial imprint of its input history over a long period of years. Further, 129I is relatively easy to detect at extremely low levels using accelerator mass spectrometry methods which gives us a large measurement advantage in terms of the signal to noise ratio. Since we know exactly where the 129I comes from and when it entered the ocean, for the first time we can be absolutely sure that detecting an atom in a particular place is as a specific result of the currents”.

“In many ways this is a bit like the old ‘stick in a stream’ game we used to play as kids – what people call ‘Pooh sticks’ in England – where you would drop a buoyant object in the water and observe where it comes out. Of course, it would be much better if these markers were not in the ocean at all, but they are, and we can use them to do some important environmental science”.

Commenting, Dr Núria Casacuberta Arola (ETH, Zurich) said:

“The work performed by John Smith and colleagues in recent years has greatly contributed to the understanding of water circulation, especially in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. The advantage of using 129I as a transient tracer in oceanography is the long half-life (15.7 My) of this isotope compared to the circulation times, and the fact that it is largely soluble in seawater. Now, major efforts are also devoted to find other artificial radionuclides with similar sources and behaviour than 129I (e.g. 236U, 237Np) so that the more tools we have, the better we will understand the ocean circulation. Recent advances in mass spectrometry (ICP-MS and AMS) allow today for very low detection limits so that we can measure very low concentrations of these isotopes in deep ocean waters”.
https://phys.org/news/2017-08-129i-track-ocean-currents-km.html#jCp

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August 18, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , | Leave a comment

Radioactive Contamination of Oceans: Sellafield, La Hague, Fukushima

Frankly speaking, I find it amazing that the people and the media talk so much about Fukushima Daiichi having leaked contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean since March 2011, and about Tepco possible future release of the tritiated water accumulated on site into the Pacific Ocean.

Whereas nobody ever talks about how much contaminated water the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing site on England’s west coast has been releasing into the Irish Sea (then from there flowing into the Atlantic Ocean), and how much contaminated water the La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing site on France west coast has been releasing into the English Channel (then from there flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.

If you think that Fukushima Daiichi is contaminating the Pacific Ocean since 2011, why are aren’t you aware that Sellafield and La Hague have been contaminating the Atlantic Ocean for decades already?

Both sites having large pipes underwater going far from the land into the sea, both releasing their contaminated water at sea now for decades, with the gracious authorization of the IAEA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellafield
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Hague_site

It might be because few people actually know about it, or because it is easier to point the finger to somebody else far away than at home. Of course it also serves the political and economic interests of both England and France to make their people mindful of what’s happening over there in Fukushima while keeping them blind about what’s happening in their own backyards, their media editors knowing very well what issues are to be avoided as too sensitive to be handled.

Of course I am not saying that the radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean by Fukushima Daiichi should not be published, not looked into, not adressed.

What I am saying is that the radioactive contamination of the Atlantic by Sellafield and La Hague in parallel should be also published, looked into, as much adressed, not swept under the carpet, and the people well informed about it, especially as this has been going on for decades authorized by the IAEA.

 

A few related articles about Sellafield :

There is more radioactive plutonium in the sediments off the Sellafield plant in the Irish Sea than at the underwater Russian Novaya Zemlya nuclear weapons test site, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental group yesterday released further data arising from its ongoing survey of the Irish Sea. It has been measuring radioactive contamination in sediments and seaweed along British and Irish coasts for several weeks. Last week it visited Dundalk bay, retrieving seaweed as part of this activity. The data released yesterday related to the plutonium and caesium content of sediment taken adjacent to a Sellafield waste-discharge pipe two kilometres off the Cumbrian coast.”

June 1988 : Irish Sea radioactivity `worse than at nuclear site’ https://www.irishtimes.com/news/irish-sea-radioactivity-worse-than-at-nuclear-site-1.161463

 

“A record number of radioactive hotspots have been found contaminating public beaches near the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria, according to a report by the site’s operator.

