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Archive for May 12th, 2011

Fukushima NPP: “There must be a large leak”

Posted by feww on May 12, 2011

High levels of radiation detected near Fukushima Reactor 1

Water level in Reactor 1 reactor vessel has dropped 5 meters below operating level

TEPCO technicians at Fukushima Nuclear Plant discovered earlier today that water level in the Reactor 1 pressure vessel had dropped 5 meters below the designated operating level, or  more than one meter below the base of the uranium fuel rods, indicating a large volume of water was leaking into the containment building.

NRC schematic drawing of Containment Building and Basic Internals

“There must be a large leak,” Junichi Matsumoto, a senior manager at TEPCO told a news conference.

“The fuel pellets likely melted and fell, and in the process may have damaged […] the pressure vessel itself and created a hole.”

Fukushima prefecture officials have revealed that the radiation level rose to 1,015 mircrosieverts per hour on Saturday, NHK reported.

“One hour of exposure to this amount of radiation is equivalent to the permissible amount of radiation an ordinary person receives in one year. It is about twice the level that requires power companies to notify the government of an emergency situation.” Said the report.

[Note:  Single radiation dose of 2,000 millisieverts (200,000 millirems) and above causes serious illness. See also exposure list below.]

TEPCO raised the alarm, after noticing that the water in the pressure vessel had not risen despite pumping in 150 tons of of water daily to cool the reactor core.

The technicians  have pumped a total of about 10,400 tonnes of water into the reactor so far, a report said.

TEPCO says temperatures at the bottom of the containment building are between 100 and 120 degrees Celsius, suggesting that the damaged fuel rods have melted and fallen through the reactor vessel and into the bottom of the reactor building, where they are being cooled down for now.

Probability of a Nuclear Disaster by Country

The following probability figures are calculated by FIRE-EARTH on April 8, 2011

  • Japan (880)³
  • United States (865)
  • Taiwan (850)
  • Belgium, China, France, Finland, India,  South Korea, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Armenia, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania,  Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain,  Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico,  South Africa, Canada (810)
  • Germany, Sweden, Netherlands (800)
  • Switzerland  (750)


  1. The list represents a snapshot of events at the time of calculating the probabilities. Any forecast posted  here is subject to numerous variable factors.
  2. Figures in the bracket represent the probability of an incident occurring out of 1,000; the forecast duration is valid for the next 50  months.
  3. Probability includes a significant worsening of Fukushima nuclear disaster, and future quakes forecast for Japan.
  4. A nuclear incident is defined as a level 5 (Accident With Wider Consequences), or worse, on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). See below.
  5. Safety issues considered in compiling these lists include the age, number of units and capacity of nuclear reactors in each country/state, previous incidents, probability of damage from human-enhanced natural disasters, e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic activity, hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, wildfires, flooding… ]
  6. The  Blog’s knowledge concerning the extent to which the factors described in (3) might worsen during the forecast period greatly influences the forecast.

Half-life of some radioactive elements

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.]

  • Cesium-134 ~ 2  years
  • Cesium-137 ~ 30 years
  • Iodine-131 ~ 8 days
  • Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years
  • Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.]
  • Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days
  • Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years  [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.]
  • Uranium-234 ~  246,000 years
  • Uranium-235 ~ 703.8  million years
  • Uranium-238  ~ 4.468 billion years

What is a lethal dose of radiation from a single Exposure?

Studies of the 1945 atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki show that 100 percent of victims whose bodies were exposed to 600,000 millirems (6,000 mSv) died from radiation. About 50 percent of victims who received  450,000 millirems (4,500 mSv) of radiation also died.

(Note: Rem is a unit of ionizing radiation equal to the amount that produces the same damage to humans as one roentgen of high-voltage x-rays.  Source: MIT)

1 rem = 10 mSv  (1 Sv = 100 rem)

Background Radiation in millirems per year (mrem/yr)

  • Average background radiation (US):  300
  • Higher altitudes (eg. Denver): 400

“Safe Levels” of Radiation (U.S.)

Limits above natural background radiation levels (average 300 millirems per year) and medical radiation:

  • Occupation Limit: Maximum of 5,000  (the limit for a worker using radiation)
  • Average Natural Background: 300

[Note: Lifetime cumulative exposure should be limited to a person’s age multiplied by 1,000 millirems, e.g., a 70-year-old person, 70,000 millirems.]


  • Max single dose for an adult: 3,000
  • Annual total dose: 5,000

Under 18

  • Max single dose for a person aged under 18 years: 300 millirems (whole body equivalent)
  • Annual total exposure: 500

Fetal Exposure

  • Maximum limit for fetal exposure during gestation period:  50 millirems per month above background levels


  • Single Chest X-ray (the whole body equivalent): 2 millirem

Air Travel

  • Coast-to-coast US round trip flight: 12 millirems

Megaquake and Tsunami Death Toll

The latest figures released by the authorities put the number of dead at about  12,000 with 16,000 people still listed as missing.

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Mississippi River breaks flood record at Natchez

Posted by feww on May 12, 2011

Mississippi River Tops 58.65 feet (17,88m) at Natchez

America’s largest river to crest at  64feet (19.51m) on May 21

Having broken the previous record of 58.04 ft set on February 21, 1937, America’s largest river is expected to crest at a whopping 64feet (19.51m; flow rate of 2,380kcfs ) on May 21.

