— California’s Wildfires and Nuclear Radiation

In some areas, schools still had young people participating in track meets and other sports, despite the risks from “normal” smoke inhalation.

The Woolsey fire which started at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site and spread further, through a highly radioacitvely contaminated area, created an even more intense exposure for Los Angeles area residents. That smoke lofted and spread local radioactivity over a wide area. to be inhaled and to fall out.

From Akio Matsumura, Finding the Missing Link
August 7, 2018

After the government of Japan announced last year that it would take at least forty years to remove the irradiated cores from three crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima, I shifted my focus to the dangers to marine life and the potential risk to people in North America resulting from the forty-year flow of radioactive wind and contaminated water from Fukushima.

After the government of Japan announced last year that it would take at least forty years to remove the irradiated cores from three crippled nuclear reactors at Fukushima, I shifted my focus to the dangers to marine life and the potential risk to people in North America resulting from the forty-year flow of radioactive wind and contaminated water from Fukushima.

If you ask Japanese volcanic scientists and seismologists about the possibility of the eruption of Mt Fuji and the strong earthquake in Tokyo in forty years, they will say it is almost sure to happen. So, even though major damage to human life, the environment, and the economy is likely to occur, people ignore it because they cannot think that far ahead. That’s just forty years. Meanwhile, radiation remains dangerous for thousands of years. How do we learn to connect these long time frames to our human lifetime?

I am pleased to introduce “California’s Wildfires and Nuclear Radiation,” written by Gregg Lien, an environmental and land use attorney practicing in Lake Tahoe, California. Going forward, I plan to introduce the opinions from observers and experts from many fields about the forty-year accumulation of radiation from Fukushima. I look forward to hearing what their suggestions for what actions we can take now to reduce the burden on future generations.

— Akio

California’s Wildfires and Nuclear Radiation – A Personal Story

Gregg Lien

Gregg Lien is an environmental lawyer in California

When I purchased a commonly available radiation detector right after the Fukushima disaster in 2011 I never would have dreamed how it would impact the way I saw the world. Since then I would periodically test the level of radioactivity around my home here in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Nothing was ever out of the ordinary, and my own readings were generally in the 30 to 50 counts per minute (cpm) range. Perfectly safe, or so I thought.

That all changed this Spring, when by chance I happened to remember that testing on an air filter could show the presence of “hot” particles. Since I happened to own two air cleaners with HEPA air filters, I got out my detector and laid it down on one of the HEPA filters. Immediately the detector went into a wild frenzy of clicking punctuated by the flashing of the red light each time it was bombarded by ionizing radiation. Thinking something had to be wrong, I tried again only to have the same result. I tried again on the other air cleaner and found an even higher result of over 800 cpm.

Since I had at that time been working with Akio for about a year, and had been introduced to several of his nuclear experts by email, I reached out to them asking what could possibly be causing this disturbing result. All agreed this was a high result, and the prime suspect was radon gas. Radon gas is common in this area, and can be threat to health. I promptly obtained test kits for my indoor air and well water, sent them in, and within a week I had the results – – all completely negative. At this point, concerned for the health of my family, I began testing everything I could think of to try to determine the source. Floor tiles, countertops and a few other things registered higher than the ambient level, but I was assured that this wouldn’t contribute more than about 30 cpm to the total.

After about a week or so, I remembered reading that many years after the Chernobyl disaster, people living there who heated their homes with wood, like we do, released radiation into the atmosphere once again in the burning process. We have two woodstoves in our home, one large one in the living room and a smaller one in the master bedroom. Since the fine particulate material of the ash might contaminate my detector, I laid down some sheets of paper towels on the ash below the stove in the bedroom, and switched the detector on. Immediately it registered far higher than ambient levels and beyond. Same in the living room. Same at a neighbor’s house. The source apparently was the fire wood – – mostly cut on my own land. Most of my neighbors heat with wood too, at least as a backup. Wood smoke, as I was well-aware, is composed of extremely small particulates that are easily breathed into the body and absorbed.

The implications of this discovery were disturbing. There were radioactive particles in the air that we were all breathing, apparently in large quantities. These particles had apparently been bio-accumulating in the woods around my home for many years, and were re-suspended when burned.

I immediately began monitoring my indoor air regularly, and took a reading on the HEPA filters whenever I could, generally hourly when I was home. Since the level of radiation was much lower without wood smoke indoors, I decided to put one air cleaner outdoors and leave the other indoors. I got out a fresh legal tablet and started a protocol where I would take a reading on each filter, take a picture of the result on my radiation detector with my smartphone, and write down the results. This quickly showed that there was not a much difference between the readings indoors or outdoors.

