The End Of All Crossroads

Where the TAXI makes a stop, to ponder upon which road mayhap be true

Tag: climate

Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The US

“Evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations.”

Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Proliferation (Click image for Article page)

About this video

While traveling in Japan several weeks ago, Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen took soil samples in Tokyo public parks, playgrounds, and rooftop gardens. All the samples would be considered nuclear waste if found here in the US. This level of contamination is currently being discovered throughout Japan. At the US NRC Regulatory Information Conference in Washington, DC March 13 to March 15, the NRC’s Chairman, Dr. Gregory Jaczko emphasized his concern that the NRC and the nuclear industry presently do not consider the costs of mass evacuations and radioactive contamination in their cost benefit analysis used to license nuclear power plants. Furthermore, Fairewinds believes that evacuation costs near a US nuclear plant could easily exceed one trillion dollars and contaminated land would be uninhabitable for generations.

[BEGIN: RIC Conference Footage]

NRC Chairman Jaczko: The events at Fukushima reinforce that any nuclear accident with public health and safety or environmental consequences of that magnitude, is inherently unacceptable. But we focussed on the radiological consequences of this event. I believe we cannot ignore the large social and economic consequences such an event poses to any country with a nuclear facility that deals with such a crisis.

In Japan, more than 90,000 people remain displaced from their homes and land, with some having no prospect for a return to their previous lifestyle in the foreseeable future. While not easy to characterize, these are significant hardships on these people and they are inherently unacceptable. So as we look to the future and we look in a proactive way, we ultimately will have to address the issue of how do we deal with nuclear events that lead to significant land contamination. And displacement, perhaps permanently, of people from their homes and their livelihoods and their communities.

[END: RIC Conference Footage]

Arnie Gundersen: What you have just heard was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s chairman, Gregory Jaczko, saying that the NRC does not take in to account mass evacuations and people not getting back on their land for centuries when it does a cost benefit analysis as to whether or not a nuclear plant should be licensed.

I am Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds and today I am at the Regulatory Information Conference put on by the NRC in Washington D.C.

So today, I am in Washington D.C. Couple of weeks ago though, I was in Tokyo and when I was in Tokyo, I took some samples. Now, I did not look for the highest radiation spot. I just went around with five plastic bags and when I found an area, I just scooped up some dirt and put it in a bag. One of those samples was from a crack in the sidewalk. Another one of those samples was from a children’s playground that had been previously decontaminated. Another sample had come from some moss on the side of the road. Another sample came from the roof of an office building that I was at. And the last sample was right across the street from the main judicial center in downtown Tokyo. I brought those samples back, declared them through Customs, and sent them to the lab. And the lab determined that ALL of them would be qualified as radioactive waste here in the United States and would have to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of.

Now think about the ramifications for the nation’s capital, whether it is Tokyo or the United States. How would you like it if you went to pick your flowers and were kneeling in radioactive waste? That is what is happening in Tokyo now. And I think that is the point that Chairman Jaczko was trying to make. When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does it’s cost benefit analyses now, it does not take into account the cost to society if you have to evacuate for generations or if you have to move 100,000 people, perhaps forever.

There is a hundred miles between us and a dozen nuclear power plants here in Washington D.C. Fukushima was almost 200 miles away from Tokyo, and yet Tokyo soil in some places, the ones I just happened to find, would qualify as radioactive waste here in the United States.

How would we feel if our nation’s capital were contaminated to that degree? So I agree with Chairman Jaczko, new nukes and old nukes that are being re-licensed should include as a cost in their analysis what we have learned to be happening in Tokyo and in Japan.

Thank you very much and I will keep you informed.

24 Mar 2012


Study: Massive volcanic eruption in the cards for Japan

“Japan should brace for a catastrophic volcanic eruption at some point, say experts, citing a massive buildup of magma at many of the nation’s 110 active volcanoes.”


