Wave of Radiation from Fukushima Will Be 10 Times Bigger than All of the Radiation from Nuclear Tests Combined

Putting Fukushima In Perspective

There was no background radioactive cesium before above-ground nuclear testing and nuclear accidents started.

Wikipedia provides some details on the distribution of cesium-137 due to human activities:

Small amounts of caesium-134 and caesium-137 were released into the environment during nearly all nuclear weapon tests and some nuclear accidents, most notably the Chernobyl disaster.


Caesium-137 is unique in that it is totally anthropogenic. Unlike most other radioisotopes, caesium-137 is not produced from its non-radioactive isotope, but from uranium. It did not occur in nature before nuclear weapons testing began. By observing the characteristic gamma rays emitted by this isotope, it is possible to determine whether the contents of a given sealed container were made before or after the advent of atomic bomb explosions. This procedure has been used by researchers to check the authenticity of certain rare wines, most notably the purported “Jefferson bottles”.

As the EPA notes:

Cesium-133 is the only naturally occurring isotope and is non-radioactive; all other isotopes, including cesium-137, are produced by human activity.

What people call “background” radiation is really the amount of radiation deposited into the environment within the last 100 years from nuclear tests and nuclear accidents (and naturally-occurring substances, such as radon).

2,053 nuclear tests occurred between 1945 and 1998:

Above-ground nuclear tests – which caused numerous cancers to the “downwinders” – were covered up by the American, French and other governments for decades. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

But the amount of radiation pumped out by Fukushima dwarfs the amount released by the nuclear tests.

As nuclear engineer and former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen notes, the wave of radioactive cesium from Fukushima which is going to hit the West Coast of North America will be 10 times greater than from the nuclear tests (starting at 55:00).

This graphic from Woods Hole in Massachusetts – one of the world’s top ocean science institutions – shows how much more cesium was dumped into the sea off Japan from Fukushima as compared to nuclear testing and Chernobyl:

(And Fukushima radiation has arrived on the West Coast years earlier than predicted.)

The Canadian government has confirmed in October that Fukushima radiation will exceed “levels higher than maximum fallout” from the nuclear tests.

The party line from the Japanese, Canadian and American governments are that these are safe levels of radiation.   Given that those countries have tried to ban investigative journalism and have tried to cover up the scope of the Fukushima disaster, people may want to investigate for ourselves.

For example, Gundersen notes that the U.S. government flew helicopters with special radiation testing equipment 90 days after the Fukushima meltdown happened.  The government said it was just doing a routine “background radiation” check, but that it was really measuring the amount of “hot particles” in the Seattle area (starting at 27:00). Hot particles are inhaled and become very dangerous “internal emitters”. The government then covered up the results on the basis of “national security”.

As the Washington Department of Health noted at the time:

A helicopter flying over some urban areas of King and Pierce counties will gather radiological readings July 11-28, 2011. [Seattle is in King County.] The U.S. Department of Energy’s Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measurement System will collect baseline levels of radioactive materials.


Some of the data may be withheld for national security purposes.

Similarly, the Department of Homeland Security and National Nuclear Security Administration sent low-flying helicopters over the San Francisco Bay Area in 2012 to test for radiation. But they have not released the results.

Indeed, residents of Seattle breathed in 5 hot particles each day in April of 2011 … a full 50% of what Tokyo residents were breathing at the time:

(the video is from June 2011.)

After all, the reactors at Fukushima literally exploded … and ejected cladding from the reactors and fuel particles. And see this.

Gundersen says that geiger counters don’t measure hot particles. Unless the government or nuclear scientists measure and share their data, we are in the dark as to what’s really going on.

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  • chris katko
  • wunsacon

    >> There was no background radioactive cesium before above-ground nuclear testing and nuclear accidents started.

