An enormous "spike" in radiation which the EPA confirms leaked on May 5 from the Hanford Nuclear Waste Facility in Washington state has reached Chicago.
On May 5, the US Environmental Protection Agency confirmed an enormous "spike" in radiation was emitted from the Hanford Nuclear Waste Facility outside of Richland, WA. At least one underground tank holding lethal Plutonium waste has been found to be leaking and as crews undertake efforts to pump out the leaked material, open hatches release intense radiation into the air. The EPA released this chart from their national "RadNET" radiation monitoring system:
As the chart above shows, on May 5, the EPA radiation detector in Richland, WA, just outside the Hanford Nuclear Waste Facility, showed a sudden and dramatic spike from about 210 Counts-Per-Minute (CPM) to over 405 CPM. A hatch was opened around the leaking underground tank, leaked nuclear waste was being pumped-out, then the hatch was closed. It seems quite clear what came out of the hatch when it was opened!
It is about 1,930 miles from Richland, WA to Chicago, IL.
Prevailing wind patterns in the United States travel from west to east and today, about five days later, radiation detectors in and around Chicago picked up sudden and dramatic increases in airborne radiation!
The reporting system shows Dark Red colored Radiation symbols in the area affected:
The image below explains what the colors mean on the radiation symbols:
As of the publication if this story Chicago, IL Aurora, IL and Milwaukee, WI are at RadCON-4 - Concern/Watch. Madison, WI, Grand Rapids, MI and Fort Wayne, IN are all now at RadCON-3 - Elevated. The issue right now is that none of these locations is showing any ongoing drop in radiation. They're all showing increases. . . slow increases, but increases nonetheless.
According to the privately-funded Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center (paid subscriber area) the "typical" 3 month average radiation level in and around Chicago is 169 Counts-Per-Minute (CPM) of Gamma Radiation in the 600-800 kev range. Right now, May 10, 2016 at 8:30 PM eastern US time (7:30 PM Chicago time) that level has nearly DOUBLED, rising to 293 CPM and it is still rising. The chart below, from the EPA RadNET shows the radiation coming-in and still rising:
According to Nuke Professional, the CPM levels matter in terms of our health as follows:
Radiation levels at the Hanford, Washington nuclear waste site have spiked to “elevated risk” after thousands of gallons of toxic waste leaked in April. The site occasionally “burps” radiation, which now reached levels requiring evacuation.
The recent readings from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have revealed that a sharp spike in the radiation level had been registered in Richland on the morning of May 5.
We received this from a follower 4 days ago -
EPA measurements of radiation this morning in Richland, WA - next to #Hanfordpic.twitter.com/YCX3rswU9e
— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@Yaro_RT) May 6, 2016
Radiation Protection - Iodine and Pectin - Fukushima
The readings show the random jump when the toxic fume rates briefly reached around 410 CPM [counts per minute]. It equals to around 4 microsieverts (uSv) per hour, a common measurement of radioactivity. To put this into perspective, the single lifetime human dose should be between 0.71 uSv/hour and a maximum of 5.7 uSv/hour, according to Radiation Survival.
Speaking of public health, levels between 2 uSv/hour and 5 uSv/hour are considered “elevated risk” which requires taking “safety precautions” and relocating “as soon as possible.”
Long-term exposure to radiation is required to really cause serious harm, as it happened in the infamous cases of Chernobyl or Fukushima.
Yes, it was a short spike. But it still happened. And locals in Tri-Cities told me - i quote - that #Hanford sporadically "burps" radiation
— Alexey Yaroshevsky (@Yaro_RT) May 6, 2016
As of last Friday afternoon, there were no media reports suggesting that an evacuation or other measures and guidance have been ordered for Richland.
Alexey Yaroshevsky has spoken to area residents, who told him that the Hanford Nuclear Reservation “burps radiation" and that this registered spike might have been one of them.
It is unclear though, how often these “burps” strike, or for how long they have been happening already.
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The most recent radiation spike comes less than a month after a massive leak was first detected at the nuclear facility’s AY-102 double-shell tank, on April 17.
The Washington state Department of Ecology said then that there was “no indication of waste leaking into the environment or risk to the public at this time.” It added that the leak was an “anticipated” outcome of an ongoing effort to empty the tank. (Our Comment: Gee, it was "anticipated?" Did it ever occur to these public servants to tell the public?)
In general, the department considers Hanford “safe”, saying that the waste there is contained.
“It isn’t accessible to the public, and employees who perform cleanup work receive specialized training and wear protective gear,” the DoE said.
‘I thought I was dying’: Ex-Hanford worker gravely ill after inhaling toxic fumes [VIDEO] https://t.co/kP6MkAxFRppic.twitter.com/Un35Af6qkM
— RT America (@RT_America) May 6, 2016
The tank originally held some 800,000 gallons of waste, and has been known to experience minor leakage since 2011. At the time, this fact did not merit much attention from the local authorities. The government contractor managing the tanks, Washington River Protection Solutions, did not acknowledge the problem until 2012.
“It makes me sad that they didn’t believe me that there was a problem in 2011,” Mike Geffre, who detected the leak in 2011, told KING-TV. “I wish they would have listened to me and reacted faster. Maybe none of this would be happening now. It’s an example of a culture at Hanford of ‘We don’t have problems here. We’re doing just fine.’ Which is a total lie.”
Hanford is located on the Columbia River in eastern Washington, near the border with Oregon. Built during World War Two as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the nuclear bomb, it still contains roughly 53 million gallons – over 2,600 rail cars – worth of high-level nuclear waste, left from the production of plutonium for the US nuclear weapons program.
Since 1989, the only work at the Hanford Site has been related to cleaning up the waste left behind.
Last year, Hanford started moving radioactive waste from single-shelled tanks into double-shelled ones, which are supposedly safer. However, this turned out to be not as safe for the workers.
“When they move that waste, they have a lot more vapors coming out from the stacks. The wind was blowing toward me from that stack. That changed my life and hurt my lungs,” Seth Ellingsworth, who became seriously ill from the fumes, told SuperStation95. “It kept getting worse and worse.”
According to officials at Hanford, 42 workers were evaluated for vapor exposure after the leakage. In total, 31 people have reported symptoms, while 11 requested evaluations as a precaution. They have all been cleared to return to work, despite obvious health risks.
Despite the magnitude of the problem, the incident has largely gone unreported in the national media, leaving it up to local news outlets.
NO NEED TO PANIC - YET
Right now, there is no reason whatsoever to panic or take any drastic action. There is absolutely no need to evacuate, but there IS a need to monitor this situation over the next day or so.
If levels continue to rise, citizens may wish to stay indoors, or keep windows closed, or perhaps even wear an N-95 or N-100 filter mask.
Those who are interested in tracking these levels themselves, can do so via the EPA RadNET and via the Nuclear Emergency Tracking Center. Bear in-mind however, that the FREE area of the NETC site only reports Beta radiation. To get the Gamma radiation, (the really nasty stuff) they require a subscription, but the EPA does not. Those using the EPA site should look for Radiation Category 5 when viewing Chicago (or other city) radiation levels.
(And maybe ask why your local media doesn't tell you about this, but a radio station out in New York City DOES?) [Hint: Many mass-media outlets rely on government for stories . . . and a story like this is one that the government definitely does NOT want publicized!]