December 03, 2012
By TAIRIKU KUROSAWA/ Senior Staff Writer

The last particularly serious eruption in Japan occurred in 1914, when Mount Sakurajima in southern Kagoshima Prefecture blew its top.

According to study by volcanologists, Japan, which lies on the Pacific Rim of Fire, has been shaken by more than 1,000 volcanic eruptions over the past 2,000 years.
“The possibility of a major eruption in the future is real,” said Yoichi Nakamura, a professor of volcanology at Utsunomiya University who has been analyzing volcanic eruptions with a team of researchers.

To be classified as active, a volcano must have erupted within the past 10,000 years or still be spewing gases, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The active volcanoes include sites in the disputed Northern Territories off northeastern Hokkaido as well as undersea volcanoes.

Of the 110 active volcanoes, the agency monitors activity of the 47 around the clock to detect signs of an imminent eruption.

When offshore Mount Sakurajima erupted, it spewed out so much lava that it created a land bridge with the Osumi Peninsula. Volcanic ash even fell on eastern Japan.

The researchers said seismic activity surged at 20 active volcanoes around Japan, including Mount Fuji, after the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck last year.

It was one of the most powerful earthquakes on record. It struck with such force that the Japanese land mass shifted.

Over the past century, volcanic eruptions around the world were apparently triggered by magnitude-9.0 or stronger earthquakes that struck several years earlier.

Nakamura also is involved with the nonprofit Vocanological Society of Japan. He said the study was intended to help local officials prepare for a contingency resulting from a major eruption by assessing the risks posed by volcanoes around the country.

Particularly worrisome, he said, was a lack of data pointing to a reduction in magma. In the absence of a really huge eruption for a century suggested there was a massive buildup of magma, which at some point will inevitably spew from a volcano with tremendous force.

According to the study, 1,162 eruptions have occurred in Japan over the past 2,000 years. Of these, 52 were major events that spewed a massive volume of ash and lava over a short period. It amounts to a large-scale eruption occurring every 38 years.

Records show that three volcanic eruptions in the 17th century, including one at Mount Hokkaido-Komagadake in Hokkaido in 1640, spewed out the equivalent of 1 billion cubic meters of ash and lava.

Two similar eruptions occurred in the 18th century, one of which involved Mount Fuji in 1707.

The study showed that relatively large eruptions occurred 124 times.

There were 562 instances of medium-scale eruptions, or one every 3.6 years.

These included the eruption of Mount Unzen-Fugendake in Nagasaki Prefecture in 1991 and the eruption of Mount Usuzan in Hokkaido in 2000.

Of the 1,162 eruptions, the 47 volcanoes consistently monitored by the Japan Meteorological Agency represent nearly 90 percent of the activity, or 1,012 of those events.

Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is the most active volcano with 167 recorded eruptions, followed by Mount Asama straddling Nagano and Gunma prefectures, at 124; Mount Sakurajima, at 91; Mount Izu-Oshima in Tokyo, at 77; and Mount Kirishima straddling Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures, at 70.

Mount Fuji has erupted 38 times.
By TAIRIKU KUROSAWA/ Senior Staff Writer



Lead-proton collisions yield surprising results

Unexpected data from the Large Hadron Collider suggest the collisions may be producing a new type of matter.
Anne Trafton, MIT News Office

Collisions between protons and lead ions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have produced surprising behavior in some of the particles created by the collisions. The new observation suggests the collisions may have produced a new type of matter known as color-glass condensate.

When beams of particles crash into each other at high speeds, the collisions yield hundreds of new particles, most of which fly away from the collision point at close to the speed of light. However, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) team at the LHC found that in a sample of 2 million lead-proton collisions, some pairs of particles flew away from each other with their respective directions correlated.

“Somehow they fly at the same direction even though it’s not clear how they can communicate their direction with one another. That has surprised many people, including us,” says MIT physics professor Gunther Roland, whose group led the analysis of the collision data along with Wei Li, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor at Rice University.