    Without knowing what percentage of “background radiation” comes from human-made cesium, I don’t know how alarmed we should be. Thus, I hope you might answer two questions:

    1. By what percentage did human activity (all sources) increase the amount of “background radiation” (all isotopes)?

    2. Of that increase, how much can we attribute to Fukushima: (a) thus far? and (b) if the spent-fuel pools fail?

    • wunsacon

      It seems to me that the only GW contributor to respond to comments is Carl Herman. (I’ve never asked Carl a question. Still: thank you, Carl.) But, how ’bout it, GW? I’ve asked a couple of questions in the past. They went unanswered. (I forget what they were. Not really important anymore I suppose….Oh, now I remember…one of the questions was: since I dislike paypal, what’s a snail-mail address to which I can send a check?) Now, I’m asking these questions above. If not in the comments here, maybe you could address them in a subsequent post?

      Sure, I can research this information myself and eventually find the answers. But, that’s “eventually”. My core competencies don’t include “adverse effects of radiation on human physiology”. On this subject, you GW bloggers are way ahead of me. Realistically, I’m not going to “catch up” either.

  • jadan

    GW is doing a wonderful job on this issue. We do get potassium-40 from bananas, Brazil nuts, Lima beans, however. Isn’t that an isotope? There’s radium and radon gas in our environment, as well. Uranium 238 is present as well. To say that all isotopes in nature are anthropogenic is not completely accurate. But the point is clear. Our world came into our possession as a healthy place to be and we have made it hazardous. The Japanese people are descending into a condition of biological despair. They are a danger to themselves and others.

    • rollo bollo

      When the EPA says: “all other isotopes”, it means all other isotopes of Caesium are produced by human activity. So please put radium, potassium-40, polonium 210, and carbon-14 aside.

  • Tonto

    “Wave of Radiation from Fukushima Will Be 10 Times Bigger than All of the Radiation from Nuclear Tests Combined”

    And the number of Americans who will die from the wave of radiation will be many times the number of people who died when Pearl harbor was attacked. And yet the government of Barack Obama has done

    absolutely nothing but cover the lethal problem up for those at General Electric who are ultimately responsible for the most heinous of heinous crimes ever committed. This is an entire era that shall live in infamy.

    Eventually some will say, a bounty should be placed on the heads of those responsible, and those responsible for the cover up. That is how serious the peril really is.

    • gozounlimited

      You’re wearing off on us…… BooBooBaby

      Americans Have Little Faith In Scientists, Science Journalists: Poll

      How much faith do Americans have in scientists and science journalists? Not a whole lot, a new survey finds….. see here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/21/faith-in-scientists_n_4481487.html

    • Birther 2.0

      Thanks for nothing OBAMA!

      • L

        He has truly shown himself to be a faithful servant of the banks and mega corporations. But what did you expect? This is how you get into office in America. He knows which side his bread is buttered on and he knows the consequences of bucking the system if he were ever to think of doing so… so sad. It is pitiful in fact and more pitiful that we are so brainwashed that we have trouble seeing this.

  • Suzuki Hiroshi

    Wave of Radiation from Fukushima Will Be 10 Times Bigger than All of the Radiation from Nuclear Tests Combined
    Posted on December 22, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog

    Radioisotopes entered the ocean from atmospheric fallout and from water used to cool damaged reactors, which flushed into the ocean.

    The amount of radiation pumped out by Fukushima dwarfs the amount released by the nuclear tests.

    The amount of cesium-137 radioisotopes from the Fukushima disaster in surface ocean waters was 10000 times greater than amounts that entered the ocean from the Chernobyl accident or atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.

    The wave of radioactive cesium from Fukushima which is going to hit the West Coast of North America will be 10 times greater than from the nuclear tests.


    • nate

      This is what humanity gets for commiting their lives to war 🙁 I live in seattle and now im very worried. I got to move out.

  • gozounlimited

    Deviant Brown couldn’t have cared less….. he had a head start getting out of town (state) before the initial cesium hot spot hit Cali. Left to our own devices….not able to contact state or health authorities (they left the state too), during our critical face to face moment with cladding and fuel particles from exploding reactors, we suffered alone with little more than a suggestion from a pharmacist who may or may not have possessed iodine. Still to this day….. the Deviant is more interested in measuring CO2 than becquerels affecting food, water, and air. Realizing deviant Brown is running for president in 2016…. I would suggest that you consider whether another congenital liar/paranoid puss-whuccky is appropriate for leadership…..ANYWHERE!!!!!!

