Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Decadal trends in 137Cs concentrations in the bark and wood of trees contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

August 4, 2022

Published: 04 July 2022


Understanding the actual situation of radiocesium (137Cs) contamination of trees caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident is essential for predicting the future contamination of wood. Particularly important is determining whether the 137Cs dynamics within forests and trees have reached apparent steady state. We conducted a monitoring survey of four major tree species (Japanese cedar, Japanese cypress, konara oak, and Japanese red pine) at multiple sites. Using a dynamic linear model, we analyzed the temporal trends in 137Cs activity concentrations in the bark (whole), outer bark, inner bark, wood (whole), sapwood, and heartwood during the 2011–2020 period. The activity concentrations were decay-corrected to September 1, 2020, to exclude the decrease due to the radioactive decay. The 137Cs concentrations in the whole and outer bark samples showed an exponential decrease in most plots but a flat trend in one plot, where 137Cs root uptake is considered to be high. The 137Cs concentration ratio (CR) of inner bark/sapwood showed a flat trend but the CR of heartwood/sapwood increased in many plots, indicating that the 137Cs dynamics reached apparent steady state within one year in the biologically active parts (inner bark and sapwood) and after several to more than 10 years in the inactive part (heartwood). The 137Cs concentration in the whole wood showed an increasing trend in six plots. In four of these plots, the increasing trend shifted to a flat or decreasing trend. Overall, the results show that the 137Cs dynamics within forests and trees have reached apparent steady state in many plots, although the amount of 137Cs root uptake in some plots is possibly still increasing 10 years after the accident. Clarifying the mechanisms and key factors determining the amount of 137Cs root uptake will be crucial for predicting wood contamination.


After the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident in March of 2011, a wide area of forests in eastern Japan was contaminated with radionuclides. In particular, radiocesium (137Cs) has the potential to threaten the forestry and wood production in the contaminated area for many decades because it was released in large amounts (10 PBq)1 and has a relatively long half-life (30 years). Radiocesium levels for some wood uses are strictly regulated in Japan (e.g., 40 Bq kg−1 for firewood2 and 50 Bq kg−1 for mushroom bed logs3), meaning that multipurpose uses of wood from even moderately contaminated areas are restricted. Although a guidance level of radiocesium in construction wood has not been declared in Japan, the permissible levels in some European countries (370–740 Bq kg−1)4,5,6 suggest that logging should be precautionary within several tens of kilometers from the FDNPP, where the 137Cs activity concentration in wood potentially exceeds 1,000 Bq kg−1 [refs. 7,8]. To determine whether logging should proceed, the long-term variation in wood 137Cs concentration must be predicted as accurately as possible. Many simulation models successfully reproduce the temporal variations in the early phase after the FDNPP accident, but produce large uncertainties in long-term predictions9. To understand the 137Cs dynamics in forests and trees and hence refine the prediction models, it is essential to provide and analyze the observational data of 137Cs activity concentrations in tree stem parts.

Accident-derived 137Cs causes two types of tree contamination: direct contamination by 137Cs fallout shortly after the accident, and indirect contamination caused by surface uptake from directly contaminated foliage/bark10,11 and root uptake from contaminated soil12. The 137Cs concentration in bark that pre-exists the accident was affected by both 137Cs drop/wash off from bark surfaces and 137Cs uptake because the bark consists of a directly contaminated outer bark (rhytidome) and an indirectly contaminated inner bark (phloem). Given that the 137Cs content was 10 times higher in the outer bark than in the inner bark in 201213 and the 137Cs concentration in the whole bark decreased during the 2011–2016 period at many study sites8, the temporal variation in the whole bark 137Cs concentration during the early post-accident phase must be mainly contributed by drop/wash off of 137Cs on the outer bark surface.

In contrast, stem wood (xylem) covered by bark was contaminated only indirectly. Although 137Cs distribution in sapwood (outer part of stem wood; containing living cells) and heartwood (inner part of stem wood; containing no living cells) is non-uniform and species-specific8,13,14,15, the 137Cs concentration in whole wood depends on the amount of 137Cs uptake. Because the dissolvable 137Cs on the foliar/bark surface decreased significantly within 201116, the main route of 137Cs uptake since 2012 is likely root uptake rather than surface uptake. A monitoring survey during 2011–2016 showed that the temporal trend in the whole wood 137Cs concentration can be increasing, decreasing, or flat8, suggesting that 137Cs root uptake widely differs among sites and species.

Meanwhile, many simulation models have predicted an initial increase in the whole wood 137Cs concentration after the accident, followed by a gradual decline9. The initial increase is attributable to the increase in soil 137Cs inventory, and the following decline is mainly attributed to radioactive decay, dilution by wood biomass increment, and immobilization in the soil. Therefore, the trend shift from increasing to decreasing is a good indicator that shows the 137Cs dynamics within the forest have reached apparent steady state, which is characterized by slower changes in 137Cs concentration, bioavailability, and partitioning in the forest12,17,18. However, the timing of the trend shift predicted by the models have large uncertainty, varying from several years to a few decades from the accident9. Moreover, the trend shift has not been confirmed by observational data after the FDNPP accident. Although our monitoring survey cannot easily identify the key driving factors of the temporal trends, it can directly discern the trend shift from increasing to decreasing, and the timeframe of the increasing trend. The confirmation of the trend shift will accelerate the understanding of key factors of 137Cs root uptake, because important parameters such as transfer factor and CR are originally defined for a steady state condition18.

The present study aims to clarify the temporal trends of 137Cs concentrations in bark and wood of four major tree species (Japanese cedar, Japanese cypress, konara oak, and Japanese red pine) at multiple sites during the 10 years following the FDNPP accident. Detecting a trend shift from increasing to decreasing in the wood 137Cs concentration was especially important to infer whether the 137Cs dynamics within the forest have reached apparent steady state. We update Ohashi et al.8, who analyzed the monotonous increasing or decreasing trends during 2011–2016, with observational data of 2017–2020 and a more flexible time-series analysis using a dynamic linear model (DLM). The DLM is suitable for analyzing data including observational errors and autocorrelation, and has the advantage of being applicable to time-series data with missing years. For a more detailed understanding of bark contamination and the 137Cs dynamics in tree stems, we also newly provide data on the 137Cs concentrations in the outer and inner barks. The temporal trends in the 137Cs CRs of outer bark/inner bark, heartwood/sapwood, and inner bark/sapwood were analyzed to confirm whether the 137Cs dynamics within the trees have reached apparent steady state.

Materials and methods

Monitoring sites and species

The monitoring survey was conducted at five sites in Fukushima Prefecture (sites 1–4 and A1) and at one site in Ibaraki Prefecture (site 5), Japan (Fig. 1). Sites 1, 2, and A1 are located in Kawauchi Village, site 3 in Otama Village, site 4 in Tadami Town, and site 5 in Ishioka City. Monitoring at sites 1–5 was started in 2011 or 2012, and site A1 was additionally monitored since 2017. The tree species, age, mean diameter at breast height, initial deposition density of 137Cs, and sampling year of each sample at each site are listed in Table 1. The dominant tree species in the contaminated area, namely, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica [L.f.] D.Don), Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa [Siebold et Zucc.] Endl.), konara oak (Quercus serrata Murray), and Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora Siebold et Zucc.) were selected for monitoring. Japanese chestnut (Castanea crenata Siebold et Zucc.) was supplementally added in 2017. The cedar, cypress, and pine are evergreen coniferous species, and the oak and chestnut are deciduous broad-leaved species. Sites 1 and 3 each have three plots, and each plot contains a different monitoring species. Site A1 has one plot containing two different monitoring species, and the remaining sites each have one plot with one monitoring species, giving ten plots in total.

