[ RadSafe ] Radioactive contamination of the ocean

Brennan, Mike (DOH) Mike.Brennan at DOH.WA.GOV
Tue Mar 29 17:57:01 CDT 2011

Of far, far greater environmental risk are the cars (5,000?  10,000?
More?) that were washed out to sea, and sit on the bottom within a
couple miles of shore.  Or the chemical contents of homes, shops,
warehouses, refineries, ships, etc., that were sucked out when the water
receded, and have either leaked into the ocean, or will over the coming
months and years as the containers fail.  

I agree with Jerry that the dilution capability is great (well short of
infinite, but still great), and that against the background of NORM in
the ocean what has come from the reactors is not significant.  In fact,
I hope they don't get so hung on contaminating the ocean that they don't
pump water out of the reactor buildings.  This frankly isn't time to
sweat amounts that would have been show-stoppers a month ago.

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu
[mailto:radsafe-bounces at health.phys.iit.edu] On Behalf Of Jerry Cohen
Sent: Monday, March 28, 2011 3:02 PM
To: The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) Mailing List
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] Radioactive contamination of the ocean

In todays news, we see alarming stories of radioactive contamination
found in 
ocean waters near Japan. In a previous post, I cited the tendency of
people to 
equate detectability with hazard, and our capability to readily detect 
radioactivity in miniscule concentrations. 
The capacity of the ocean to dilute any contaminant is almost infinite.
It can 
readily be calculated that any amount of radioactivity released to the
will be diluted to innocuous levels in a relatively short time. All of
nuclear waste conceivably produced by the most ambitious nuclear power 
production in the world would pose no significant health hazard if
dispersed in 
the world's oceans  compared to the natural radioactivity (U, Ra, K-40,
that nature has already placed in the ocean. Actually, as I have
discussed on radsafe, oceanic disposal is our best bet for disposal of 
all radioactive waste.
Unfortunately, politics and hysteria will always trump science.

Jerry Cohen
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