Monday, March 28, 2011

Turning Japanese in Massachusetts

Based on medium-case scenarios out of Fukushima, cClearly it would be foolish to cut back on ANY vices at this juncture because frankly, you just won't have time to die of alcoholism or drug addiction before the Cesium-137 gets you.

From Press-TV
Traces of radioactive iodine linked to quake-hit Japan's nuclear power plant have been found in rainwater samples taken last week in Massachusetts, US.
The low level of radioiodine-131detected in Massachusetts rainwater samples is comparable to the amounts found in California, Washington and Pennsylvania.
However, what the story doesn't cite is the plutonium seeping into water & ground. Plutonium (alpha emitter) can decay into far more deadly materials after after a short period of time. Plutonium-241 can decay into Americium-241, which is a gamma-ray emitter.

What are alpha emitters? From Princeton:
An alpha particle consists of two neutrons and two protons ejected from the nucleus of an atom. The alpha particle is identical to the nucleus of a helium atom. Examples of alpha emitters are radium, radon, thorium, and uranium.

Because alpha particles are charged and relatively heavy, they interact intensely with atoms in materials they encounter, giving up their energy over a very short range. In air, their travel distances are limited to no more than a few centimeters. As shown in the following illustration, alpha particles are easily shielded against and can be stopped by a single sheet of paper.
So, those workers at the plants are dead ducks. And everything leaking into the ground & water could mutate into gamma emitters.

What are gamma emitters? From Idaho State University:
After a decay reaction, the nucleus is often in an “excited” state. This means that the decay has resulted in producing a nucleus which still has excess energy to get rid of. Rather than emitting another beta or alpha particle, this energy is lost by emitting a pulse of electromagnetic radiation called a gamma ray. The gamma ray is identical in nature to light or microwaves, but of very high energy.
Like all forms of electromagnetic radiation, the gamma ray has no mass and no charge. Gamma rays interact with material by colliding with the electrons in the shells of atoms. They lose their energy slowly in material, being able to travel significant distances before stopping. Depending on their initial energy, gamma rays can travel from 1 to hundreds of meters in air and can easily go right through people.
It is important to note that most alpha and beta emitters also emit gamma rays as part of their decay process. However, their is no such thing as a “pure” gamma emitter. Important gamma emitters including technetium-99m which is used in nuclear medicine, and cesium-137 which is used for calibration of nuclear instruments.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chernobyl goes east

Sun-Times reports that Tokyo residents clean out shelves of bottled water, and other supplies.  It is now admitted that tap water is not safe for adults.

Today's reports state mustard spinach in Tokyo have radiation levels above acceptable limits.

But there is some good news:  GE reported $5.1 billion in profits for 2010 and a tax credit of $3.2 billion.  Well played, GE.

And the latest part of the world to go up in flames:  Syria forces fire on protesters.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Maybe it does start with a bang

Thursday, 10 March 2011, shortly before midnight Chicago time (CST) a 9.0 earthquake hit Japan. Then the tsunami struck. And a chain of volcanoes from Russia to Indonesia erupted - going out on limb here, probably tripped by the epic earthquake. Then six (as of now) nuclear reactors' cooling systems are failing or failed.

What next for Japan?

The Japanese stock markets plunged on open, triggering circuit breakers. Financial Times reports the Bank of Japan plowed Y7 trillion into the markets to prop them up.  Yen worldwide is being repatriated to invest in repairing/rebuilding Japan.  What is not reported in that article but should be assumed is the Fed doing the same plunge protection in the Sunday overnight futures markets and ready for the Monday open of US markets.

Friday, March 11, 2011

When it rains, it erupts

Japan was struck by a 9.1 earthquake at 11:45pm CT (upgraded from an earlier reported 8.9).

In the wake of this tragedy, an Indonesian volcano erupted.
One of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, Mount Karangetang, erupted Friday, sending lava and searing gas clouds down its slopes.  The 1784-meter mountain is located on Siau, part of the Sulawesi island chain. It last erupted in August, killing four people. The eruption occurred hours after a devastating 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan and triggered a Pacific-wide tsunami.
Over in East Java, Mount Bromo is now erupting.

And two volcanoes in eastern Russia are erupting.
Two volcanoes in Eastern Russia , Kamchatka and one other in Indonesia, have erupted around the same time as the Japan 8.9-magnitude Earthquake on Friday.
And Japan has problems with some of their nuclear reactors.
March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it lost control of pressure building at three reactors at one of its nuclear power plants, and radiation levels are rising at another after a powerful earthquake shut down the plants’ cooling systems.