Locations of the monitoring sites and initial deposition densities of 137Cs (decay-corrected to July 2, 2011) following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures. Open circles indicate the monitoring sites and the cross mark indicates the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. Data on the deposition density were provided by MEXT19,20 and refined by Kato et al.21. The map was created using R (version 4.1.0)22 with ggplot2 (version 3.3.5)23 and sf (version 1.0–0)24 packages.

Sample collection and preparation

Bulk sampling of bark and wood disks was conducted by felling three trees per year at all sites during 2011–20168,25 and at sites 3–5 and A1 during 2017–2020. Partial sampling from six trees per year was conducted at sites 1 and 2 during 2017–2020 (from seven trees at site 2 in 2017) to sustain the monitoring trees. All the samples were obtained from the stems around breast height. During the partial sampling, bark pieces sized approximately 3 cm × 3 cm (axial length × tangential length) were collected from four directions of the tree stem using a chisel, and 12-mm-diameter wood cores were collected from two directions of the tree stem using an automatic increment borer (Smartborer, Seiwa Works, Tsukuba, Japan) equipped with a borer bit (10–101-1046, Haglöf Sweden, Långsele, Sweden). Such partial sampling increases the observational errors in the bark and wood 137Cs concentrations in individual trees26. To mitigate this error and maintain an accurate mean value of the 137Cs concentration, we increased the number of sampled trees from three to six. The sampling was conducted mainly in July–September of each year; the exceptions were site-5 samples in 2011 and 2012, which were collected irregularly during January–February of the following year. The collected bark pieces were separated into outer and inner barks, and the wood disks and cores were split into sapwood and heartwood. The outer and inner bark samples during 2012–2016 were obtained by partial sampling of barks sized approximately 10 cm × 10 cm from 2–3 directions on 2–3 trees per year.

The bulk samples of bark, sapwood, and heartwood were air-dried and then chipped into flakes using a cutting mill with a 6-mm mesh sieve (UPC-140, HORAI, Higashiosaka, Japan). The pieces of the outer and inner bark were chipped into approximately 5 mm × 5 mm pieces using pruning shears, and the cores of the sapwood and heartwood were chipped into semicircles of thickness 1–2 mm. Each sample was packed into a container for radioactivity measurements and its mass was measured after oven-drying at 75 °C for at least 48 h. Multiplying this mass by the conversion factor (0.98 for bark and 0.99 for wood)8 yielded the dry mass at 105 °C.

Radioactivity measurements

The radioactivity of 137Cs in the samples was determined by γ-ray spectrometry with a high-purity Ge semiconductor detector (GEM20, GEM40, or GWL-120, ORTEC, Oak Ridge, TN). For measurements, the bulk and partial samples were placed into Marinelli containers (2.0 L or 0.7 L) and cylindrical containers (100 mL or 5 mL), respectively. The peak efficiencies of the Marinelli containers, the 100-mL container, and the 5-mL container were calibrated using standard sources of MX033MR, MX033U8PP (Japan Radioisotope Association, Tokyo, Japan), and EG-ML (Eckert & Ziegler Isotope Products, Valencia, CA), respectively. For the measurement of the 5-mL container, a well-type Ge detector (GWL-120) was used under the empirical assumption that the difference in γ-ray self-absorption between the standard source and the samples is negligible27. The measurement was continued until the counting error became less than 5% (higher counting errors were allowed for small or weakly radioactive samples). The activity concentration of 137Cs in the bark (whole) collected by partial sampling was calculated as the mass-weighted mean of the concentrations in the outer and inner barks; meanwhile, the concentration in the wood (whole) was calculated as the cross-sectional-area-weighted mean of sapwood and heartwood concentrations. The activity concentrations were decay-corrected to September 1, 2020, to exclude the decrease due to the radioactive decay.


Causes of temporal trends in bark 137Cs concentration

The 137Cs concentration in the whole bark decreased in many plots, clearly because the outer bark 137Cs concentration decreased. However, the whole bark 137Cs concentration showed a relatively small decrease or even a flat trend in some plots (site-2 cedar and site-1 cypress and oak). In the site-1 cypress plot, where the whole bark 137Cs concentration decreased relatively slowly, the inner bark 137Cs concentration notably increased. Similarly, although we lack early phase monitoring data in the site-2 cedar and site-1 oak plots, the inner bark 137Cs concentration in both plots is considered to have increased prior to monitoring because the sapwood 137Cs concentration increased in both plots and the CR of inner bark/sapwood was constant in all other plots. Therefore, the low-rate decrease or flat trend in the whole bark 137Cs concentration in some plots was probably caused by an increase in the inner bark 137Cs concentration, itself likely caused by high 137Cs root uptake (as discussed later).

The 137Cs concentration in the outer bark decreased in all four plots monitored since 2012 (site-1 and site-3 cedar, site-1 cypress, and site-3 pine), confirming the 137Cs drop/wash off from the bark surface. The constant (exponential) decrease in three of these plots indicates that the 137Cs drop/wash off was still continuing in 2020 but with smaller effect on the outer bark 137Cs concentration. In contrast, the decrease in the site-1 cypress plot seemed to slow down since around 2017. Furthermore, Kato et al.32 reported no decrease in 137Cs concentration in the outer bark of Japanese cedar during the 2012–2016 period. Such cases cannot be fitted by a simple decrease of the outer bark 137Cs concentration. As a longer-term perspective, in the outer bark of Norway spruces (Picea abies) affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the biological half-life of 137Cs concentration was extended in areas with higher precipitation, suggesting that high root uptake of 137Cs hinders the decreasing trend33. The present study showed that 70–80% or more of the 137Cs deposited on the bark surface (outer bark) was removed by drop/wash off after 10 years from the accident and that the 137Cs CR of outer bark/inner bark became constant in some plots. These facts suggest that the longer-term variations in outer bark 137Cs concentration will be more influenced by 137Cs root uptake, although it is uncertain whether root uptake caused the slowing down of the decrease rate seen in the site-1 cypress plot. Further studies are needed to understand the 137Cs concentration in newly formed outer bark and to determine the 137Cs CR of outer bark/inner bark at steady state.

Causes of temporal trends in wood 137Cs concentration

The temporal trends of the 137Cs concentration in the whole wood basically corresponded to those in the sapwood. The exceptions were the site-3 and site-4 cedar plots, where the sapwood 137Cs concentration did not increase but the whole wood 137Cs concentration was raised by the notable increase in the heartwood 137Cs concentration. This behavior can be attributed to a species-specific characteristic of Japanese cedar, which facilitates Cs transfer from sapwood to heartwood8,15,34. The present study newly found that the increase in the 137Cs CR of heartwood/sapwood in the cedar plots became smaller or shifted to a flat trend around 2015–2016, indicating that 137Cs transfer between the sapwood and heartwood has reached apparent steady state at many sites 10 years after the accident. Therefore, after 2020, the whole wood 137Cs concentration in cedar is unlikely to increase without a concomitant increase in the sapwood 137Cs concentration.