A paper describing the unexpected findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Physical Review B and is now available on arXiv.

The MIT heavy-ion group, which includes Roland and MIT physics professors Bolek Wyslouch and Wit Busza, saw the same distinctive pattern in proton-proton collisions about two years ago. The same flight pattern is also seen when ions of lead or other heavy metals, such as gold and copper, collide with each other.

Those heavy-ion collisions produce a wave of quark gluon plasma, the hot soup of particles that existed for the first few millionths of a second after the Big Bang. In the collider, this wave sweeps some of the resulting particles in the same direction, accounting for the correlation in their flight paths.

It has been theorized that proton-proton collisions may produce a liquid-like wave of gluons, known as color-glass condensate. This dense swarm of gluons may also produce the unusual collision pattern seen in proton-lead collisions, says Raju Venugopalan, a senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, who was not involved in the current research.

Venugopalan and his former student Kevin Dusling theorized the existence of color-glass condensate shortly before the particle direction correlation was seen in proton-proton collisions. While protons at normal energy levels consist of three quarks, they tend to gain an accompanying cluster of gluons at higher energy levels. These gluons exist as both particles and waves, and their wave functions can be correlated with each other. This “quantum entanglement” explains how the particles that fly away from the collision can share information such as direction of flight path, Venugopalan says.

The correlation is “a very tiny effect, but it’s pointing to something very fundamental about how quarks and gluons are arranged spatially within a proton,” he says.

The CMS researchers originally set out to use the lead-proton collisions as a “reference system” for comparison with lead-lead collisions.

“You don’t expect quark gluon plasma effects” with lead-proton collisions, Roland says. “It was supposed to be sort of a reference run — a run in which you can study background effects and then subtract them from the effects that you see in lead-lead collisions.”

That run lasted only four hours, but in January, the CMS collaboration plans to do several weeks of lead-proton collisions, which should allow them to establish whether the collisions really are producing a liquid, Roland says. This should help narrow down the possible explanations and determine if the effects seen in proton-proton, lead-proton and lead-lead collisions are related.



A proton collides with a lead nucleus, sending a shower of particles through the CMS detector.
Image: CERN

Lava Enters Ocean from Puʻu ʻŌʻō

November 26th, 2012
By Wendy Osher

A lava flow from the Kīlauea Volcano’s Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent entered the ocean at around 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The spectacle drew a number of visitors to the area for tours over the weekend.

The activity came a day after a small earthquake, measuring 4.3 occurred at the Lōʻihi Seamount.

Lō’ihi is an active volcano situated on the sea floor about 19 miles from the south shoreline of Hawai’i Island.

Despite being felt island-wide officials with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say there were no observable affects on other volcanoes.

The HVO notes that the ongoing eruption of Puʻu ʻŌʻō–Kupaianaha at Kīlauea began in January 1983.

Since then, lava flows have destroyed 213 structures, and resurfaced 9 miles of highway, covering it with as much as 115 feet of lava. A flow in mid-2010 and early 2011, reached the Kalapana Gardens subdivision, destroying three homes, according to the HVO.


SOURCE: Maui Nowʻu-ʻoʻo/

US East Coast Faces Variety of Tsunami Threats

Although the risk is small, tsunamis are possible on the East Coast of the United States from a variety of sources, according to new research.

Artistic impression

And as Hurricane Sandy showed, the region is completely unprepared for a major influx of water, said U.S. Geological Survey researcher Uri ten Brink.

The most likely source for an East Coast tsunami would be an underwater avalanche along the continental slope, according to research presented by ten Brink and others earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Charlotte, N.C. Ten Brink also outlined several other possible sources of tsunamis, including earthquakes and even collapsing volcanoes.


Underwater avalanches

An offshore earthquake of magnitude 4.5 or above could cause submarine avalanches and create dangerous tsunamis with waves higher than 26 feet (8 meters), ten Brink told OurAmazingPlanet. Underwater canyons and bays could focus these waves and make them even bigger.

