Abandoned places: Pripyat Hospital, Chernobyl

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Trees have started to grow in front of the hospital’s entrance. The radiation has damaged their sense of orientation, leaving them to grow crooked in all directions. [Timm Suess]

Inside Chernobyl’s Abandoned Hospital – Timm Suess – The Atlantic: “A once-modern facility after 27 years of nuclear contamination and neglect Around midnight on March 26, 1986, the engineers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant initiated a test of reactor number 4. The test went wrong and resulted in one of the most devastating nuclear accidents in history, leaving the area a contaminated exclusion zone. In the middle of that zone lies the city of Pripyat, home to 50,000 citizens, it was a modern symbol of progress until the accident. It had schools, public sporting grounds, shops, a cultural center, and a large hospital. Consisting of an inpatient building, three clinics, and a lab building, it had a capacity of 400 patients. Many of them were treated there for radiation sickness until the evacuation of the city.”

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Unwashed mattresses next to an autoclave. [Timm Suess]

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One of the long hospital corridors. The higher the floor, the more desolate the state. [Timm Suess]

See more photos… 

Watch video via Chernobyl Journal (video #5) – in and around the Pripyat hospital area. Read the journal on http://timmsuess.com/chernobyl-journal:

Los Alamos Labs: air quality being monitored, some 10,000 experiments sit idle

Among the scientific work performed at Los Alamos Lab are things such as extending the life of 1960s era B61 nuclear bombs, the NSA’s Cielo supercomputer, “renewable energy and particle physics, solar flares, forensics on terrorist attacks, and studying the AIDS virus at the molecular level to help scientists develop strategies for developing vaccines” and Los Alamos also did early work on the human genome project.

Officials said the Los Alamos National Laboratory has some 10,000 experiments running at the same time that have been put on hold.

“We have a range of projects, some of them have shorter time deliverable, some of them are years to decades,” McMillan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Among the work delayed are experiments run on two supercomputers, the Roadrunner and Cielo. The National Security Administration’s three national laboratories — Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore — all share computing time on Cielo, which is among the world’s fastest computers.

[...] Fire officials late Wednesday said they’re confident that the fire won’t spread onto the lab and the town of Los Alamos. Firefighters burned out brush to create a 10-mile long burned out area between the fire and the lab.

“It’s looking good right now,” Los Alamos County Fire Chief Doug Tucker said. The fire grew to 125 square miles, with most of the growth happening north of the lab. Firefighters were bracing for wind gusts of up to 45 miles forecast for Thursday.

On Monday, about an acre of lab property burned, raising concerns about possible contamination from material stored or buried on lab grounds. As a precaution, the government sent a plane equipped with radiation monitors over the lab. Samples analyzed so far from some of the lab’s monitors show nothing abnormal in the smoke.

Lab authorities described the monitoring from the air as a precaution, and they, along with outside experts on nuclear engineering, expressed confidence that the blaze would not scatter radioactive material, as some in surrounding communities feared.

A firefighter walks through heavy smoke from the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos, N.M., Wednesday, June 29, 2011. As crews fight to keep the wildfire from reaching the country’s premier nuclear-weapons laboratory and the surrounding community, scientists are busy sampling the air for chemicals and radiological materials. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Flooding at Fort Calhoun: Water surrounds reactor building, spend fuel pool building

Flood tests not over for nuke plant:

Because of the collapsed water-filled dam, river water surrounds the main reactor building, mechanical building, spent fuel pool building and other structures.

Barriers at entrances to the buildings are keeping that water from entering, Hanson said. A “minor” amount of water did seep into the plant’s turbine building, he said, and was pumped out.

The buildings themselves and associated pumps and electrical equipment are designed to handle flooding up to 1,014 feet above sea level. The river is a little over 1,006 feet now and is forecast to reach a crest of 1,008 feet, barring extraordinary rains.

What if the river keeps rising? Read more…

Meanwhile, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko offered support for both utilities after visiting the plants. He said both Fort Calhoun and Cooper remain safe.