The increasing trends in the 137Cs concentrations in whole wood and sapwood (site-2 cedar, site-1 cypress, and site-1 and site-3 oak plots) are seemingly caused by the yearly increase in 137Cs root uptake; however, the wood 137Cs concentration can also increase when the 137Cs root uptake is constant or even slightly decreases each year. This behavior can be shown in a simple simulation of the temporal variation in the wood 137Cs content (the amount of 137Cs in stem wood of a tree). If the 137Cs dynamics within a tree have reached steady state and the proportion of 137Cs allocated to stem wood become apparently constant, the wood 137Cs content in a given year can be considered to be determined by the amount of 137Cs root uptake and the amount of 137Cs emission via litterfall. The flat 137Cs CR trend of inner bark/sapwood during 2012–2020 (see Fig. 5) indicates that the 137Cs dynamics, at least those between the inner bark and sapwood, reached apparent steady state within 2011. Here we assume that (1) the annual amount of 137Cs root uptake is constant, (2) the proportion of 137Cs allocated to stem wood is apparently constant, and as assumed in many forest Cs dynamics models17,35,36,37, (3) a certain proportion of 137Cs in the stem wood is lost via litterfall each year. Under these conditions, the simulated amount of 137Cs emission balanced the amount of 137Cs root uptake after sufficient time, and the wood 137Cs content approached an asymptotic value calculated as [root uptake amount × allocation proportion × (1/emission proportion − 1)]. Note that the asymptotic value increases with increasing root uptake amount and decreasing emission proportion and does not depend on the amount of 137Cs foliar/bark surface uptake in the early post-accident phase. Nevertheless, the amount of 137Cs surface uptake in the early phase critically determines the trend of the wood 137Cs content. More specifically, the trend in the early phase will be increasing (decreasing) if the surface uptake is smaller (larger) than the asymptotic value. Finally, the temporal variation of the 137Cs concentration in wood is thought to be the sum of the dilution effect of the increasing wood biomass and the above-simulated variation in the wood 137Cs content. Therefore, in the early post-accident phase, the wood 137Cs concentration will increase when the wood 137Cs content increases at a higher rate than the wood biomass. As the wood 137Cs content approaches its asymptotic value (i.e., steady state), its increase rate slows and the dilution effect proportionally increases. Then, the wood 137Cs concentration shifts from an increasing trend to a decreasing trend. The trends of the 137Cs concentrations in whole wood and sapwood in the site-3 oak plot follow this basic temporal trend, which is similarly predicted by many simulation models9.

In other plots with the increasing trend (site-2 cedar and site-1 cypress and oak), the increase in the 137Cs concentrations in whole wood and sapwood became smaller or shifted to a flat trend around six years after the accident; however, it did not shift to a decreasing trend. This lack of any clear shift to a decreasing trend, which was similarly seen at sites with hydromorphic soils after the Chernobyl nuclear accident38,39, cannot be well explained by the above simulation. A core assumption of the simulation that the yearly amount of 137Cs root uptake is constant is probably violated in these plots, leading to underestimations of the root uptake amount. Although the inventory of exchangeable 137Cs in the organic soil layer has decreased yearly since the accident, that in the mineral soil layer at 0–5 cm depth has remained constant40. In addition, the downward migration of 137Cs has increased the 137Cs inventory in the mineral soil layer below 5-cm depth41,42. If the steady state 137Cs inventory of the root uptake source can be regarded as sufficient for trees, any increase in the 137Cs root uptake is likely explained by expansion of the root distribution and the increase in transpiration (water uptake) with tree growth. When the wood 137Cs content increases at a similar rate to the wood biomass, the increasing trend will not obviously shift to a decreasing trend. Therefore, assuming the 137Cs allocation and emission proportions in the mature trees do not change considerably with time, the amount of 137Cs root uptake is considered to be increasing yearly in these four plots.

In the remaining plots with the decreasing or flat trend (site-1 cedar, site-4 cedar without outliers, site-5 cypress, and site-3 pine), according to the above simulation, the amount of initial 137Cs surface uptake was larger than or similar to the asymptotic value, i.e. the amount of 137Cs root uptake is relatively small and/or the proportion of 137Cs emission via litterfall is relatively high. However, the amount of 137Cs root uptake in the plots with the flat trend is possibly increasing because the flat trend has not shifted to a decreasing trend. In these plots, although it is difficult to confirm apparent steady state of the soil–tree 137Cs cycling because of the lack of an initial increasing trend, the recent flat trends in the 137Cs CRs of heartwood/sapwood and inner bark/sapwood indicate that the 137Cs dynamics, at least within the trees, have reached apparent steady state.

Various factors were found to increase the 137Cs root uptake after the Chernobyl nuclear accident; for example, high soil water content, high soil organic and low clay content (i.e., low radiocesium interception potential [RIP]), low soil exchangeable K concentration, and high soil exchangeable NH4 concentration12,43. After the FDNPP accident, the 137Cs transfer from soil to Japanese cypress and konara oak was found to be negatively correlated with the soil exchangeable K concentration44,45 and the 137Cs mobility is reportedly high in soils with low RIP46. However, neither the soil exchangeable K and Cs concentrations nor the RIP have explained the different 137Cs aggregated transfer factors (defined as [137Cs activity concentration in a specified component/137Cs activity inventory in the soil]) of Japanese cedars at sites 1–446,47. Because the 137Cs dynamics within the forest and trees in many plots reached apparent steady state at 10 years after the FDNPP accident, the 137Cs aggregated transfer factor is now considered to be an informative indicator of the 137Cs root uptake. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of the 137Cs aggregated transfer factor and the soil properties at more sites than in the present study will be important to understand key factors determining the amount of 137Cs root uptake by each tree species at each site.

Validity and limitation of the trend analyses

Although the application of the smooth local linear trend model failed in plots monitored for less than five years, it was deemed suitable for analyzing the decadal trend because it removes annual noises, which are probably caused by relatively large observational errors (including individual variability)26. Moreover, the algorithm that determines the trend and its shift between 2 and 4 delimiting years was apparently reasonable, because the detected trends well matched our intuition. However, when judging a trend, the algorithm simply assesses whether the true state values significantly differ between the delimiting years. Therefore, it cannot detect changes in the increase/decrease rate (i.e., whether an increasing/decreasing trend is approaching a flat trend). For example, the whole bark 137Cs concentration in the site-1 cypress plot was determined to decrease throughout the monitoring period. In fact, the decrease rate slowed around 2014 and the decreases were slight between 2014 and 2020 (see Fig. 2). Similarly, the sapwood 137Cs concentration in the site-1 cypress and oak plots was determined to increase throughout the monitoring period, but the increase rate has clearly slowed since around 2017. To more sensitively detect the shift from an increasing/decreasing trend to a flat trend, other algorithms are required. Nevertheless, this algorithm is acceptable for the chief aim of the present study; that is, to detect a trend shift from increasing to decreasing.


In many plots monitored at Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures, the 137Cs concentrations in the whole and outer bark decreased at almost the same yearly rate for 10 years after the FDNPP accident, indicating that the direct contamination of the outer bark was mostly but not completely removed during this period. Moreover, the 137Cs concentration in the whole bark decreased at relatively low rates or was stable in plots where the 137Cs root uptake was considered to be high. This fact suggests that indirect contamination through continuous root uptake can reach the same magnitude as direct contamination by the accident.

