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”

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.

artic loop of iodine 129 aug 16 2017.png


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”.


Assessing Fukushima-derived radiocesium in migratory Pacific predators

??? Good news if true…



The 2011 release of Fukushima-derived radionuclides into the Pacific Ocean made migratory sharks, teleosts, and marine mammals a source of speculation and anxiety regarding radiocesium (134+137Cs) contamination, despite a lack of actual radiocesium measurements for these taxa.

We measured radiocesium in a diverse suite of large predators from the North Pacific Ocean and report no detectable (i.e., ≥ 0.1 Bq kg-1 dry wt) of Fukushima-derived 134Cs in all samples, except in one olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) with trace levels (0.1 Bq kg-1).

Levels of 137Cs varied within and across taxa, but were generally consistent with pre-Fukushima levels and were lower than naturally-occurring 40K by one to two orders of magnitude.

Predator size had a weaker effect on 137Cs and 40K levels than tissue lipid content.

Predator stable isotope values (δ13C and δ15N) were used to infer recent migration patterns, and showed that predators in the central, eastern, and western Pacific should not be assumed to accumulate detectable levels of radiocesium a priori.

Non-detection of 134Cs and low levels of 137Cs in diverse marine megafauna far from Fukushima confirms negligible increases in radiocesium, with levels comparable to those prior to the release from Fukushima.

Reported levels can inform recently developed models of cesium transport and bioaccumulation in marine species.

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


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…)


Listen Here:

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


China hopes to jointly counter Fukushima’s radioactive pollution with S. Korea




BEIJING, June 3 (Yonhap) — China’s foreign ministry said Friday it hopes to strengthen communication with relevant countries such as South Korea to resolve pollution from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“Japan should take effective measures with responsibility for its people, neighboring countries and the international community,” China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a regular press briefing.

Earlier on Friday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that an official from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant’s operator, admitted to concealing the harmfulness of the disaster. It also cited a U.S. expert who said “80 percent of the leaked radioactive substances have flown into the sea.”

Hua urged Japan to beef up its capability to deal with the disaster and provide relevant information to international society in a “timely, comprehensive and accurate” manner.

China has been warning its citizens and organizations to be cautious in visiting Fukushima since the disaster took place, and the suggestion is still valid, Hua said.

A devastating earthquake struck off Japan’s northeast coast in March 2011, triggering a tsunami that led to the reactor meltdown and radiation leak.


Autoradiograph: radioactivity after the 3/11 quake

By Masamichi Kagaya (Photographer) and Dr. Satoshi Mori (University of Tokyo) 

As a consequence of the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, the cores of the first to third nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant underwent meltdowns as external power for the cooling pumps was lost. As a result, a huge amount of radioactive particles was released into the air. These particles were carried by southeasterly winds to Iitate Village, Fukushima City, and Nakadori, a central region of Fukushima Prefecture, leaving high levels of radioactive contamination in their wake. The particles were further carried along multiple routes creating radioactively contaminated areas in regions from Ibaraki to Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, as well as in Northern Kanto and the Tohoku Region (Northeastern Japan).

Whether we are in Tokyo, Fukushima, or even in front of the damaged nuclear reactor buildings, we are exposed to radiation that we are unaware of. It is too small to see, it cannot be heard and it is odorless. Therefore, despite living in a region contaminated with radioactive particles, to this day, we are not consciously aware of the radiation. NaI (TI) scintillation detectors and germanium semiconductor detectors are used to measure the amount of radioactive contamination in soil, food, and water in units called Becquerels (Bq). Radioactivity is further measured in Sieverts (Sv), which is an index of the effects of radioactive levels in the air, doses of exposure, and so on. Nevertheless, from such values, it is impossible to know how the radioactive particles are distributed or where they are concentrating in our cities, lakes, forests, and in living creatures. These values do not enable us to “see” the radioactivity. Thus, radioactive contamination has to be perceived visibly, something that can be done with the cooperation of Satoshi Mori, Professor emeritus at Tokyo University. Professor Mori is using autoradiography to make radioactive contamination visible.

Today, dozens of radiographic images of plants created by Professor emeritus Mori since 2011 are on display together with radiographic images of everyday items and animals. This collection of radiographic images (autoradiographs) is the first in history to be created for objects exposed to radiation resulting from a nuclear accident. I hope that visitors will come away with a sense of the extent of contamination in all regions subject to the fallout — not just those in and around Fukushima. At the same time, I hope that this exhibition will remind visitors of the large region extending from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant to Namie Town, Iitate Village and the dense forests of the Abukuma Mountain Area that, to this day, remain restricted areas. The radiation affects animals that continue to live in these areas and be exposed to heavy radiation, as well as the 140,000 people that had to evacuate and who lost personal assets (homes, property, work, interpersonal relationships). These people are in addition to the victims who directly breathed in the radioactive materials, subjecting them to internal exposure — victims that include anyone from the residents near the plant to people in Tokyo and the Kanto Region.

Although what can be done is limited, new progress has made it possible to record the otherwise invisible radioactivity and make it visible. The history of needless nuclear accidents occurring in the United States, the Soviet Union (Russia) and Japan over the last several decades may still potentially be repeated elsewhere in the world, but hopefully future generations will see the cycle be broken. Through exhibitions and other means of disseminating knowledge about radioactivity, future generations may learn to leave behind dependence on nuclear power and be free from the dangers of nuclear accidents and nuclear waste.

Radioactive contamination level jumped over 57 times outside of underground wall


January 13, 2015

Cs-134/137 and all β nuclides (including Sr-90) density showed the rapid increase in groundwater, according to Tepco.

The sample was taken in the seaside of Reactor 2. Sampling date was 1/12/2015.

Compared to the previous measurement of 1/8/2015, Cs-134/137 density rose up by 57 times, all β nuclides density also rose up by 57 times.

This is the highest reading measured from this boring. Tepco hasn’t identified the reason. This boring is located outside of the underground wall to stop contaminated groundwater flowing to the sea.

TEPCO groundwater plume mapping assumed the contaminated water released from the unit 1 turbine building would eventually reach this area.

TEPCO said within recent weeks that the portions of this trench that were not yet filled in with concrete were seeing contaminated water re-fill the trench as they pumped it out and that both ends of the trench seem to rise and fall with each other.

The concreting of the unit 2 trench that had been full of highly contaminated water since 2011 has caused leaking contaminated water to divert over to this area.

Theoretically, it is natural to assume the high level of contamination is flowing to the sea without anything to stop.

Source: Fukushima Diary