See all related posts for Fort Calhoun & Cooper Nuclear Station »

Report: 48 of 65 U.S. nuclear stations leaked radioactive tritium

“The public health and safety impact of this is next to zero. This is a public confidence issue.” — Nuclear Energy Institute’s Tony Pietrangelo

“Radiation is actually good for you.” — Nuclear physicist and part-time brain surgeon Ann Coulter

Report: 75% of U.S. nukes sites leaked radioactive tritium

The Associated Press found that 48 of the 65 power stations in the U.S. had reported leaking tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) records blamed many of the leaks on corroded buried piping. At 37 of the sites, contamination to groundwater exceeded the federal drinking water standard.

While no public water supplies are known to have been contaminated, the leaks did reach the wells of homes in Illinois and Minnesota. In New Jersey, tritium was found in a discharge canal feeding Barnegat Bay… In 2007, cesium-137 was found along with tritium at the Fort Calhoun plant near Omaha, Nebraska. The Indian Point nuclear site near New York City was found to have leaked Strontium-90 two years before that.

And the problem is growing — as the AP notes:

The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.

List of Power Reactor Units

U.S. Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors - Years of Operation

I’m glad to see that Colorado doesn’t have a nuclear reactor.

Fukushima tragedy expands

Japan’s nuclear crisis: radiation may be leaking from No. 3 reactor core

Irradiated nuke worker in hospitalIrradiated nuke worker in hospital: A laborer who had been working to restore power and cooling functions at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant walks to a special vehicle for radioactive decontamination, while being shielded with a blue sheet to conceal his identity, outside of the Fukushima Medical University Hospital in Fukushima city on March 25, 2011. Three workers were exposed to high-level radiation the previous day while laying cable at the troubled plant. (Kyodo)

Kyoto reports high level radiation may be leaking from #3 reactor core:

High-level radiation detected Thursday in water at the No. 3 reactor’s turbine building at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant appears to have originated from the reactor core, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Friday.

[...] A day after three workers were exposed Thursday to water containing radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level at the turbine building connected to the No. 3 reactor building, highly radioactive water was found also at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors’ turbine buildings.


That water likely indicates “some sort of leakage” from the reactor core, signaling a possible break of the containment vessel that houses the core.

The containment vessel is designed to prevent radioactive material from escaping into the atmosphere, even if other parts of the reactor are damaged. A rupture in the containment vessel could pose problems for workers who are trying to prevent that, depending on its severity.

NY Times:

Japanese officials on Friday began quietly encouraging people to evacuate a larger swath of territory around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a sign that they hold little hope that the crippled facility will soon be brought under control.

[...] The No. 3 unit, the only one of the six reactors at the site that uses the mox fuel, was damaged by a hydrogen explosion on March 14. Workers have been seeking to keep it cool by spraying it with seawater along with a more recent effort to restart the reactor’s cooling system.A broken vessel is not the only possible explanation, he said. The water might have leaked from another part of the facility.

The news Friday and the discovery this week of a radioactive isotope in the water supplies of Tokyo and neighboring prefectures has punctured the mood of optimism with which the week began, leaving a sense that the battle to fix the damaged plant will be a long one.

Two TEPCO employees hospitalized

Two workers at Japan plant taken to hospital:

Three workers at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant were exposed to high radiation as they sought to restore power to reactor three, with two hospitalised, the nuclear safety agency said Thursday.

“Three workers who were working to lay cables in the basement of the turbine building were exposed to radiation between 170 to 180 milli-sieverts,” a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said.

“Two were sent to hospital after they found themselves in a puddle of water. Although they wore protective clothing, the contaminated water seeped in and their legs were exposed to radiation.”

An exposure of 100 milli-sieverts per year is considered the lowest level at which any increase in cancer risk is evident.

Wow. Good thing that direct contact in the water was only 170 to 180 millisieverts! Right?

And seriously, what happened to the third worker who wasn’t hospitalized: dead or new super powers?

UPDATE 4:00 PM MST: Radiation 10,000 times normal levels has been measured in the water where three Fukushima plant workers were irradiated while laying power cable underground at the No. 3 reactor’s turbine building, Kyodo News is reporting. Via CNN

Sounds like that’s a bit more than 170 – 180 millisieverts, doesn’t it?

