Radiation Found at Fire Scene

Radiation Found at Fire Scene

Last Update: 10/27 9:46 pm
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Firefighters are trained to deal with fire, smoke, and all kinds of hazards.  But it’s not everyday they run across radioactive material.  That’s what happened around 9:00 this morning at La Farge Cement in the 2600 block of North 145th East Avenue.  There was little damage, as Catoosa and Tulsa firefighters quickly put  the fire out.

But as FOX 23’s Douglas Clark found out, concerns among neighbors are still smouldering.

The chemical is called Cesium 137, a radioactive element.  Experts say the good news is that it is not overly dangerous if properly contained.  But people who live near this plant want reassurance that they’re not living next to a potential danger.

A preliminary investigation revealed that the fire likely started as a result of the mechanical failure of a conveyor belt.  That conveyor belt we’re told is just one foot away from where radioactive chemical Cesium 137 is stored.

“It concerns me if something leaked or if there was some danger, I’d want to know about it,” says neighbor Jeanne West.

So how dangerous is Cesium to people who live close by?

“The dangers with Cesium are probably not that dramatic,” says TU Chemistry Professor Bob Howard.  He says it’s usually stored in solid-form as salt.  That keeps it fairly tame.  But if firefighters had gotten it wet while putting out the fire, it could have seeped through cracks in the floor and then into the soil.

“Water goes where it wants to go and a solid you can sweep up and contain pretty well,” says Howard.

Professor Howard also says Cesium 137 can also give off X-rays, a form of radiation.  Plant officials say in this case, the Cesium is stored in lead casing, which protects plant workers from radiation and keeps it fire-proof.

“Had the fire even reached this source, which it did not, these devices have several safeguards built into them that prevent firefighters from being exposed,” says plant manager Jim Bachmann.

Plant officials say Cesium is used in the process of monitoring the conveyer system.  While anything that is radioactive may sound scary, experts say in this case, neither firefighters nor the public was ever in danger.

“It was in a simple form, easy to contain, sounds like it was a small incident, so it shouldn’t be a problem,” says Professor Howard.

Plant officials sent the nuclear safety supervisor to the area with a radiological measurement device.  Inspection of the device that uses the Cesium did not reveal any damage.  Tulsa fire hazmat crews assisted in the evaluation of the situation and says all radiation levels were within normal limits.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration also responded to the scene and confirmed plant personnel handled the situation safely and appropriately.



Researchers Discover Atomic Bomb Effect Results in Adult-onset Thyroid Cancer

Researchers Discover Atomic Bomb Effect Results in Adult-onset Thyroid Cancer


Radiation from the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, likely rearranged chromosomes in some survivors who later developed papillary thyroid cancer as adults, according to Japanese researchers.

Newswise — Radiation from the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, likely rearranged chromosomes in some survivors who later developed papillary thyroid cancer as adults, according to Japanese researchers.

In the September 1, 2008, issue of Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, the scientists report that subjects who lived close to the blast sites, were comparably young at the time, and developed the cancer quickly once they reached adulthood, were likely to have a chromosomal rearrangement known as RET/PTC that is not very frequent in adults who develop the disease.

“Recent in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that a single genetic event in the MAP kinase-signaling pathway may be sufficient for thyroid cell transformation and tumor development,” said the study’s lead author, Kiyohiro Hamatani, Ph.D., laboratory chief, Department of Radiobiology and Molecular Epidemiology at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) in Hiroshima.

“Thyroid cancer is associated with exposure to external or internal ionizing radiation.Elucidation of mechanisms of radiation-induced cancer in humans, especially early steps and pathways, has potential implications for epidemiological risk analyses, early clinical diagnosis, and chemopreventive interventions,” Hamatani said.

He adds that there are several irradiated populations worldwide that have been shown to have an increase in thyroid cancer, and that children exposed to radioactive fallout from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident who develop papillary thyroid cancer have also been found to have RET/PTC rearrangements, although they are slightly different.