In all of our analyzed plots, the 137Cs CR of inner bark/sapwood has not changed since 2012, indicating that 137Cs transfer among the biologically active parts of the tree stem had already reached apparent steady state in 2011. In contrast, the 137Cs CR of heartwood/sapwood in six out of nine plots increased after the accident. In four of these plots, the 137Cs CR of heartwood/sapwood plateaued after 3–6 years; in the other two plots, the plateau was not reached even after 10 years. Therefore, saturation of 137Cs in heartwood (an inactive part of the tree stem) requires several years to more than one decade.

The 137Cs concentration in the whole wood showed an increasing trend in six out of nine plots. In four of these plots, the increasing trend shifted to a flat or decreasing trend, indicating that the 137Cs dynamics in many forests reached apparent steady state at 10 years after the accident. However, the lack of the clear shift to a decreasing trend indicates that the 137Cs root uptake is probably still increasing in some plots. Continuous monitoring surveys and further studies clarifying the complex mechanisms of 137Cs root uptake in forests are needed in order to refine the simulation models and improve their prediction accuracy.

Nuclear war would turn oceans upside down, crash food web

August 4, 2022 July 8, 2022 By Chris Barncard , Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given the specter of nuclear war renewed weight as a global threat, and a new study of the environmental impact of a nuclear conflict describes dire consequences for the world’s oceans.

“If there were a nuclear war, these huge explosions and the firestorms they cause could throw so much soot — teragrams, or millions of tons — into the atmosphere, it would block out enough sunlight to cool the atmosphere significantly,” says Elizabeth Maroon, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In just one month after a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States or India and Pakistan, average global temperatures would drop by 13 degrees Fahrenheit — a larger temperature change than in the last ice age — according to climate modeling by Maroon and collaborators from around the world. The research team, led by Louisiana State University professor of oceanography and coast sciences Cheryl Harrison, published their findings July 7 in the journal AGU Advances.

Even setting aside radioactive fallout, the consequences on land would be dire, including widespread crop failures. But in just a year, the planet’s interconnected oceans would enter a state unfamiliar to scientists like Maroon who study the way oceans have changed on much longer time scales. And, unlike effects on the atmosphere and on land, oceans would not fully recover within the 30-year time period covered by the researchers’ simulations of nuclear conflicts.

“Changes in the ocean take longer than in the atmosphere or on land, but our modeling shows that even in the first year after a nuclear war the ocean circulation would have started changing drastically,” says Maroon, an expert on the interplay between the Atlantic Ocean’s complex circulation patterns and Earth’s climate.

The Atlantic’s major circulation turn-around in the northern latitudes — in which warm surface water streaming north to Greenland, Iceland and Norway cools and sinks into middle depths to be drawn south again — comes unhinged.

“Within the first year or two, water in the North Atlantic sinks all the way to the bottom of the ocean, which we think has not happened even in the ice ages,” says Maroon. “In today’s ocean, only near Antarctica does water sink all the way to the seafloor.”

That unprecedented mixing and ocean circulation speed-up — which would last for about two decades — would move nutrients in the ocean vital for supporting the smallest and most numerous marine organisms, like plankton, into entirely unfamiliar conditions around the world.

It would also result in cooling so strong it would extend sea ice and render impassable major seaports that are now open year-round, and would likely cause significant damage to much of the ocean food web.

“It’s no secret that nuclear winter would be terrible,” Maroon says. “What this study shows are the lasting extent of effects we hadn’t really addressed before on ocean circulation and ecosystems and the very base of the food web.”

To read more about the study and its findings, visit:

Nuclear Contaminated Water From Fukushima Should Never Be Out Of One’s Mind

August 4, 2022

Nuke Contaminated Water From Fukushima Should Never Be Out Of One’s Mind, By Zhou Dingxing.  Jun 7, 2022,  In 2011, the “3/11” earthquake in Japan caused the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactor core, unleashing enormous amounts of radioactive material. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), decided to pour in seawater to cool the reactor and contain the leakage. And because the used seawater became highly contaminated with radioactive material, TEPCO had to put it in storage tanks. A decade on, the nuclear contaminated water generated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are about 150 tons per day in 2021, and will reach the upper limit of the storage tank capacity of 1.37 million tons in the spring of 2023.

According to estimates by the Japan Centre for Economic Research, it will cost 50-70 trillion yen (about $400-550 billion) to scrap and decontaminate the reactor, the bulk of which goes to the treatment of contaminated water. So in April 2021, the Japanese government announced that the problem of increasing amounts of nuclear contaminated wastewater would be addressed by dumping it into the sea. On May 18, 2022, the Japan Atomic Energy Regulatory Commission granted initial approval for TEPCO’s ocean dumping plan.

After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese government set up the “Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation” (NDF), which is an official agency with 50.1 percent of TEPCO’s voting rights, in order to prevent TEPCO from going bankrupt. In other words, TEPCO is now under direct jurisdiction and control of the Japanese government. It is not hard to see that both TEPCO and the Japanese government are the masterminds behind the nuclear contaminated water dumping plan, because for them, this is the most expedient, cost-effective and trouble-saving way. Japan would need to spend only 3.4 billion yen (about $27 million) according to this plan. But the threat to nature, the environment and human life as a result of such reckless actions was probably never on their minds.


Monitoring data collected in 2012 showed that the concentration of Cesium in the waters near Fukushima was 100,000 becquerels per cubic meter, which is 100 times higher than what was detected in the Black Sea after the Chernobyl nuclear leak. Ten years later in 2021, 500 becquerels of radioactive elements per kilogram of weight could still be detected in the flat scorpionfish caught by Japanese fishermen off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, or five times higher than Japan’s own standards. In the 11 years since the nuclear disaster, one or two thyroid cancer cases have been reported for every 60,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture, much higher than the normal rate.

The Japanese government and TEPCO have repeatedly claimed that nuclear contaminated water is “safe” to be dumped into the ocean because it would go through the multi-nuclide removal system (Advanced Liquid Processing System, ALPS). But it is only the radioactive substance called “Tritium” that has reached this standard. And what Japan doesn’t say is that, even after treatment, the water still contains other radioactive substances such as Strontium 90 and Carbon 14 that cause genetic mutation in the ecosystem.

Since the release of the ALPS-related report, the Japanese government has not held any briefings or hearings for the public. And in order to justify the dumping plan, the Japanese government contacted citizen and groups to ask them to stop using the words “nuclear contaminated water”, and use “nuclear treated water” instead. Vigorous public relations (PR) efforts have also been carried out to whitewash the plan. In the 2021 budget of the Japanese Reconstruction Agency, PR expenses related to the Fukushima nuclear accident have increased to 2 billion yen (around $16 million), over four times than the previous year figure. The money has been used on professional teams to weaken and remove negative public opinion in Japan and abroad about the nuclear contaminated water through various propaganda programs.

Furthermore, TEPCO’s track records for handling the nuclear accident have been filled with deception and distortion. In 2007, TEPCO admitted that it had tampered with data and concealed potential safety hazards in a total of 199 regular inspections of 13 reactors in its nuclear power plants since 1977, including the cooling system failure in the Fukushima nuclear accident. One week after the 2011 nuclear accident when experts had already made the judgment that the cores of Units 1 to 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had melted, the company still refused to announce the truth to the public, and instead chose to use “core damage,” a term that was significantly less alarming. With a past so bad it is hard to make one believe that TEPCO will dump “safe” nuclear contaminated water into the sea.