Japan Monday

Spraying the reactor with concrete recalls measures taken to contain the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986.

Japan quake live blog: Victims prepared but overwhelmed, expert says
Smoke rises from a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. (Photos: CNN)


[5:37a.m. Monday ET, 6:37 p.m. Monday Tokyo] Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said officials did not know what was burning Monday in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reactor No. 3.  He said the smoke was coming from the building’s southeastern side, where the reactor’s spent nuclear fuel pool is located.


Electricity has been restored to three reactors at the Japanese nuclear plant wrecked by fire and explosions after the 11 March quake and tsunami.

However the cooling systems are not yet operating, and the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, says the situation remains “very serious”.

Some workers at the stricken facility were temporarily evacuated after smoke was seen rising from reactor No 3.


White smoke was billowing from a building that houses the No. 2 reactor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station Monday afternoon, while grayish smoke that was seen rising from the building of the No. 3 reactor stopped shortly after 6 p.m., the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.


The recent monster quake that hit northeastern Japan altered the earth’s surface, geologists say, loading stress onto a different segment of the fault line much closer to Tokyo.

Experts are quick to point out that this doesn’t mean a powerful earthquake is necessarily about to strike the Japanese capital. Even if it did, the structure of the tectonic plates and fault lines around the city makes it unlikely that Tokyo would be hit by a quake anywhere near the intensity of the 9.0-magnitude one that struck March 11, said Roger Musson of the British Geological Survey.

@Reuters: FLASH: Japan govt says expects to establish power supply to no.4 nuclear reactor “very soon”

@BreakingNews: Police estimate death toll from Japan’s quake, tsunami will exceed 18,000 – AP

The first particles from the Fukushima reactor have reached U.S. soil

But there is NO health threat. The levels are way too low to be threatening.

The first particles from the Fukushima reactor have reached U.S. soil, though scientists say that they are “about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening.” Scientists also say that if you start popping potassium iodide already and/or are hoarding pills that you need to stop before you hurt yourself. Seven people have already made themselves sick, two severely.

The first particles from the Fukushima reactor have reached U.S. soil, though scientists say that they are “about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening.”

Scientists also say that if you start popping potassium iodide already and/or are hoarding pills that you need to stop before you hurt yourself. Seven people have already made themselves sick, two severely.


Let’s send Ann Coulter to help clean up the Fukushima reactors

The Fox News viewer always gets the best information, don’t they? Coulter wrote a column and went on Bill O’Reilly to discuss how radiation is “good” for you.

Let me be one of the first to say: prove it.

That or like Jabba-the-Rush, Coulter (or her benefactors) must own stock in nuclear power plants.

Japan Thursday

BBC: 1351: Andrew Dickinson, in Hiroshima, writes: “Today a shopkeeper who overcharged me for some fruit cycled to the bus station on the off chance of finding me to pay me back. Japanese spirit and kindness remains strong.”

BBC: Some US military personnel in Japan have received potassium iodide tablets to help counter any radiation exposure and the US has urged American citizens living within 80km (50 miles) of the Fukushima complex to leave; Japan’s own exclusion zone is only 20km.

NPR: Update at 7:20 a.m. ET: Crews Focus On Danger From Reactor Cooling Ponds: NPR’s Chris Joyce tells Morning Edition workers are trying to refill the ponds that hold old nuclear rods at Fukushima Daiishi Reactors Three and Four. The water is gone. Chris says the exposed rods are dangerous and create a lot of heat, so they must be submerged again. Four helicopter drops and two attempts with water cannon have failed to fill the pools.

CNN: [9:19 a.m. ET Thursday, 10:19 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] Aftershocks of magnitudes 5.6 and 5.9 shook the east coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu on Thursday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

CNN: [9:12 a.m. ET Thursday, 10:12 p.m. Thursday in Tokyo] A worker from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been blogging about those workers now battling to prevent a meltdown at the facility, according to The Straits Times in Singapore. On its website, The Straits Times says it has translated the worker’s blog. The nuclear plant staff “continue to work even at the peril of their own lives,” the worker writes.