    • gozounlimited

      Another Deviant……..
      “We are in a race against time,” former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday night, in an interview with actor Harrison Ford.

      “We still live in a state of denial,” Clinton suggested, regarding the future impacts of climate change. “We see it, we (she) experience it, but we (she) have a great deal of difficulty in summoning the political will … to address it.” ….. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/17/hillary-clinton-climate-change_n_3285866.html


      Here Comes Elizabeth Warren……
      Elizabeth Warren Comes Down Hard Against Global Warming, Separates Herself From Hillary Clinton On Climate Change

      On Friday, December 20th, Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren finally separated herself clearly from former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (Koch Sucker) regarding the issue of climate change and global warming. Here is the story:

      Secretary of State Clinton, whose friend and former staffer Paul Elliot is a lobbyist for TransCanada, had worked behind the scenes to ease the way for commercial exploitation of this, the world’s highest-carbon-emitting oil, 53% of which oil is owned by America’s Koch Brothers.(Koch Industries owns 63% of the tar sands, and the Koch brothers own 86% of Koch Industries; Elaine Marshall, who is the widow of the son of the deceased Koch partner J. Howard Marshall, owns the remaining 14% of Koch Iindustries.)

      David Goldwyn, who “served as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs,” is yet another lobbyist for TransCanada.
      So, TransCanada has two of Hillary’s friends working for them. Misters Elliot and Goldwyn thus worked intimately with Hillary’s people to guide them on selecting a petroleum industry contractor (not an environmental firm, much less any governmental agency) to prepare the required environmental impact statement for this proposed pipeline.

      Secretary Clinton’s State Department thus allowed the environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline to be performed by a petroleum industry contractor that was chosen by the company that was proposing to build and own the pipeline,TransCanada. That contractor had no climatologist, and their resulting report failed even at its basic job of estimating the number of degrees by which the Earth’s climate would be additionally heated if this pipeline is built and operated. Their report ignored that question, and instead evaluated the impact that climate change would have on the pipeline, which was estimated to be none.

      Really? read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/elizabeth-warren-comes-do_b_4483753.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

      • gozounlimited

        Maybe Hillary should be focused on her sick husband…..


        I find it appropriate that Bill Clinton would be on considering he signed off on NAFTA and the sucking sound that were US jobs going across the borders and oceans. Maybe harsh justice has come. I assume Clinton knows where he contracted it though as we all know he DID NOT HAVE SEX WITH THAT WOMAN, but he did with all the others.

        read more: http://cotocrew.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/bill-clinton-has-aids/

        • Birther 2.0

          Thanks OBAMA!

      • gozounlimited

        In a Times article last week headlined “Unease at Clinton Foundation Over Finances and Ambitions,” Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick offered a compelling chronicle about an internal review of the rechristened Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation that illuminated the fungible finances and tensions between Clinton loyalists and the foundation architects Magaziner and Doug Band, former bag carrier for President Clinton

        “On one occasion, Mr. Magaziner dispatched a team of employees to fly around the world for months gathering ideas for a climate change proposal that never got off the ground,” Confessore and Chozick said.

        We are supposed to believe that every dollar given to a Clinton is a dollar that improves the world. But is it? Clintonworld is a galaxy where personal enrichment and political advancement blend seamlessly, and where a cast of jarringly familiar characters pad their pockets every which way to Sunday…… read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/opinion/sunday/dowd-money-money-money-money-money.html?_r=0

  • colinjames71

    I’m assuming someone has tried to FOIA the results of the Seattle and SF fly-over data, and probably other docs too? I imagine there’s really only one reason to cover it up, that’s to cover Tepco/Japan/GE asses, because the readings would have caused quite a stir, maybe more than a stir, and more like a total freakout. Typical. Just like Deepwater, cover it up, downplay, obfuscate, lie, change the regulations to allow for increased levels of pollutants involved, and most importantly PR, PR, PR! And throw everyone and anyone from the citizenry you need to under the bus. In this case, once again, the worst offense is being committed against our own troops. Hopefully the court case can move forward, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it tossed on procedural or jurisdictional grounds at least one more time, and you know the Gov/Navy/Tepco/Japan will do everything they can to make it go away, tie it up, whatever, to avoid disclosure (radiation-level data, what they knew and when they knew it, why no iodine pills for the whole crew) and financial responsibility, obviously. Oh but wait they’ve always got Obamacare…

    And WTF is the cost of an iodine tablet? You’re heading into the scene of potentially the world’s worst nuclear accident, you’re the world’s most sophisticated, technologically advanced, and heavily-funded military… how do you NOT take every reasonable precaution? Or even THE MOST basic? Outrageous, shameful, head-scratchingly stupid, and criminally negligent. Sickening.