The Japanese government has so far failed to provide sufficient and credible explanations on the legitimacy of the nuclear contaminated water dumping plan, the reliability of nuclear contaminated water data, the effectiveness of the purification devices, and the uncertainty of the environmental impact. To promote the plan under such circumstances has only brought about wide criticism and questions by various communities in Japan and beyond.

Up to 70 percent of the people in Fukushima Prefecture have expressed opposition to the dumping plan. Konno Toshio, former president of Fukushima University, was opposed to advancing the ocean dumping plan without prior understanding at home and abroad, because this plan could affect future generations and must be treated with great caution. The fishery cooperatives and local councils in Miyagi Prefecture, which is adjacent to Fukushima Prefecture, believe that the dumping of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean may affect the safety of local aquatic products and cause significant economic losses to related industries. Already, 180,000 people in Japan have signed the petition to the Japanese government to adopt disposal options other than ocean dumping.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, academician at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, said that radioactive substances in the nuclear contaminated water can only be partially filtered, and the treated water still contains extremely dangerous radionuclides, which will pollute marine life and spread to the entire ocean through fish migration. This will gravely harm the global marine environment and cause serious harm to the health of people in the periphery. According to a research model established by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, half of the Pacific Ocean will be polluted in less than 57 days if nuclear contaminated water is dumped at the speed announced by Japan.

Voices of justice

Japan’s ocean dumping plan of nuclear contaminated water is a serious threat to the marine environment, and it damages marine interests of the neighbors and other littoral countries. It also violates multiple international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Assistance in Nuclear Accidents or Radiation Emergencies, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety as well as principles of the international law. Many countries, including China, have expressed concern over or opposition to it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing the Japanese government for not consulting with or providing any related information to its neighbors when the decision was made, and expressing grave concern over Japan’s dumping of nuclear polluted water into the ocean. The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador to Seoul to make a serious protest against Japan’s unilateral decision while large crowds gathered in front of the Japanese embassy to protest. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has launched an assessment of Japan’s plan.

The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly pointed out that Japan’s dumping of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean is extremely irresponsible, and demanded that Japan fully consult with neighbouring countries, other stakeholders, and relevant international institutions to find a proper way to dispose of the nuclear contaminated water, before which the dumping into the ocean shall not be initiated.

The ocean is a treasure for all mankind and our home for survival. It is essential for sustainable development and our future. To dump nuclear contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean is a major issue that bears on the environment for human survival and health, it is not just Japan’s internal affairs. Although keenly aware of the grave harm to the global marine environment caused by the dumping of such water into the sea, Japan has attempted to push through the plan without exhausting all other safe methods. Such an opaque and irresponsible approach is unacceptable, let alone trusted by countries in the region and the larger international community.

The author is a scholar on international studies

After the meltdown

August 4, 2022

Because many health impacts appear years or decades after the radiological catastrophe, this allows governments, media and nuclear power proponents to claim minimal health impacts, and thereby to misrepresent the true state of affairs. This downplays the significant long-term health impacts of accidents, including among those who were not alive when the initial radioactive fallout occurred. 

The most effective, and precautionary, approach, is the prompt phaseout of nuclear power and its supporting industries, which would be beneficial for both health and the climate.  by beyondnuclearinternational, Reactors in a war zone and potential health consequences, By Cindy Folkers, Beyond Nuclear (US) and Dr Ian Fairlie, CND (UK)

Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to meltdown at any time, but they are especially vulnerable during wars, such as we are seeing in Ukraine, as evidenced by Russian attacks on the six-reactor Zaporizhizhia nuclear power facility and on the closed nuclear facility at Chornobyl in March 2022. 

Media articles often dwell on the conditions that could spark a meltdown, but attention should also be paid to the possible human health consequences. We answer some questions about the short-term and long-term consequences for human health of a radiological disaster at a nuclear power plant.

What happens at a reactor during a major nuclear power disaster?

The main dangers would arise at the reactor and at its irradiated fuel pool. Loss of power can result in both of these draining down, as their water contents leaked or boiled away. This would expose highly radioactive fuel rods, resulting in meltdowns and explosions as occurred at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, where large amounts of radioactivity were released into the environment. 

Explosions, as happened at both Chornobyl and Fukushima, eject radioactive nuclides high into the atmosphere, so that they travel long distances downwind via weather patterns, such as winds and rain. The result is radioactive fallout over large areas, as occurred at Chornobyl and Fukushima. The map below, from the European Environment Agency, shows that the dispersion and deposition of caesium-137 (Cs-137) from the Chornobyl catastrophe in Ukraine in 1986 was far-reaching — covering 40% of the land area of Europe, as it followed weather patterns over the 10-day period of the accident.

Contrary to what many people think, the radioactive fallout from Chornobyl reached the UK (2,500 km away) in 1986 as also shown in the above map [on original].

In Japan, radiation deposition from Fukushima in 2011 also fell in selective areas of Japan, with some radioactive particles traveling as far as 400 km. It is estimated that about 7% of Japan was seriously contaminated.

What is released during a major nuclear power accident?

In the first few days and weeks after the disaster, the first releases are generally short-lived radioactive gases and vapors including tritium (i.e. as tritiated water vapor), xenon, krypton, and iodine. These gases and vapors deliver harmful exposures to people living downwind of the nuclear plant when they are inhaled.

Later, hundreds of non-volatile nuclides can be released. These are non-gaseous, generally longer-lived radionuclides which can nevertheless travel long distances. They include strontium, caesium and plutonium. These pose dangers over longer time periods, contaminating the trees, farms, fields and urban areas where they settle and recirculate for decades afterwards. 

Although media reports usually talk about the half-lives of radionuclides (defined as the time it takes for half of the substance to decay), this is misleading, as the hazardous longevity of these nuclides is often 10 to 20 times longer than their radiological half-life. For example, nuclear waste consultants routinely use 300 years (i.e. 10 x the 30-year half-life of Cs-137) as a benchmark for the required longevity of waste facilities.

What are the harmful health effects?

Both short-lived and long-lived nuclides are dangerous.

Although short-lived radionuclides, for example, iodine-131 (I-131) with a half-life of 8.3 days, decay relatively quickly, this means that their doses-rates are high. Therefore during their short times they still give high dosesThese cause (a) immediate impacts (e.g. skin rashes, metallic taste, nausea, hair loss, etc.) and (b) diseases years later, such as thyroid cancer, long after the nuclide has decayed away. As they decay, they result in exposures both externally (e.g. to skin) and internally, by inhalation or ingestion.

Longer-lived nuclides in the environment, such as caesium-131 (Cs-137) with a half-life of 30 years, also pose dangers. These occur both initially during the first phases of a catastrophe when they are inhaled or ingested but also decades later when soils and leaf litter are disturbed by storms or forest fires. They can continually expose subsequent generations of people and animals, especially those unable to evacuate from contaminated areas or who lack access to clean food. 

Can I protect myself and my family?

The main responses to a nuclear disaster are shelter, evacuation and stable iodine prophylaxis. The most important, in terms of preventing future cancer epidemics, is evacuation, in other words, reducing exposure time as much as possible.

