Safecast Moves Permanent Radiation Monitoring Stations into Fukushima Prefecture
The Journal of Radiological Protection has published a peer reviewed Scientific Article by Safecast members on the success of Citizen Science in providing radiation data during and after the Fukushima Daiichi reactor melt downs.
Safecast is also expanding its project by deploying permanent monitoring stations in Fukushima Prefecture.
In Washington DC, during the recent Nuclear Security Summit, Safecast collaborated with NRDC and others to promote the role of citizen science in responding to emergencies and potentially in prevention. More on that here. NRDC did a great job at organizing events around the Summit.
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Source: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization
Just when you think progress is being made, things can go backwards real fast. Fifty years of work to advance nuclear arms control seems set back to the stone age recently – but the stones being thrown around are getting bigger and more dangerous,
Technology and sensor data will be playing a big role in determining what happened this morning. Arms control programs advanced during the thaw between the US and Russia led to confirmation that sensor data can distinguish between conventional and nuclear detonations underground. Seismic data is now being analyzed for familiar signatures that can help characterize the event. Independent nonprofit groups such as NRDC also keep a watchful eye on these situations to promote understanding and pathways to arms control. Other work by governments, IAEA, NGOs and the scientific community created radiation monitoring technology that can measure the the ratio of key isotopes of radioactive Xenon and Krypton gases in the atmosphere to further characterize the event. Most radiation from the event will likely be contained in the earth, but enough Xenon will eventually escape that sensitive equipment will be able to detect it. The CTBO, Comprehensive Test Ban Organization, is charged with monitoring these types of events, and many governments also have independent programs. It will take days or weeks for all the data to come in. Here are a few links that seem interesting at this moment in time:
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Arms Control Association Special Report
The New York Times
The South China Morning Post
The Asahi Shimbun
Yes, Geiger Counters equipped with pancake type detectors can detect the radioactive noble gases Xenon and Krypton better than most detectors, but they cannot differentiate between the isotopes and also would have difficulty detecting subtle levels that would occur at a large distance from the underground site due to dispersion.
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All the safety books tell us that alpha radiation is 20 times more damaging than gamma and x radiation. Radiation detectors that don’t have an alpha capability are much less expensive. Is it worth taking a risk to save money? Honestly in many cases an instrument without alpha/beta sensitivity can be adequate for specific tasks such as for x-ray and gamma protection in radiography etc. The instrument will be relatively boring to use, but can afford the needed protection. Sometimes there are surprises, and if you don’t have the capability it can be a serious problem. In this case an alpha emitting radionuclide was not detected by geiger counters without alpha capability. What happened may never be known but the serious effects of alpha radiation taken internally is clearly illustrated. Geiger counters equipped with alpha sensitive mica windows can make a big difference for health and safety in many situations, and are worth the extra cost. All IMI – International Medcom Inc. – hand held geiger counters are so equipped and available from reputable distributors across the globe. The “two inch pancake” sensors are the most sensitive, and built into the IMI Inspector V2 and Onyx NX10 instruments. The less expensive but robust Radalert100X and RAD100 instruments have smaller mica windows, but still detect alpha and beta radiation.
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