    • colinjames71

      I was taking about the USS Reagan incident, thought that story was on this link

  • Nick Nadhob

    I tried to get my kids out of san diego 2 years ago because of fukushima. every body , including my kids ,thought I was nuts. I am now living in Uruguay SA

    • L


  • Plowboy

    Those radioactive particles emit some heat, and some of the radioactive isotopes have a half life of thousands (some more) of years. In the ocean they have a net effect of raising the ocean temperature.
    And then there’s the icy regions – the plumes in the air will speed up the melting of the ice.
    I think the nuclear industry is the biggest contributor to warming the environment, and for what? Something free for the nuclear businesses, that’s what. Just think, they are assaulting everyone with radioactive particles. What gives the government the right to set an “acceptable limit” of radiation via radioactive particles in the environment? What gives them the right to raise the limit in times like these?

    • Plowboy

      Link above doesn’t work. Try youtube BeautifulGirlByDana and his video Philllipine Carnage Direct Result of Fukushima Radiation.

  • fleshbug02

    One must realize, that childishly blaming a ‘puppet’, for all this murder, is completely unacceptable. The World Central Vatican Filth, is responsible for all the disgusting action. It could be the ‘slow death’ start up, already in
    the process.So stop crying, and let us all together, destroy the destroyer of our entire world; just as a send off to oblivion for them. That will be a wonderous Thank You to them. They do know who they are.

  • Jamal Shrair

    Hi Friends. Our planet is facing a nightmare
    scenario because of those nuclear reactors and I am not only taking
    about the 50 nuclear reactors in Japan but also in other countries. I
    strongly believe that earthquakes will increase in the coming
    months and surely in the coming two-three years. Why? because I believe
    Earth will enter the final phase of changing its magnetic field. Jamal
    Shrair author of Helical Universe.

  • Nick Nadhob

    move to Uruguay or die . I do not lie

  • Rehmat

    Japan should sue Israel for the terrorism.

    Canadian daily The Globe And Mail reported on July 5, 2012 that a recent Japanese parliamentary panel has claimed that the nuclear accident at Fukushima was “man-made disaster” and not only due to tsunami.

    Former NSA analyst and freelance journalist, Jim Stone, argues that there was no mag 9.0 earthquake. The Tsunami was caused by nuclear bombs in the Sea and the Fukushima explosion and meltdown was by mini-nukes hidden in cameras installed by the Israeli security firm. The motive: to punish Japan for offering to enrich Iranian uranium and straying from Illuminati (mostly Jewish) dictat.


  • John Connor

    I wouldn’t be surprised if I see Godzilla coming out from the waters of Fukushima…

  • Hahaha

    I couldn’t care less about the japanese… and the american people (who really likes to dominate the world, but are perceiving just now, what their shit “free market and democracy” are doing with them). Lets watch the American Empire dying like the oceans and… prepare for fight China.

  • Gregsnz

    Truthers and other tin foil hat wearers,

    This article needs to be updated. Radiation diffuses as it spreads. That lethal dose of radiation that hit the U.S. west coast never did. It’s never gotten above background levels. People monitor radiation all over the world. I live in Japan and I hate all of this fearmongering garbage fake news. Arnie Gunderson, by the way, was speculating.

    Speculate: To engage in a course of reasoning often based on inconclusive evidence.

  • Bella_Fantasia

    Removing the fuel rods has continued, as far as we know, for nearly a year. Maybe the operation has been halted. I doubt we’d be told. The intense radiation made the steel cranes brittle with a tendency to break. Has anyone heard anything recently?