What I did not know at this point was if this was a localized problem, or whether it was more widespread. With fire season approaching, I abandoned taking two readings, and focused on carefully taking readings outdoors, recording them, and taking a picture of the sky when smoke or clouds were present. Knowing that a fire event was likely going to happen in the upcoming months, I wanted to be ready to see if smoke from wildfires outdoors would result in similar levels of radioactive particles as I had found indoors.

I never could have suspected that the wildfires in California would be as epic as they have been this year. We live in an area vulnerable to fires, and we take them seriously. We had been evacuated in 2014 as a fire approached to within a half mile of our home driven by strong winds, and were only saved by a massive air attack from a virtual fleet of air tankers lined up dropping water and fire retardant. This left a deep impression on us. My stepson has since become a fireman, and has just returned from a deployment to several fires, and after nursing an injury and getting clearance from his doctor, will be back on the fire lines.

As horrific as this season’s fires have been so far, with all the destruction of homes and loss of lives, what disturbs me most is what I have just recorded in my logs, photos and readings. At the peak of the fires and smoke just a few days ago, the readings were significantly higher – – and not by just a little. I recorded a peak reading of 1,333 cpm on the morning of July 31st, and had multiple readings above 1,000 cpm during that period. And, none of the fires is even close to us this time. The likely source of much of the smoke here is a fire near Yosemite National Park, over a hundred miles away. I suspect heavier concentrations of smoke would yield higher results.

Has the vast bulk of the 40 million population of California just been unknowingly exposed to high concentrations of radioactive particles? What are the constituents of these particles? How hazardous are they? It was recently widely reported that radiation from Fukushima, in the form of Cesium-137, was detected in small quantities in California wines. There can be little doubt that Cesium-137 from Fukushima has also been absorbed by all the vegetation here, and when burned, is re-released.

This situation cries out for serious study. I have no experience or academic training in this field. There may well be alternative explanations. I can see from what I have recorded that there are nuances and variances over the course of the day that probably reflect complex processes. All I know is that what we have been breathing shows indications of being contaminated with radioactive particles. It is strongly implied that this radioactivity has been silently concentrating in the plants around us, and is presumably in the food we eat, and in what we drink as well.

If that is correct, this is a situation far worse than we have ever been told. It is likely a global problem, as the exotic and unnatural particles that never existed on this planet previously until the dawning of the nuclear age have now found their way into the air, the oceans, and every living thing. With California on fire, my hope is for all of us to burn away our own complacency, and reignite our own passion to serve life itself in each moment. We can all do something to help according to our abilities, as Akio has selflessly done for many years using his gifts in bringing together international leaders for important common goals. Time is short, and the problem is measured in lifetimes. And potentially for some of us, shortened lifetimes at that.


Gregg Lien is an environmental and land use attorney practicing at Lake Tahoe in California. He is a former prosecutor, and was a former assistant county counsel specializing in land use issues before moving to Lake Tahoe in 1980. He was a participant in the first Presidential Summit on the Environment, hosted by then President Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore, and has been interviewed over the years in various media, including National Public Radio. He has been a frequent participant in regulatory negotiations and battles over resources in the Sierras. He lives with his wife, Heidi, and whichever of their children needs a place to stay now that the youngest has turned 18. He is fascinated by electronics and has a collection of meters and gadgets for his amateur radio and musical hobbies, some of which are actually useful in practical application – – or so he claims.

http://akiomatsumura.com/?p=2460

Advertisements

— Massive California fire started at radioactive Santa Susana Field Laboratory site, Physicians for Social Responsibility warns of radioactive releases

From Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles
November 12, 2018

See website for more photos

Massive Woolsey Fire Began On Contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory, Close to Site of Partial Meltdown

Electric Substation at SSFL Tripped 2 Minutes Before Fire Reported

For Immediate Release: November 12, 2018
Contact:  Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.orgMelissa Bumstead818-298-3192 or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.netDan Hirsch831-336-8003 or dhirsch1@cruzio.com


The tremendously destructive Woolsey Fire has been widely reported as beginning “near” the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL or Rocketdyne), but it appears that the fire began on the Rocketdyne property itself.  Cal Fire identifies the fire location as E Street and Alfa Road, a location that is in fact on SSFL. It was recently reported that the “Chatsworth electric substation” experienced a disturbance 2 minutes before the fire was reported, but that substation is in fact on SSFL, near that location.  A photograph posted on Twitter from KCAL9’s Stu Mundel shows the fire starting Thursday afternoon near the same location, which is only about 1,000 yards away from the site of the 1959 partial nuclear meltdown of the Sodium Reactor Experiment (SRE) reactor.