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake off the southern coast of Newfoundland in 1929 caused a large underwater landslide, creating a large wave that rushed ashore and killed 28 people on the island, ten Brink said. The waves were up to 26 feet high until some reached narrow inlets, where they grew to 43 feet (13 m), he said.

While the tsunami was catastrophic for Newfoundland, it created only small waves for most of the U.S. coast and didn’t cause any fatalities there. That’s typical of tsunamis from submarine landslides: They tend to be large for nearby areas but quickly taper off, ten Brink said.

While this is the only example of a tsunami near the East Coast in recorded history, there are plenty of areas along the continental slope — where the North American continent ends and drops into the Atlantic Ocean basin — at risk for these landslides, ten Brink said. [Natural Disasters: Top 10 US Threats]

Ten Brink and his colleagues are currently taking core samples of sediment from the submarine canyons along the continental slope, to find evidence of past landslides and how often landslides occur, he said. His team has been working for more than five years to map these submarine canyons with sonar to highlight areas most at risk of landslides, he added.


The Puerto Rico trench

The movement of tectonic plates beneath the ocean can create waves that travel much farther than those caused by submarine landslides, because they involve the movement of a much larger volume of water, with longer waves that don’t quickly dissipate, ten Brink said. The most dangerous earthquakes are those at subduction zones, where one plate dives beneath another.

The deepest parts of the ocean are found in trenches—at more than 35,000 feet (nearly 11,000 meters), Challenger Deep is a part of the Mariana Trench, where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the Philippine Plate. – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (click to page)

While the most infamous subduction zones are found around the Pacific Ring of Fire — such as the one that set off the massive 2011 Japan tsunami — there is indeed a subduction zone capable of creating tsunamis near the East Coast. In the northeast Caribbean, the area called the Puerto Rico trench features a subduction zone.

When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit, ten Brinks’ group received funding from the U.S. government to study the tsunami potential of the Puerto Rico trench. Although its work is still ongoing, his group has found that much of the fault doesn’t appear capable of creating an earthquake and tsunami large enough to cause big problems for the East Coast. But a tsunami originating there could cause significant destruction in the Caribbean. [Album: Monster Waves]

University of Puerto Rico researcher Zamara Fuentes, who isn’t involved in ten Brinks’ research, said one quake in this region in 1918 created a tsunami that killed 116 people on Puerto Rico. Fuentes studies sediment cores around the Caribbean to look for evidence of past tsunamis. Based on historical records, the USGS says 27 tsunamis in the Caribbean have caused fatalities and extensive damage since the 16th century.


Risks across the Atlantic

Another possible source for East Coast tsunamis is the Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault, off the coast of Portugal. One massive earthquake along this fault in 1755 destroyed most of Lisbon and created a tsunami recorded as far away as Brazil. It was barely noticed on the East Coast, however, ten Brink said. His group has created computer models that suggest underwater mountains west of Portugal helped reduce the impact of this tsunami by slowing the waves and disrupting their movement— and they could do the same thing in the future.

The nearby Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, also present a possible hazard. One large volcano on the island of La Palma, called Cumbre Vieja, could erupt, collapse and create a large tsunami capable of reaching the East Coast. A 2001 study suggested this series of events could send a 70-foot (21 m) wave crashing into the East Coast. But ten Brink said that study hasn’t held up to subsequent review, and that the wave would be unlikely to exceed several feet in height by the time it reached North America. “I don’t see it as a credible threat,” he said.

The last possible tsunami source is a slow-moving fault north of Cuba, which has caused earthquakes in the past and possibly could create a tsunami that affected Florida and the Gulf Coast. Due to the current political situation, neither Cuban nor American researchers can conduct research in the area, he said.

To get a good idea of how often tsunamis from this or any source are likely to strike the East Coast in the future, ten Brink and others are trying to peer back in time — but much remains to be discovered. “There are more questions than answers at this point,” ten Brink said.