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Sat Nov 21, 2020, 01:27 AM

Fukushima Related Radiation Risks to Olympians at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

(Note: This post, and many of my earlier posts in this space, contains some graphics which may not be accessible to Chrome users because of a recent upgrade to that browser, but should work in Firefox and Microsoft Edge. When my son has time, he will adjust the file system for a website he's building for me to make these graphics usable in Chrome, but he seldom has that much time on his hands. Interested parties, should they exist, can still read my posts including the graphics, but regrettably must use a browser other than Chrome. Apologies - NNadir)

The paper I'll discuss in this post is this one: Radioactive Games? Radiation Hazard Assessment of the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games (Rebecca Querfeld, Mayumi Hori, Anica Weller, Detlev Degering, Katsumi Shozugawa,*and Georg Steinhauser,* Environ. Sci. Technol. 2020, 54, 18, 1141411423). I've been meaning to get around posting some commentary on this paper for several months, but never did so until now.

The authors of this paper are from German and Japanese Institutions.

Germany has, um, "interesting" energy policies, widely applauded in some circles, none of which I am personally a member. Perish the thought. Here's the German Energy Policy: Nuclear Energy is "dangerous." Nuclear Energy is more dangerous than forms of energy which kill 7 million people per year in the form of air pollution. It is more dangerous than loading the atmosphere with so much of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide that the coasts of major continents burn huge stretches of their ecosystems in vast uncontrollable fires. It is more dangerous, than tens of thousands people dying annually because the ambient temperatures exceed 42C, the approximate temperature at which sweating stops and body temperature can skyrocket, sometimes even rising above 44C so that "the brain falters; confusion, agitation, slurred speech, even coma can result." (Pennisi, Living with heat (Science, Vol. 370, Issue 6518, pp. 778-781 (2020)). Nuclear power, according to German Energy policy is more dangerous than most of the world's coral reefs dying from heat stress and acidification, more dangerous than the outgassing of methane and carbon dioxide ice clathrates in melting permafrost, more dangerous than seawater intruding into the ground water of coastal cities, more dangerous than more frequent and more intense hurricanes.

Go figure.

As is well known in many circles, the worst energy disaster of all time includes none of the stuff just listed above as being less dangerous than nuclear energy above. It was, if you believe in the importance of attention paid, Fukushima. Fukushima was an event where 20,000 people died from living in a coastal city inundated by seawater after a 9.0 Richter scale earthquake induced a tsunami, from things like drowning, buildings collapsing and related phenomenon, such as being smashed against walls by massive water flows. Much worse than all these deaths however, according to popular opinion - since those 20,000 deaths don't actually matter in the minds of our media - was that some people were exposed to (gasp) radiation, when three nuclear reactors melted down after their diesel emergency cooling pumps were inundated by, um, seawater.

People drowning in seawater, tens of thousands of them, are not as interesting as people being exposed to radiation.

Now, apparently, our media is very concerned that there may be a radiation risk to athletes traveling to Japan for the 2020 Olympics which will not take place in 2020, apparently, but will take place in 2021, maybe.

The authors of this paper decided to do something called "measurements" to evaluate risk to athletes who might travel to Japan for the Olympics that have been delayed because of the risk of a disease, Covid-19.

From the text of the paper:

The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had unprecedented impacts on major 2020 sports events, including the Olympic Games, which will be hosted in and around Tokyo, Japan. In a joint decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Prime Minister of Japan, it was decided on March 23, 2020, that the 2020 Summer Olympics will be postponed to not later than summer 2021, presumably from July 23 to August 8, 2021.(1) The Summer Olympics (for consistency with its branded name, we continue calling them Tokyo 2020 hereafter; their official name is Games of the XXXII Olympiad) will hold a total of 339 sport competitions in 33 sports and 51 disciplines, 28 of which take place at venues that are located within a radius of 8 km around the Olympic Village in Tokyo. In addition to Tokyo prefecture, where most competitions take place, there will also be Olympic venues in the prefectures of Hokkaido, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka (Figure 1).(2) Despite the (temporary) impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Olympic Games, a second (and lasting) shadow has been on Tokyo 2020 for other reasons: For many, the 2013 decision of the IOC to award the 2020 Summer Olympics to Tokyo, Japan, was overshadowed by memories of the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP). Recent media reports insistently questioned the safety of the venue for athletes and spectators due to the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident.(3−6)...

References 3 to 6 are not to scientific papers but rather are from public "news" sources written by journalists, furthering my long held suspicion that one cannot get a degree in journalism if one has passed a college level science course.

The authors continue:

The devastating Tohoku earthquake (magnitude 9.0) of March 11, 2011 off the east coast of Japan and a subsequent tsunami triggered a major nuclear accident occurred at FDNPP, which was classified at the maximum level of 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.(7,8) Complete loss of core cooling resulted in core meltings of reactor units 13 and the onset of hydrogen, leading to significant releases of radionuclides into the environment through ventings and structural damage to the containment caused by hydrogen explosions.(9−14) The total estimated released activities of mostly volatile radionuclides, excluding noble gases, summed up to 520 PBq.(14) While partly substantial airborne activity levels of radiocesium, radiotellurium, and radioiodine were observed over the Japanese islands, traces of fission products were detected globally.(15) In the aftermath of the accident, the Japanese government ordered an extensive monitoring of air dose rates(16−18) as well as of contamination levels in drinking water and food.(19,20) The analyzed data are publically available on the Web site of the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW).(21) The food inspections were extended in 2012 and are still being carried out today.(22−26)
Despite overwhelming evidence indicating moderate (at worst) direct health effects of the nuclear releases from FDNPP,(27−29) nine years after the accident, many people still doubt the radiological safety of staying in Japan. The reasons for this largely unsubstantiated fear may be rooted in the fact that scientific evidence is often only presented in Japanese and is often addressed to professionals in the field. In some instances, the credibility of the data (or the organization presenting the data) is called into question, especially when the data are used to support, e.g., a particular view of nuclear energy. Since environmental radioactivity is a highly emotional issue, this topic is occasionally prone to become the subject of conspiracy theories, with the result that the accuracy of governmental data as a whole is called into question. In any case, no comprehensive and scientifically substantiated summary of the various radiological aspects of the radiation hazard are available for Tokyo 2020 yet.