Kcfs: Thousand cubic feet per second – multiply by 28,317 to get liters per second

Historical Crests
(1) 58.04 ft on 02/21/1937
(2) 57.03 ft on 04/24/2008
(3) 56.70 ft on 05/13/1973
(4) 56.60 ft on 05/04/1927
(5) 56.30 ft on 03/26/1997
(6) 55.70 ft on 05/31/1983
(7) 55.30 ft on 04/26/1922
(8) 55.20 ft on 04/29/1945
(9) 54.60 ft on 04/23/1979
(10) 54.50 ft on 06/05/1929

Map of Mississippi River Basin. Source: University of Missouri

The Mississippi River Flooding Impact

So far the flooding has :

  • Forced tens of thousands of people along the river and its tributaries to  evacuate
  • Inundated dozens of river towns
  • Swamped about 3.5 million acres of farmland (at least 3 million acres in three states of  Arkansas  Mississippi, Tennessee)
  • Put in need of shelter tens of thousands of farm animals
  • Threatens  New Orleans and Baton Rouge (Morganza Spillway in Louisiana may have to be opened to relive some of the pressure)
  • Threatens to swamp more than 3 million acres of farm and wetlands in Louisiana

The flooding has also shut down  16 casinos in  Mississippi  (a silver lining?) threatening to swamp another two in Vicksburg, according to Mississippi Gaming Commission, where the river is expected to crest at 57.5ft (flow rate: 2,340kcfs) on May 19.

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Deadly Quake Hits Spanish Town

Posted by feww on May 12, 2011

Deadly earthquake strikes town in SE Spain, killing  a dozen people,  injuring many

A magnitude 5.2 quake struck about 6 km SW of the historic town of Lorca (pop 86,119)  in Spain’s Murcia region at 16:47 UTC  on May 11, killing at least a dozen people and injuring many more.

Earthquake Location Map

Click image to enlarge. Source: EMSC

The earthquake was epicentered at 37.65ºN, 1.76ºW and struck at a depth of  10 km, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) said. The mainshock was preceded by an M4.2 foreshock, and followed by at least a half dozen smaller aftershocks.

High Casualty figures

According to USGS the quake struck at a shallow depth of about 1km (0.6 mile), which could explain the high casualty figures.

Another reason may be the fact that the old part of the town, sections of which date back to the Bronze Age, houses historic churches, medieval walls and buildings, which are more prone to collapse than modern structure, reports said.

The deaths were caused by “cave-ins and falling debris,” the mayor of Lorca was reported as saying. “We’re trying to find out if there are people inside the collapsed houses.”

Other Earthquakes in Europe

About a dozen other shocks have struck

  • Madeira Islands, Portugal Region
  • Southern Italy
  • Central Turkey
  • The Aegean Sea
  • Southern Greece
  • Crete
  • Sicily

Raffaele Bendandi Earthquake Prediction

Many Romans fled the Eternal City yesterday (Wednesday) amid fears of a pending earthquake, ANSA news agency said.

In 1915 the late Italian watchmaker, carpenter and amateur seismologist Raffaele Bendandi (1893 – 1979) reportedly predicted that the “the big one” would strike Rome on May 11, 2011.

He believed that earthquakes are caused by planetary alignment in the solar system. The gravitational pull of the moon, sun and other planets caused movements in the earth’s crust, he thought.

A number of Internet prophets have since published much nonsense attributing each and every single quake that occur on this planet to planetary alignments.

FIRE-EARTH contacted one of these astrologers last month requesting a list of details and times of the alignments to establish any link to the strong, powerful and even mega quakes that have struck the planet in the last 10 years.

The said “prophet” responded by sending a list that excluded the timing and details of any alignment during which a significant quake measuring magnitude 6.0 or greater might have occurred.

Example from the list forwarded to FIRE-EARTH: “[Allegedly the alignment  of] Earth-Venus-Mars; Earth-Sun- Saturn; Jupiter-Earth-Mercury on October 1, 2010” caused a 7.8Mw quake to occur in Indonesia 24 days later on October 25, 2010 (!)


  1. In 2010 some 172 earthquakes measuring 6.0 to 7.9 struck the planet.
  2. The average strike rate for quakes measuring 7.0 to 7.9 was about one in 17 days in 2010 (21 quakes in 365 days).
  3. Data in Notes 1 and 2 above are provided by the USGS and may not be accurate due to political manipulation, but should be treated as ballpark figures.

Any Forecast?

FIRE-EARTH also asked the “astrologer seismologist” to provide a list of forecasts for any number of  earthquakes in the 1, 3 and 5 years that would be caused by planetary alignments.

The astrologer responded by saying that he was “too busy to do calculate [ planetary alignments.]”

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Earthquake History for May 12th

The largest and deadliest earthquake in 2008 killed about 69,200 people (18,400 others missing and presumed dead), and injured 375,000 more in the Chengdu-Lixian-Guangyuan area, China. “More than 45.5 million people in 10 provinces and regions were affected. At least 15 million people were evacuated from their homes and more than 5 million were left homeless. An estimated 5.36 million buildings collapsed and more than 21 million buildings were damaged in Sichuan and in parts of Chongqing, Gansu, Hubei, Shaanxi and Yunnan.” ~USGS

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