As many as 383 radioactive particles and stones were detected and removed from seven beaches in 2010-11, bringing the total retrieved since 2006 to 1,233. Although Sellafield insists that the health risks for beach users are “very low”, there are concerns that some potentially dangerous particles may remain undetected and that contamination keeps being found.”

July 2012 : Record number of radioactive particles found on beaches near Sellafield https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/04/radioactive-particles-beaches-sellafield

 

“Greenpeace has warned that the dumping of the reprocessing plant’s liquid waste has made the Irish Sea among the most contaminated waters in the world, even though Ireland itself produces no nuclear energy. Irish fishermen have been angered by catches of unsaleable mutated fish and by findings that they have been exposed to low-level radiation.”

Jan 2014 : Irish free to sue British nuclear operators over contamination http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/irish-free-to-sue-british-nuclear-operators-over-contamination-9039178.html

 

“Radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria is contaminating shellfish hundreds of kilometres away on the west coast of Scotland, according to a new scientific study.

Scottish researchers discovered traces of radioactive carbon discharged from Sellafield in the shells of mussels, cockles and winkles as far north as Port Appin in Argyll, 160 miles from the notorious nuclear plant.”

December 2015 : Scottish shellfish are contaminated by radioactive waste from Sellafield http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14157272.Scottish_shellfish_are_contaminated_by_radioactive_waste_from_Sellafield/

 

A few related articles about La Hague :

According to the ACRO, in general, “there is more tritium in the Channel than in the Pacific waters near the Fukushima power station”. (They certainly should know as they regualarly monitor and analyze the contamination near La Hague, and they have repeatedly traveled to Fukushima to cooperate with the Iwaki Mother’s Radiation Lab to measure contamination there). http://www.lemonde.fr/planete/article/2013/03/28/concentration-anormale-en-tritium-relevee-dans-la-mer-a-proximite-de-la-hague_3149613_3244.html#UGUVieKghcxVdjVv.99

The tritium rejected at La Hague is 1,000 times higher than what is allowed at the nearby Flamanville nuclear plant.” https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/lsd-la-serie-documentaire/lombre-des-centrales-nucleaires-44-des-poubelles-radioactives

 

Conclusion from my friend Pierre Fetet (Fukushima’s blog) :

“There are several differences between La Hague and Fukushima (for Sellafield, I do not know enough):

At La Hague, for example, there is an authorization to reject 50,000 billion Bq of Tritium per day.

While in Fukushima, it is not known at all how much is continuously discharged into the sea in terms of radioactivity, except that it is 300 tons per day of contaminated water and that is not authorized by anyone.

The big difference is that in France that crime is allowed but confidential and that in Fukushima that crime is suffered and mediatized.

But you’re right Hervé, people are not aware and remain uninformed of what is really going on.”

 

For information: Releases by La Hague

20637872_10214212853938087_5602193404803544621_n.jpgAnnual Radionuclide Releases Report in terabecquerel (1 terabecquerel = 1 000 000 000 000 becquerels )

 

Special credits to Pierre Fetet and Javale Gola

August 3, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nuclear Hotseat #271: How Radiation in Oceans Contaminates Our Food Supply – Tim Deere-Jones

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This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • Tim Deere-Jones is an independent marine pollution consultant and a specialist in the behavior and fate of marine pollutants in ocean, coastal and estuarine environments. He explains how radiation in the ocean from Fukushima and the UK’s Sellafield nuclear facility have impacted food safety at tremendous distances, as far away as the US West Coast.  A jaw-dropping eye-opening report.  This is an Encore presentation originally presented on Nuclear Hotseat #225 from October 13, 2015.

Numnutz of the Week:

The only thing “super” about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe-Baby showing up dressed as Super Mario at the Rio Olympics is his gall at continuing to lie about the nuclear contamination awaiting anyone who dares to attend the 2020 Tokyo Radioactive NOlympics.  (And that ball he’s holding is pure projection, if not delusion…)

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Listen Here:

Nuclear Hotseat #271: How Radiation in Oceans Contaminates Our Food Supply – Tim Deere-Jones

 

August 31, 2016 Posted by | radiation | , , , , | Leave a comment