This study is part of the foundation’s long running follow-up research on 120,000 atomic bomb survivors. During 1958 to 1998, the study found about 470 thyroid cancer cases of which the estimated number of excess cases attributable to radiation is 63. About 90 percent of thyroid cancer among the survivors is of the papillary type.

Hamatani and colleagues from across Japan made a comparison between adult-onset papillary thyroid cancers with RET/PTC rearrangements and those with a BRAF mutation. More than 70 percent of adult onset papillary thyroid cancer in non-exposed patients is associated with mutations in the BRAF gene.

The researchers looked at the genetic profile of cancer patients in the RERF’s follow-up study–50 patients who were exposed to atomic bomb radiation and 21 patients who were not. Three factors were found to be independently associated with the development of adult-onset papillary thyroid cancer with RET/PTC rearrangements. They were greater radiation dose, shorter time elapsed since radiation exposure, and younger age at the time of the bombings, Hamatani says.

“That means that a younger person living close to the bombing site would be more likely to have adult onset thyroid cancer having RET/PTC rearrangements,” he said. “This is the first time this has been shown.”

The findings also suggest that in childhood papillary thyroid cancer RET/PTC rearrangements may be much less clearly associated with radiation exposure, compared with adult-onset cancer, because RET/PTC rearrangements are frequent in childhood papillary thyroid cancer patients regardless of history of radiation exposure.

The researchers do not know exactly how radiation is involved in the occurrence of RET/PTC rearrangements. “It could be either by direct DNA damage or by other pathways such as a result of radiation-induced genomic instability,” Hamatani said.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 28,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and 80 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Its most recent publication and its sixth major journal, Cancer Prevention Research, is dedicated exclusively to cancer prevention, from preclinical research to clinical trials. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

2008 Newswise

Yankee workers evacuated

Yankee workers evacuated
Radiation levels rise in reactor building
August 27, 2008

VERNON -— About a dozen workers in the reactor building at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant were evacuated Tuesday around noon because of a doubling of radiation levels in a portion of the plant, Entergy officials said late Tuesday.

The higher radiation levels were the result of human error, they said, in changing a filter in the reactor’s cooling system.

There were no radioactive releases to the environment and the problem did not affect the operation of the plant nor its power production, according to Robert Williams, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear.

Williams said the worker failed to clean all the water off a demineralization filter, and the extra water in the reactor’s cooling system created additional nitrogen, which became radioactive.

Williams said the air is used to remove the resin from the filter, and then the air itself is removed.

“When that air gets introduced into the reactor, the oxygen is irradiated and becomes a radioactive form of nitrogen,” Williams said.

Williams said the nitrogen gas decayed to “negligible levels” within seconds.

The workers were kept out of the reactor building for about two hours. He said the problem was under investigation.

He said Entergy Nuclear notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Vermont Department of Emergency Management as a courtesy.

Williams said that control room operators noticed the doubling of radiation levels in the main steam line in the reactor building.

He said the demineralization filter is cleaned and its filter resins changed every month. He said he could not remember another time when there was a problem with the demineralization filter, although, he said, the problem had probably occurred at Yankee at some time in its 36-year history.

Stephen Wark, spokesman for the Department of Public Service, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. Entergy Nuclear notified the public about the problem shortly before 5 p.m.

Contact Susan Smallheer at susan.smallheer@rutlandherald.com.

Radiation warning system urged

Radiation warning system urged

BAHRAIN and other GCC countries are being urged to instal special nuclear radiation detectors and early-warning systems.

They should also prepare themselves for any unexpected incident by establishing their own research centres and training their national forces in the field of nuclear radiation emergencies, said Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (Memac) director Captain Abdul Monem Al Janahi.

He said countries must join international conventions and protocols besides conducting research and exchanging information, technology and expertise, to be ready for emergencies.

A set of regional co-operation and co-ordination agreements should also be established.

Memac’s call follows an announcement that Bahrain and other countries in the region are planning to pursue nuclear energy.

In May, Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) chairman Dr Abdulhussain Mirza announced that Bahrain was planning to build a nuclear power plant to meet future energy needs, but it would take at least a decade to complete.