Guardian.uk: 9.59am (6.59pm JST): My colleague, Ian Sample, has passed me the International Atomic Energy Association’s round-up of reported injuries at the Fukushima complex, released earlier this morning. It says that two people are missing while 23 suffered injuries. More than 20 people are believed to have been exposed to radiation:

2 TEPCO employees have minor injuries
2 subcontractor employees are injured, one person suffered broken legs and one person whose condition is unknown was transported to the hospital
2 people are missing
2 people were ‘suddenly taken ill’
2 TEPCO employees were transported to hospital during the time of donning respiratory protection in the control centre
4 people (2 TEPCO employees, 2 subcontractor employees) sustained minor injuries due to the explosion at unit 1 on 11 March and were transported to the hospital
11 people (4 TEPCO employees, 3 subcontractor employees and 4 Japanese civil defense workers) were injured due to the explosion at unit 3 on 14 March

Radiological Contamination
17 people (9 TEPCO employees, 8 subcontractor employees) suffered from deposition of radioactive material to their faces, but were not taken to the hospital because of low levels of exposure
One worker suffered from significant exposure during ‘vent work,’ and was transported to an offsite center
2 policemen who were exposed to radiation were decontaminated
Firemen who were exposed to radiation are under investigation

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh is telling his brain dead Dittoheads that the media is exaggerating the nuclear disaster in Japan. Makes you wonder just how many shares in nuclear power plants must be in Rush’s stock portfolio. But the RWNJs will tell you that NPR is the problem…

And now it’s snowing in Japan

Members of the Japan Self Defense force walk through the snow-covered  ruins of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, days after the area was devastated  by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami March 16, 2011.
Members of the Japan Self Defense force walk through the snow-covered ruins of Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, days after the area was devastated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami March 16, 2011. (via producermatthew)

NPR / AFTERSHOCKS: There have been nine earthquakes of 5.0 magnitude or above today in the same region struck by last Friday’s massive, 9.0 temblor, the U.S. Geological Survey reports. The hardest quake today registered 6.0.

BBC 1507/ BEWARE THE IODINE PEDDLERS: The Associated Press reports that the nuclear scare is proving to be a sales bonanza for traders in iodine, face masks and radiation meters. This is particularly the case in Russia, where people have painful memories of the false securities given in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. “It is a pity that certain businessmen are trying to profit on the situation,” Olga Shekhovtseva, an Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman in Russia’s Primorsky region, told AP.

BBC /1446 THE MISSING: The mayor of Ishinomaki, in the devastated Miyagi prefecture, has told Kyodo the number of missing in that town alone is likely to reach 10,000.

CNN / THE DISPLACED: [9:15 a.m. ET Wednesday, 10:15 p.m. in Tokyo] The governments in Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures have asked the Japan Prefabricated Construction Suppliers & Manufacturers Association to build almost 33,000 homes to temporarily house those displaced by the quake and tsunami, Kyodo News service reports. At least 430,000 people are staying in shelters across eight prefectures, according to Kyodo.

CNN / THE RADIATION IN THE WATER: [6:48 a.m. ET Wednesday, 7:48 p.m. in Tokyo] Tests revealed traces of radiation in tap water in Fukushima city, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the Daiichi nuclear plant, the local government said Wednesday. The Fukushima prefecture’s nuclear department said amounts of radioactive cesium and iodine that are not harmful to the human body were found in water samples taken at 8 a.m. Wednesday (7 p.m. ET Tuesday). Government officials said the traces found are connected with the nuclear plant. A measurement of the tap water supply taken later in the day found no traces of iodine or cesium.


BBC | 1057: Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says that what we are witnessing in Japan is an “apocalypse”. He says the international community must do everything it can to help Japan and adds it may shift Europe’s approach to nuclear power: “After what happened in Japan it cannot be business as usual. This has consequences not only for Germany’s energy policy but it will also have consequences for the international community’s stance as well as the debate in Europe, and that’s how we will now approach it.”