A report filed with the California Public Utilities Commission by Southern California. Edison states that the “Chatsworth substation” suffered an outage at 2:22 pm Thursday, two minutes before the Woolsey fire is reported to have begun.  The Chatsworth substation is located “within the larger Boeing Rocketdyne Santa Susana complex,” according to a CPUC document (see bottom of page C-15 or page 17 of the pdf.)  The electrical substation (marked with a pin in the photo above and a circle in the photos below, and enlarged in the last photo) is a few hundred yards to the west of where the fire is shown in the Thursday aerial photo as starting, and a few hundred yards to the east of the SRE complex, where the reactor suffered its accident. The substation had been built in part to provide electricity from the reactor, which was the first reactor to produce commercial electricity for the commercial grid, before it became the first such commercial reactor to suffer a partial meltdown.

“Though we must wait for fire authorities to conclude their investigation, it is ironic that an electrical substation built for a reactor that melted down six decades ago now may now be associated with a catastrophic fire that began on the SSFL site that is still badly contaminated from that accident and numerous other spills and releases,” said Denise Duffield, Associate Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA.)

Cal Fire maps indicate that much of SSFL is within the fire boundaries.

Decades of nuclear and rocket-engine testing activity, including nuclear reactor accidents and other toxic spills and releases, have resulted in widespread contamination throughout SSFL’s 2,850 acre facility. Federally-funded studies indicate higher cancer incidents associated with proximity to the site. The California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which has regulatory oversight over the parties responsible for cleaning up the contamination – the Dept. of Energy, NASA, and the Boeing Company – signed legally binding agreements to fully cleanup the contamination by 2017. However, the cleanup has not even begun and DTSC is considering vastly weaker cleanup plans.

“If DTSC and those responsible for polluting SSFL had not broken their cleanup commitments, we wouldn’t be facing the prospect of contamination now being driven off site by the fire,” said Duffield..

“The Woolsey Fire likely released and spread radiological and chemical contamination that was in SSFL’s soil and vegetation via smoke and ash,” said Dr. Bob Dodge, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “All wildfire smoke can be hazardous to health, but if SSFL had been cleaned up long ago as DTSC promised, we’d at least not have to worry about exposure to dangerous radionuclides and chemicals as well.”

A statement released by DTSC approximately 10 hours after the fire began said the agency doesn’t believe the fire caused the release of hazardous substances.  Mohsen Nazemi, Deputy Director for DTSC’s Brownfields & Environmental Restoration Program, participated in a community meeting Sunday night in Woodland Hills, repeating the same unfounded denials and leaving without taking questions.

“We’ve learned not to trust anything DTSC says, so we’re demanding independent testing and air monitoring for radiation and chemicals from SSFL,” said Melissa Bumstead, a West HIlls resident whose daughter has twice survived leukemia that she believes was caused by SSFL. Bumstead’s Change.org petition urging that SSFL cleanup commitments be upheld has been signed by over 430,000 people.

“DTSC has made one broken promise after another, and it wasn’t truthful about SSFL’s contamination long before the fire started.” said Bumstead. “Why would we believe DTSC’s statement that the fire caused no additional risk, when they know they’re the ones responsible for SSFL still being contaminated in the first place?”

Marie Mason, Simi Valley resident and co-founder of the Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition, agrees. “We’re outraged that after all these years, decades of foot-dragging by DTSC, an agency that is captured by polluters, may have resulted in even more toxic exposures. We’ve always worried about a fire at SSFL, and now a massive wildfire has started on site itself. SSFL could have and should have been cleaned up a long time ago.”

PSR-LA’s Duffield said, “While we must await the final investigation of the cause of the fire, the presently available evidence indicates it appears to have begun on the Santa Susana Field Lab, and the failure to clean it up has significantly increased risks to the public nearby.” 

###

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) is the largest chapter of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility and has worked for the full cleanup of SSFL for over 30 years.. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

Parents vs. SSFL is a grassroots group of concerned parents and residents who demand compliance with cleanup agreements signed in 2010 that require a full cleanup of all radioactive and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

The Rocketdyne Cleanup Coalition, or RCC, is a community-based alliance dedicated to the cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), commonly known as Rocketdyne.


NOTE: We are demanding independent post-fire testing and air monitoring for radiation and chemicals from SSFL. Given the extent of SSFL’s contamination, precautions recommended by fire authorities, such as limiting outdoor activities and using N95 face masks in smokey areas, are especially important.

https://www.psr-la.org/massive-woolsey-fire-began-on-contaminated-santa-susana-field-laboratory-close-to-site-of-partial-meltdown/