However unless evacuations are properly planned and executed, they can add to the death toll. For an accurate account of what happened during the poorly planned evacuations after the Fukushima see Ian Fairlie’s articleEvacuations After Severe Nuclear Accidents.

Shelter means staying indoors and closing all doors and windows tightly, blocking any areas where air might enter. 

Potassium iodide (KI) tablets are proven to be effective in protecting against the harmful effects of fast-traveling iodine-131, as radioactive gases are the first to arrive in the event of a nuclear disaster. This protection is particularly important for pregnant women and children. However KI ONLY protects the thyroid and does NOT provide protection against exposures to the other nuclides commonly released during nuclear accidents, such as caesium-137, strontium-90 and tritium.

Harm down the generations and continuing recontamination

The contamination released by nuclear reactors doesn’t stay in one place. Through forest fires, heavy rains, snowmelt, and human activities such as war, radioactivity in plants and soils can be resuspended later on, becoming available for yet more inhalation or ingestion, ensuring ongoing exposures.

Much of the impact in populations in radioactively contaminated areas could be avoided if people were assisted in moving away in order to stop breathing contaminated air and eating contaminated food. In addition, Korsakov et al., (2020) showed that babies in contaminated areas suffered raised levels of birth defects and congenital malformations. 

Studies have also shown that animals living on contaminated lands show an increased sensitivity to radiation compared to their parents (Goncharova and Ryabokon, 1998) and accelerated mutation rates (Baker et al., 2017, Kesäniemi et al., 2017). 

What we already know about health effects from nuclear accidents

The radioactive plumes from the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear catastrophe near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania US in 1979 resulted in local people complaining of skin rashes, metallic tastes in their mouths, hair loss (Wing, 1997) and the deaths of their pets. These are all deterministic (i.e. cell killing) effects due to exposures to the very high concentrations of the radioactive gases iodine, krypton, xenon and tritium vapor released during the TMI accident. Radiation levels were so high they overwhelmed radiation monitors, which then failed to measure levels, or erroneously registered them as zero.

At TMI, Chornobyl, and Fukushima, children exposed to radioactive iodine in the initial release experienced thyroid problems, including thyroid cancer. At Chornobyl, the link between this exposure and thyroid cancer was definitively made and even accepted by radiation authorities – see UNSCEAR (2008). After Fukushima, the incidence of thyroid cancer has increased to 20 times the expected number of thyroid cancers among those exposed as children. However the Japanese Government and its agencies have refrained from accepting these figures.

Because many health impacts appear years or decades after the radiological catastrophe, this allows governments, media and nuclear power proponents to claim minimal health impacts, and thereby to misrepresent the true state of affairs. This downplays the significant long-term health impacts of accidents, including among those who were not alive when the initial radioactive fallout occurred. 

For example, the Torch 2 report in 2016 showed a long list of other health effects apart from thyroid cancer after the Chornobyl disaster.

Women, especially pregnant women and children are especially susceptible to damage from radiation exposure. This means that they suffer effects at lower doses. Resulting diseases include childhood cancers, impaired neural development, lower IQ rates, respiratory difficulties, cardiovascular diseases, perinatal mortality and birth defects — some appearing for the first time within a family in the population studied (Folkers, 2021).

Animals are also harmed: they have been found to suffer from genetic mutations, tumors, eye cataracts, sterility and neurological impairment, along with reductions in population sizes and biodiversity in areas of high contamination. 

What needs to happen

During the confusion and upheaval of past nuclear catastrophes, authorities have invariably attempted to downplay the dangers, deny the risks, and even raise allowable levels of radiation exposures. In all cases, they have comprehensively failed to protect the public. This needs to change.

Officials need to acknowledge the connection between radiation exposures and negative health impacts, particularly among women and children, so that early diagnoses and treatments can be provided. Independent, rather than industry-funded, science is needed to fully understand the cross-generational impact of radiation exposures. 

Ultimately, the best protection is the elimination of the risk of exposure, whether from routine radioactive releases or from a major disaster. The most effective, and precautionary, approach, is the prompt phaseout of nuclear power and its supporting industries, which would be beneficial for both health and the climate.

Read the report with full references — Possible health consequences of radioactive releases from stricken nuclear reactors — and a second report by Dr. Fairlie — A Primer on Radiation and Radioactivity—here.

Cindy Folkers is the radiation and health hazards specialist at Beyond Nuclear. Dr. Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment.

Radionuclides found from Hinkley nuclear mud Bristol Channel Citizens Radiation Survey .

December 25, 2021


 Radionuclides found…! Bristol Channel Citizens Radiation Survey, Tim Deere-Jones, Stop Hinkley C. A new survey has concluded the spread of man-made radioactivity from reactor discharges into the Bristol Channel is far more extensive and widespread than previously reported.

The research has also detected a high concentration of radioactivity in Splott Bay, which could be linked to the controversial dumping of dredged waste off the Cardiff coast in 2018.The survey was undertaken over the summer by groups from both sides of the Bristol Channel after EDF Energy refused to carry
out pre-dumping surveys of the Cardiff Grounds and Portishead sea dump sites where they have disposed of waste from the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant.

The survey found that shoreline concentrations of two radio nuclides (Caesium 137 and Americium 241)
typical of the effluents from the Hinkley reactors and indicators of the presence of Plutonium 239/240 and 241, do not decline significantly with distance from the Hinkley site as Government and Industry surveys had previously reportedOverall, the study found significant concentrations of Hinkley derived radioactivity in samples from all 11 sites, seven along the Somerset coast and four in south Wales and found unexpectedly high concentrations in sediments from Bristol Docks, the tidal River Avon, the
Portishead shoreline, Burnham-on-Sea and Woodspring Bay.

 Public Enquiry 11th Dec 2021

Research finds ‘significant concentrations’ of radioactivity in
samples taken from across the Somerset and south Wales coast. Nation Cymru 9th Dec 2021

Scenarios of the release of radioactive ions if high precision missiles were to strike Middle East nuclear reactors.

December 25, 2021

Report: Missile strike risks to Middle East nuclear reactors,  A new study explores potential radiological fallout and evacuations from a missile strike on commercial nuclear power plants.  Aljazeera,   By Patricia Sabga, 8 Dec 21   ” ………………Scenarios and reactors

To illustrate the potential vulnerability of a nuclear power facility to a high precision missile strike, NPEC analysed four current and planned nuclear power plants in the region for three scenarios involving the radiological release of caesium-137 (Cs-137) into the atmosphere.

“Caesium-137 is one isotope that is particularly concerning for several reasons and it’s one of the most common isotopes looked at when evaluating the danger of a nuclear accident or some kind of radioactive release,” the report’s lead researcher Eva Lisowski told Al Jazeera. “It’s dangerous enough and lasts long enough that it can cause a significant increase in the chances of developing cancer.”

Significant contamination with Cs-137 can result in hundreds of thousands of people being evacuated from their homes, the report warns, and they may not be able to return for decades, given it has a 30-year half-life.

The first scenario Lisowski modelled examined what would happen if a nuclear reactor containment building is breached by an air strike, resulting in the core being released. The second scenario mapped what would happen if a spent fuel pond were hit and a fire broke out. The third scenario assessed what would happen if a spent fuel pond that is densely packed with radioactive rods were targeted and caught fire.