200 miles from the Fukushima power plant: At approximately 0700 local (Japan) time, 15 March 2011, sensitive instrumentation on USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) pier-side in Yokosuka, detected low levels of radioactivity from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant. While there is no danger to the public, Commander, Naval Forces Japan is recommending limited precautionary measures for personnel on Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, including…

Japanese Fuel-Cooling Pools Pose Nuclear Threat: Even as workers race to prevent the radioactive cores of the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan from melting down, concerns are growing that nearby pools holding spent fuel rods could pose an even greater danger… The pools are a worry at the stricken reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant because at least two of the three have lost their roofs in explosions, exposing the spent fuel pools to the atmosphere. …If any of the spent fuel rods in the pools did indeed catch fire, nuclear experts say, the high heat would loft the radiation in clouds that would spread the radioactivity.

French nuclear agency rates Japan accident 5 or 6: France’s ASN nuclear safety authority said on Monday the nuclear accident in Japan could be classed as level 5 or 6 on the international scale of 1 to 7, on a par with the 1979 U.S. Three Mile Island meltdown.

producermatthew: A baby is tested for radiation poisoning at a shelter in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan on March 14, 2011. (Reuters)

Japan’s nuclear reactors in trouble: Onagawa, Fukushima I & Fukushima II


[10:39 a.m. ET, 11:39 p.m. Tokyo] A state of emergency has been declared at a nuclear power plant in Onagawa, Japan, where excessive radiation levels have been recorded following Friday’s massive earthquake, the United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency said Sunday. Authorities have told the agency that the three reactor units at the Onagawa plant “are under control.” — CNN

1456: Radiation levels at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi prefecture are about 700 times higher than normal but are still low, the Tohoku Electric Power Company has said, according to the Maichi Shinbum website. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency dismissed the possibility that the Onagawa plant was to blame, saying it was likely caused by the radioactive substances that scattered when a hydrogen explosion hit the troubled Fukushima plant on Saturday. — BBC

Fukushima I & II:

Japanese authorities now list six reactors at two different nuclear power plants – Fukushima I and nearby Fukushima II – in a state of emergency following the massive earthquake and Tsunami waves that hit Japan Friday. A total of 11 of the nation’s 54 reactors shut down following the quake, knocking out about 30 percent of Japan’s power. — CSM

Japanese government officials have said a partial nuclear meltdown caused by a massive earthquake is likely underway in the second of three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear complex. — WaPo

A man holds his baby as they are scanned for levels of radiation in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Sunday, March 13. Friday's quake and tsunami damaged two nuclear reactors at a power plant in the prefecture, and at least one of them appeared to be going through a partial meltdown, raising fears of a radiation leak. Mark Baker/AP

Officials in protective gear check for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant in Koriyama, March 13, 2011

Workers find more radioactivity at Hanford site

YAKIMA, Wash. — Workers cleaning up the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site [Hanford nuclear reservation] have discovered an area of soil so radioactive it exceeds lethal limits tenfold, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Wednesday with its cleanup contractor.

[...] Workers found this soil contamination under a building that was used from 1966 to 1996 to explore methods to treat radioactive waste. The workers discovered a cracked steel liner under a drain in a radioactive hot cell, where the research years ago could be conducted safely, then used remote equipment to conduct soil samples under the building to determine if there may have been a leak.

The samples showed radiation levels thousands of times greater than allowable levels for exposure over one hour, and 10 times the lethal limit.

[...] The building in question sits about a quarter-mile from the Columbia River, which is the largest waterway in the Pacific Northwest and creates the northern and eastern boundaries of the Hanford site.

Read more: Workers find more radioactivity at Hanford site
View Map

Hanford Vitrification Plant (Google Earth) – click for more:

In southeastern Washington state, Bechtel is designing, constructing, and commissioning the world’s largest radioactive-waste treatment plant for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). When complete, the Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant will process and stabilize 53 million gallons (200 million liters) of radioactive and chemical waste currently stored at the Hanford Site. Link to Bechtel site…