Last October, His Majesty King Hamad revealed that Bahrain was working with its GCC neighbours to introduce nuclear energy to benefit the economy and citizens and had joined the Inter-national Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“There are several early-warning systems and detectors in some of our member states and they are very effective precaution tools,” Capt Al Janahi told the GDN.

“The Kuwait North Site Station, for example, was able to detect the Chernobyl incident in spite of the long distance between Kuwait and Ukraine.

“So such systems are of high importance for the region, especially since we have got two ‘hot spots’ very close to our region: the Israeli and Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Capt Al Janahi said it was imperative that the GCC put measures in place to detect radioactive leakage, because by its nature it was very difficult to see or detect immediately.

He said once radiation was leaked the only way a country could protect itself was to evacuate the affected area.

“Radioactivity leakage will cause very severe damage to health as well as to the environment, making the polluted area impossible to live in for hundreds of years,” he said.

“We have the example of Chernobyl incident. Usually, when the leakage starts, it will spread gradually to a wide range and nothing will help to control and limit its impact.

“The only means is to stop the source of the leakage. Once the radiation is leaked, the only means for the victim state to protect itself is evacuation of the area.”

Capt Al Janahi said radiation could also leak from submarines propelled by nuclear energy.

He said although these ships and submarines were well protected, there was always risk of leakage.

“Ships and submarines should be traced whenever they transit in the region,” he said.

“The countries in the region should be provided with early-warning systems and they should continuously monitor the location of the ships and submarines.

“Special harbours for ships and submarines propelled by radioactive energy should be established far away from urban areas.”

Capt Al Janahi said because the region was heading towards the usage of nuclear energy, the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) Council had instructed Memac to develop an action plan for emergency preparedness and response mechanism to address radiation challenges in the region in co-operation with the IAEA.

“This means a wide range of work is to be carried out in order to prepare such an action plan, including assessment of the present situation in the region and expectations for the future,” he said.

“The plan also involves monitoring and early-warning systems, training of national and regional cadres, setting up relevant regional and international agreements, and exchanging data and co-operation in cases of emergencies.”

It emerged on Tuesday that Bahrain may soon draw up a mass evacuation plan in the event of a nuclear disaster.

It is not on the list of five priorities for the national disaster plan currently being put together, but will be necessary in the future, said National Commission for Disaster Management executive office head Ahmed Hussain.

“Setting up underground bunkers, putting together an evacuation plan and educating the population on what to do in the event of a nuclear catastrophe, are all part of discussions which are now under way before the plan is finalised,” he said.

Mr Hussein was speaking at a Press conference following two days of deliberations at a national workshop on disaster risk reduction.

The five priority areas for Bahrain are health disaster, such as the spread of a disease like bird flu or SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome); an air crash; an oil spill in the sea; fires in high-rise buildings and natural calamities related to climate change.


Radiation leak is unacceptable

Radiation leak is unacceptable

Eight years ago I sent a letter to this column about Indian Point 2. At that time Consolidated Edison owned the plant, and there was a “small” leak of radioactive water for at least six months before the public was made aware. A crack in a steam generator caused radioactive water to leak at a rate of 75-90 gallons per minute.

In 2006, under a new owner, Entergy, radioactive strontium 90 and tritium were found in monitoring wells at the plant at levels well above what was/is allowed. Indian Point was the only plant in the nation leaking strontium 90, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Fast forward (again) to today. According to the front-page article in Wednesday’s paper, trace amounts of strontium 90 have been found in monitoring wells outside Indian Point’s property for the second time in less than a year. Now it is being blamed (possibly) on testing during the Cold War. As always, we are told there is no threat to public safety. But it does involve off-site water. Any radiation leak is unacceptable, and any radiation leak (no matter how small) is a threat to our safety.

Florence Cerbone


Anti-nuclear quote of the week.

“Every year Areva, the French conglomerate that handles reprocessing, dumps so much radioactive liquid into the Channel that, says Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “there are certain beaches where the effluent pipe is where you can get a suntan at night.””


What absolutely laughable, ridiculous nonsense. Hell, even Caldicott probably wouldn’t be that stupid. Lochbaum does know what a suntan is, and what causes it, right?