The four facilities chosen for the scenarios include the UAE’s Barakah power plant, Iran’s Bushehr, the plant under construction at Akkuyu in Turkey, and the site of Egypt’s planned commercial nuclear power station at El Dabaa.

The study focused only on select commercial nuclear power reactors. Research reactors, such as the one Israel maintains at the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center near the city of Dimona, Iran’s Tehran Research Reactor, Egypt’s research reactor at Inshas, or Algeria’s research reactor at Es-Salam were not included in the study.

Sokolski also notes that containment buildings and spent fuel ponds are not the only targets for potential sabotage.

“You can go after the electricity lines that go into the plant that are necessary to keep the cooling system operating. You can go after the emergency generators, you can calibrate any number of effects with precision against that kind of sympathetic target,” he said.

The findings

The amounts of Cs-137 released in each scenario, as well as the estimated number of evacuees in each contamination zone, were simulated for four different months of the year based on 2020 weather patterns: March, June, September and December.

The simulations all include neighbouring countries that could be affected by mandatory evacuations.

The report examined scenarios for both a large release of Cs-137 (75 percent) and a smaller release (10 percent or 5 percent) to illustrate the potential differences between a densely-packed spent fuel pool catching fire, versus one that is not full.

The three scenarios involving a missile or drone attack on the Barakah nuclear power plant predicted average population displacements ranging from 800 mandatory and 40,000 voluntary evacuations in a low-radiological release simulation involving a core breach, to 4 million mandatory and 8 million voluntary evacuations if a densely packed spent fuel pond is hit resulting in a high release of Cs-137.

The three scenarios involving a missile or drone attack on the Bushehr nuclear power plant predicted average population displacements ranging from 53,000 mandatory and 120,000 voluntary evacuations in low-radiological release simulation involving a core breach, to 6.7 million mandatory and 4.8 million voluntary evacuations if a densely packed spent fuel pond is hit resulting in a high release of Cs-137.

The three scenarios involving a missile or drone attack on the Akkuyu nuclear power plant predicted average population displacements ranging from 1,000 mandatory and 28,000 voluntary evacuations in low-radiological release simulation involving a reactor core breach, to 4.6 million mandatory and 10 million voluntary evacuations if a densely packed spent fuel pond is hit resulting in a high release of Cs-137.

France quietly benefiting from the neglect of international commitments to protect the seas from radioactive discharges.

December 25, 2021

  SafeEnergy E Journal  No.92. December 21, Radioactive Discharges The OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic has discreetly postponed its commitment to reduce radioactive discharges at sea from 2020 to 2050. Following a meeting on October 1st, the participating ministers discreetly postponed until 2050 the commitment made in 1998 in Sintra to reduce radioactive discharges into the sea to levels close to zero by 2020.

Once again, international commitments to the environment are being disregarded. This does not bode well for the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow. France is the first beneficiary of this 30-year postponement because, with its reprocessing plant at La Hague, it has the highest radioactive discharges to the sea in Europe. And these discharges are not decreasing, as shown by the results of the citizen monitoring of radioactivity in the environment carried out by Association pour le Contrôle de la Radioactivité dans l’Oues (ACRO) for over 25 years. (1)   

  The “Cascais Declaration” signed at a Ministerial Meeting in October 2021 said:“We aim to achieve zero pollution by 2050 and commit to reduce single-use plastic items and maritime related plastic items on our beaches by 50% by 2025 and 75% by 2030. We will take action to eliminate anthropogenic eutrophication and continue to reduce hazardous and radioactive substances to near background levels for naturally occurring substances and close to zero for human made substances.” (2)

 Remi Parmentier, who was the lead Greenpeace International campaigner when the Sintra Decalation was signed in 1998 tweeted:   

  “30 yrs backward presented as progress. The OSPAR Commission is using Orwellian language: “We *aim* to achieve zero pollution by 2050” [“aim”, not “commit”], wiping out the previous target date (agreed in 1998) which was…2020.” 
Meanwhile, the NDA is now saying all Magnox reprocessing will be completed in 2022. The Magnox reprocessing plant was expected to close in 2020 before delays caused by Covid. (3  

  1. ACRO 19th Oct 2021

2. OSPAR Cascais Declaration October 2021
 3. NDA Mission Progress Report 2021. 4th Nov 2021

Europe to pay half for raising Russia’s dangerous sunken submarines, – while Russia builds new ones!

December 25, 2021

The sunken submarines K-27 and K-159 are the potential source of contamination of the Arctic, the riskiest ones,”

As Moscow this spring took the Chair of the Arctic Council, the need to lift dangerous nuclear materials from the seabed was highlighted as a priority.

No other places in the world’s oceans have more radioactive and nuclear waste than the Kara Sea.

Europe to pay half … it is a dilemma that international partners are providing financial support to lift old Cold War submarines from the ocean, while Russia gives priority to building new nuclear-powered submarines threatening the security landscape in northern Europe. 

EU willing to co-fund lifting of sunken nuclear subs from Arctic seabed The Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) has decided to start a technical review aimed to find a safe way to lift two Cold War submarines from the Barents- and Kara Seas. By Thomas Nilsen   

“We are proceeding now,” says a smiling Jari Vilén, Finland’s Ambassador for Barents and Northern Dimension.

Projects aimed to improve nuclear safety are some of the few successful arenas for cooperation still going strong between the European Union and Russia.

“In roughly two years time we will have the understanding on what and how it can be done, what kind of technology has to be used,” Vilén elaborates with reference to the two old Soviet submarines K-159 and K-27, both rusting on the Arctic seabed with highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel elements in their reactors.


“Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders” 

December 25, 2021

Biggest US nuclear bomb test destroyed an island—and this man’s life, By Eric Spitznagel   The US bomb tested near John Anjain’s (right) home in the Marshall Islands in 1954 was 1,000 times stronger than at Hiroshima, and left his wife and kids with debilitating and deadly health problems, as detailed in a new book. November 20, 2021

Just before dawn on March 1, 1954, John Anjain was enjoying coffee on the beach in the South Pacific when he heard a thunderous blast, and saw something in the sky that he said “looked like a second sun was rising in the west.”

Later that day, “something began falling upon our island,” said Anjain, who at the time was 32 and chief magistrate of the Rongelap atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. “It looked like ash from a fire. It fell on me, it fell on my wife, it fell on our infant son.”

It wasn’t a paranormal experience. Anjain and his five young sons, along with the 82 other inhabitants of Rongelap, were collateral damage from a “deadly radioactive fallout from a hydrogen bomb test… detonated by American scientists and military personnel,” writes Walter Pincus in his new book, “Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders” (Diversion Books), out now.

In 1946, the US started testing atomic weapons began in Bikini Atoll, 125 miles west of Rongelap. Known as Operation Crossroads, the tests were moved to the islands from the US because officials feared “radioactive fallout could not be safely contained at
any site in the United States,” writes Pincus.

During those early tests, the Rongelapians were relocated to another island a safe distance away.

But the 1954 test was different. Not only were there no evacuations, but “Castle
Bravo,” as it was dubbed, was also the largest of the thermonuclear devices detonated during the military’s 67 tests, “a thousand times as large as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima,” writes Pincus.

It took just hours for fallout to reach the shores of Rongelap, where it blanketed the island with radioactive material, covering houses and coconut palm trees. On some parts of the isle, the white radioactive ash was “an inch and a half deep on the ground,” writes Pincus.