The added bold is mine.

Conspiracy theories? The authors are claiming that people embrace conspiracy theories?

Who knew?

The public is entirely rational which is why national governments agree with the notion that nuclear power is more dangerous than 7 million deaths per year from air pollution, and the destruction of continental coastal forests and communities by fire.

The paper contains all kinds of silly scientific stuff about how to detect radiation, for example:

Radiocesium Analysis

For the low-level analysis of 137Cs, gamma spectrometry using high-purity germanium (HPGe) detectors at the underground laboratory Felsenkeller (Dresden, Germany)(30) was applied. In this location, 45 m of rock overburden results in a suppression of the muonic component of cosmic radiation by a factor of about 30.(31) Relative efficiencies of the used detectors ranged from 20 to 90%, the integral blank count rates for the energy range 402700 keV varied between 2.4 and 4.4 min1. The lowest background values were achieved with the spectrometer described in Khler et al.(32) The water samples (500 and 1500 mL) were measured in Marinelli beaker geometry.

In other words, to distinguish the cesium radioactivity from the samples collected in Japan from the background radiation associated with our very dangerous galaxy, the authors needed to take the samples to Germany and measure the radioactivity under layers or rock to exclude cosmic radiation.

I got 'dem old kozmik blues again Mama!

Anyway, the following figures describe what the authors found out about "dangerous" radioactivity at the upcoming (maybe) Tokyo Olympics in comparison to the radiation risk to athletes at previous Olympic events.

The caption:

Figure 1. Locations of the Olympic venues for Tokyo 2020. Map based on Google Maps.

The caption:

Figure 2. Producing prefectures of potable water samples and venues of additional sampling spots from surface and tap water samples.

The caption:

Figure 3. Current air dose rates in μSvh1 of Tokyo 2020 (avg.) and previous Olympic Sites.

The caption:

Figure 4. (a) Cycling route in the prefectures Kanagawa, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka of Tokyo 20202 with contamination map from the September 18, 2011 data taken from MEXT(45) (b) measured air dose rate in September 20, 2018 on the cycling route; (c) marathon course in the city of Tokyo(2) with contamination map from the September 18, 2011 taken from MEXT; (45) and (d) measured air dose rate in September 19, 2018 on the marathon route.

Watch out for 'dem ole Kozmik Blues, while flying!

The caption:

Figure 5. Flight dose in μSv (including neutron dose) from cosmic rays for flights of previous Olympic sites to Tokyo, Japan.(49−52)

Excerpts from the authors conclusions:

Major sporting events such as the Olympic Games are particularly vulnerable to public health threats. For the quantification of the impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident on the upcoming summer Olympics, we conducted a variety of experimental and literature studies for a comprehensive assessment of the external and internal exposure to ionizing radiation for athletes and visitors. All results were compared to radiation exposure from naturally occurring radionuclides and from cosmic rays exposure during flights. Significantly elevated air dose rates were not measured at any of the Tokyo Olympic sites. The results of this study exemplify that, despite the Fukushima nuclear accident, Tokyo 2020 will in fact exhibit a lower radiological risk than the previous major sporting events we chose for comparison. Also for the torch relay, no major deviations from the conclusions of this study are anticipated. The average air dose rates of 0.071 μSvh−1 at the Tokyo 2020 sites were below the average air dose rates of previous Olympic sites (Beijing, Munich, Helsinki, London, Seoul, and Rio de Janeiro). Furthermore, we analyzed drinking and surface water samples, at which only two out of 17 water samples exhibited the low detection limits in an underground laboratory with a drinking water sample from Chiba prefecture (0.0031 0.0007 Bqkg−1137Cs) and surface seawater sample from the Kanagawa prefecture (0.021 0.006 Bqkg−1137Cs). Both 137Cs activity concentrations are minute and far below the regulatory limit for potable water (10 BqL−1 radiocesium). They do not pose any radiological risk even at a high intake rate of around 5 Ld−1 for athletes. Likewise, on the basis of previously published food safety studies, we extrapolate a small radiological hazard due to the consumption of food. Thanks to the major efforts in monitoring of food, the food safety in Japan is high...

Of course, none of this science can compare with our appetite for conspiracy theories, with our media now in a paroxysm of joy at making sure we are aware of every single one of them. They're, um, considered "news."

I wish you a healthy, safe and secure weekend and holiday season.

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Reply Fukushima Related Radiation Risks to Olympians at the 2021 Tokyo Games. (Original post)
NNadir Nov 2020 OP
RussellCattle Nov 2020 #1

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Nov 21, 2020, 02:30 AM

1. Thank you for continuing to educate us about the irrational fears surrounding nuclear power and...

....why it needs to be used to save the planet. This convert also liked the Janis Joplin reference.

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