The natives, who often went barefoot and shirtless, were covered in the toxic debris. It stuck to their hair and bodies and even between their toes.

“Some people put it in their mouths and tasted it,” Anjain recalled at a Washington DC hearing run by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to investigate the incident in 1977. “One man rubbed it into his eye to see if it would cure an old ailment. People walked in it, and children played with it.”

Rain followed, which dissolved the ash and carried it “down drains and into the barrels that provided water for each household,” writes Pincus.

It took three days before American officials finally evacuated the island, taking the natives to nearby Kwajalein for medical tests. Many Rongelapians were already suffering health effects, like vomiting, hair loss, and all-over body burns and blisters. Tests showed their white blood cell counts plummeting, and high levels of radioactive strontium in their systems. No one died, at least not immediately. That would come later.

After three years, the Rongelapians were allowed to return home, assured by officials that conditions were safe. But by 1957, the rate of miscarriages and stillbirths on the island doubled, and by 1963 the first residents began to develop thyroid tumors.

Though they continued to conduct annual medical tests, the US military admitted no culpability, other than awarding each islander $10,800 in 1964 as compensation for the inconvenience.

In fact, some — including the islanders — have speculated that the US government had used the Rongelapians as “convenient guinea pigs” to study the effects of high-level radiation.

For Anjain and his family, the effects were devastating. His wife and four of his children developed cancer. A sixth child, born after the fallout, developed poliomyelitis and had to use a crutch after one of his legs became paralyzed.

But the biggest tragedy befell his fifth child Lekoj, who was just one year old when Castle Bravo covered their island in nuclear dust. As a child, he was mostly healthy, other than the occasional mysterious bruise. Soon after his 18th birthday, Lekoj was flown to an American hospital, where doctors discovered he had acute myelogenous leukemia.

Anjain stayed at his son’s bedside for weeks as he underwent chemo, holding his dying son’s hand and watching him disappear.

He recounted Lekoj’s final days in a letter to the Friends of Micronesia newsletter in 1973. “Bleeding started in his ears, mouth and nose and he seemed to be losing his mind,” Anjain wrote of his son. “When I would ask him questions he gave me no
answer except ‘Bad Luck.’”

Lekoj passed away on November 15, 1972, at just 19. Newsweek called him “the first, and so far only leukemia victim of an H-bomb,” and said his death was proof that nuclear fallout “could be even more lethal to human life than the great fireball itself.”

After burying his son at a spot overlooking Rongelap Lagoon, Anjain continued to battle for financial restitution for his family and other Rongelapian survivors. In 2004, just months before his death (of undisclosed causes) at 81, he marched with 2,000 people in Japan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1954 hydrogen bomb test that slowly killed his son.

In 2007, a Nuclear Claims Tribunal awarded Rongelap more than $1 billion in damages, but not a penny of it has yet been paid. And according to a 2019 Columbia University study, radiation levels on Rongelap are still higher than Chernobyl or Fukushima.

For Anjain, it was never really about the money. “I know that money cannot bring back my son,” he once said. “It cannot give me back 23 years of my life. It cannot take the poison from the coconut crabs. It cannot make us stop being afraid.” 

Radioactive contamination from the partially-burned former Santa Susanna nuclear research facility

December 25, 2021

Radioactive microparticles related to the Woolsey Fire in Simi Valley, CA  SCience Direct, MarcoKaltofenaMaggieGundersenbArnieGundersenb    Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Dept. of Physics, Fairewinds Energy Education, 8 October 2021. 


Wildfire in radiologically contaminated zones is a global concern; contaminated areas around Chernobyl, Fukushima, Los Alamos, and the Nevada Nuclear Test Site have all experienced wildfires.

Three hundred sixty samples of soil, dust and ash were collected in the immediate aftermath of the Los Angeles (CA, USA) Woolsey fire in 2018.

Radioactive contamination from the partially-burned former Santa Susanna nuclear research facility was found in the fire zone.

A limited number of widely scattered locations had evidence of radioactive microparticles originating at the research facility.

X-ray data showed that ashes from the fire could spread site contaminants to distant, but widely spaced, locations.


In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire burned north of Los Angeles, CA, USA, potentially remobilizing radioactive contaminants at the former Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a shuttered nuclear research facility contaminated by chemical and radiochemical releases. Wildfire in radiologically contaminated zones is a global concern; contaminated areas around Chernobyl, Fukushima, Los Alamos, and the Nevada Nuclear Test Site have all experienced wildfires. Three weeks after the Woolsey Fire was controlled, sampling of dusts, ashes, and surface soils (n = 360) began and were analyzed by alpha- and beta-radiation counting. Samples were collected up to a 16 km radius from the perimeter of the laboratory. Controls and samples with activities 1σ greater than background were also examined by alpha and/or gamma spectroscopy or Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis. Of the 360 samples collected, 97% showed activities at or close to site-specific background levels. However, offsite samples collected in publicly-accessible areas nearest to the SSFL site perimeter had the highest alpha-emitting radionuclides radium, thorium, and uranium activities, indicating site-related radioactive material has escaped the confines of the laboratory. 

In two geographically-separated locations, one as far away as 15 km, radioactive microparticles containing percent-concentrations of thorium were detected in ashes and dusts that were likely related to deposition from the Woolsey fire. These offsite radioactive microparticles were colocated with alpha and beta activity maxima. Data did not support a finding of widespread deposition of radioactive particles. However, two radioactive deposition hotspots and significant offsite contamination were detected near the site perimeter……………………………

4. Conclusions

A significant majority of samples (97% of 360 samples) collected in the study zone registered radioactivity levels that matched existing area background levels. Nevertheless, some ashes and dusts collected from the Woolsey Fire zone in the fire’s immediate aftermath contained high activities of radioactive isotopes associated with the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL). The data show that Woolsey Fire ash did, in fact, spread SSFL-related radioactive microparticles, and the impacts were confined to areas closest to SSFL and at least three other scattered locations in the greater Simi Valley area. Alpha and beta counting, high-resolution alpha and gamma spectroscopy, and X-ray microanalysis using SEM/EDS confirmed the presence of radioactive microparticles in the Woolsey Fire-related ashes and dusts.

Most of the fire-impacted samples found near the SSFL site’s perimeter were on lands accessible to the public. There were, however, scattered localized areas of increased radioactivity due to the presence of radioactive microparticles in ash and recently-settled dusts collected just after the Woolsey fire. These radioactive outliers were found in Thousand Oaks, CA, and Simi Valley, CA, about 15 and 5 km distant from SSFL, respectively. The Thousand Oaks samples had alpha count rates up to 19 times background, and X-ray spectroscopy (SEM) identified alpha-emitting thorium as the source of this excess radioactivity. Excessive alpha radiation in small particles is of particular interest because of the relatively high risk of inhalation-related long-term biological damage from internal alpha emitters compared to external radiation.

The nuclides identified as the sources of excess radioactivity in impacted samples were predominately isotopes of radium, uranium, and thorium. These have naturally-occurring sources, but these isotopes are also contaminants of concern at SSFL and were detected at generally increasing activities as the distance from SSFL decreased. In addition, the number of radioactive microparticles per gram of particulate matter also increased strongly with decreasing distance from SSFL. These data demonstrate that fire and/or other processes have spread SSFL contamination beyond the facility boundary………..